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Bill Kron: In case of emergency, St. Louis County stands ready to serve

On Tuesday, Sept. 11, we conducted our regularly scheduled St. Louis County Board meeting, though it was a far cry from being a "regular" meeting. Only moments before the gavel fell, we began to see and hear about the horrible events unfolding in...

On Tuesday, Sept. 11, we conducted our regularly scheduled St. Louis County Board meeting, though it was a far cry from being a "regular" meeting. Only moments before the gavel fell, we began to see and hear about the horrible events unfolding in New York City, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.
Since then, there has been continuous commentary, coverage and conjecture. Americans are being urged to do whatever they can ... fly their flags, give blood, donate money and pray. St. Louis County's citizens have joined with their fellow Americans in experiencing shock, fear and resolve. This national tragedy has shaken us, but we have emerged with a stronger sense of unity and patriotism.
Our government, from the White House to the County Courthouse, has tremendous responsibilities during this national emergency. St. Louis County Commissioners and staff stand united and ready to serve as needed as the future unfolds.
St. Louis County has always played an important role in disaster planning and emergency response. Our Sheriff's Office, 911 Department, Rescue Squad and many others provide the first line of defense for many kinds of emergencies. This week has been no different.
On Tuesday, Sept. 11, our Sheriff's Office worked with Duluth and Hibbing Police Departments to provide security at the Duluth and Hibbing Airports. Both airports were on standby to accept diverted international flights in the wake of the national emergency. Sheriff's Deputies also coordinated security at both St. Louis County 911 call centers, and upgraded security at the county courthouses.
Other ways that the Sheriff's Office continues to respond include providing Federal Counter Terrorism training for staff, and upgrading personal protection equipment for deputies and rescue squad personnel. The St. Louis County Board has bonded for a new Rescue Squad/911 facility, now being constructed, which will provide enhanced emergency services for our area. The St. Louis County Board has also approved the CriMNet program, which greatly facilitates sharing of information between disparate law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies, and will be a wonderful new asset for us.
St. Louis County has developed a detailed Emergency Response Plan involving the Sheriff's Office, 911, the Health Department, Public Information Office, Safety and Emergency Management Divisions and many other departments. This coordinated effort, which has been in a state of readiness to respond to wildfire emergencies, is also available for other local disasters.
As directed by the county board, the St. Louis County Health Department has also been actively addressing recent events. Public health nurses have circulated a poster to hospitals and clinics alerting medical professionals to the signs and symptoms of diseases consistent with a terrorist attack. The Health Department has also been actively addressing recent events. Public health nurses have circulated a poster to hospitals and clinics alerting medical professionals to the signs and symptoms of diseases consistent with a terrorist attack. The Health Department is partnering with the State Health Department, law enforcement agencies, and local hospitals to develop a Bio Terrorism Emergency Response to protect citizens.
Other, more symbolic measures that St. Louis County is observing during this national emergency: Flags at all courthouses have been at half staff; we will encourage a moment of silent prayer at the beginning of each public meeting; County vehicles will proudly carry United States flags; and the St. Louis County Board has passed a resolution denouncing acts of terror. In these small ways, we hope to honor and remember the thousands of innocent people who perished due to senseless terrorism.
Our president has declared a war on terrorism that will test us all. Winston Churchill, prime minister of Britain during World War II had this to say in similar circumstances: "Do not let us speak of darker days; let us speak of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days -- the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race."
Let each of us play our part.

Bill Kron of Duluth is chair of the St. Louis County Board of Commissioners.

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