Wednesday, October 31, 2001

'Common sense' on anthrax urged




By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BURLINGTON — Northern Kentucky officials are urging residents to use common sense before dialing 911 over any anthrax scares after a number of reports of suspicious powders and packages following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

        It's not that people shouldn't be careful, it's just that the woman who fearfully returned a loaf of bread that had a dusting of flour might have been too vigilant, officials said.

        And if an emergency such as a fire, a car accident or a chemical spill were reported at the same time, emergency personnel would be out on a call, they said.

        “We need to stress that we are not asking that people with suspicious packages not call,” said Lt. Jack Banks, spokesman for the Boone County Sheriff's department. “On the contrary, we are ready to respond to any call where anyone thinks they may have something out of the ordinary. We are just asking people to use a little common sense.”

        Boone County Emergency Management director Dan Maher said resources are being strained by the number of emergency calls for suspicious powders and packages.

        The Boone County Sheriff's department has responded to as many as a dozen anthrax scares a day since Sept. 11, Lt. Banks said.

        Mr. Maher is chairman of the Northern Kentucky Anti-Terrorism Committee, which has been meeting for about a year.

        According to the committee — made up of officials from Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties — there have been no confirmed anthrax exposures or other terrorist-related incidents in Kentucky.

        The group has issued a checklist that people should follow before reporting a suspicious package or powder. That list can be found at www.nkyhealth.org and includes ruling out such explainable powders as laundry soap, creamer, sweetener and chalk.

        It also offers information on isolating suspicious packages safely.

       



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