Federal homeland security aid has improved Pennsylvania’s ability to respond to disasters, but officials say the state could become an attractive target for terrorists if funding keeps dropping, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Adrian R. King Jr., director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, gave details of how the state has spent more than $214 million from the federal Office of Domestic Preparedness since 1999. First responders – including police, firefighters and emergency personnel – have received protective gear and detection and decontamination equipment, as well as technology to communicate on otherwise-incompatible radio systems. Among big-ticket items were a bomb robot ($205,443) and decontamination trailers for hazardous materials ($124,950 each).
Pennsylvania faces at least a 20 percent reduction in its federal allocation this year, as the Office of Homeland Security channels funding to the areas determined to be at greatest risk. Giving more money to New York and Washington could leave potential targets in Pennsylvania or other less-protected areas more vulnerable, officials said. “We’re deeply concerned,” said Robert A. Full, chief of emergency services for Allegheny County. “Now is not the time to start cutting back.” Some homeland security equipment was used in a January train derailment and in responding to Tropical Storm Ivan in September. Agents with chemical, biological, radiological and explosive detection equipment were on hand for the events ranging from presidential visits to the Pocono 500.