Handling of local 'crisis' prompts many questions
Was the response by law enforcement and other government agencies in the Mahoning Valley to the situation at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport on the day terrorists attacked New York City and Washington a three-ring circus, as some suggest? Or did the individuals who are trained to act in emergency situations do their jobs well, as others contend.
On Thursday, a review will be conducted by various Trumbull County departments and agencies to determine whether the county's emergency operations plan was followed on Sept. 11, when the attack on America took place.
The death toll has surpassed 6,000.
The show of force at the Youngstown-Warren airport in Vienna Township after six commercial jets were forced to land there following a national no-fly order from the FAA has been characterized as "mass confusion" by Don Waldron, head of the Trumbull County hazardous-materials response team.
Critical assessment: Vienna Township Fire Chief Richard Brannon, who is supposed to be in charge of disasters at the airport but was not the first person called, was even more critical in his assessment: "Everything that could have gone wrong ... there were too many chiefs and not enough Indians."
Why weren't Vienna's police and fire department alerted first, as the airport's emergency operating procedure requires?
While it is true that the airport receives public dollars from both Trumbull and Mahoning counties, it is inconceivable that all three Mahoning County commissioners, Vicki Allen Sherlock, Edward Reese and David Ludt, and the county prosecutor, Paul Gains, would have had any role to play in any type of an emergency. Yet, they, along with Walter Duzzny, director of the county's Emergency Management Agency, showed up.
Although we have consistently preached regional cooperation and have criticized elected officials who continue to display parochial attitudes, we do recognize the need for a formal response plan in the event of a national emergency.
Whether officers from at least 10 police departments and several disaster relief trucks should have been on the scene is one of the issues that we hope will be addressed Thursday.
Forum: As of this writing, it was not clear whether the crisis postmortem would be held in public. If that isn't the intent, we would urge Trumbull County officials to permit the press and area residents to attend. After all, the way the region responds to a national crisis is everyone's business. The federal government has warned that future acts of terrorism are a very real possibility.
Local officials would do well to study how New York City is dealing with its devastation.