If terrorists attack Greater Cincinnati, rescuers can drive to the disaster area in six armored personnel carriers, nine all-terrain vehicles, 25 Ford trucks and five new command vehicles loaded with high-tech computer and communications gear. They can activate radiation detectors, put on night-vision goggles and bundle themselves in more than 10,000 protective suits and nearly 400 pieces of body armor. They can use a dozen decontamination trailers to scrub chemicals from more than 2,000 people an hour. They can treat injuries at one of the nation’s largest tent hospitals.
Its all possible because of an unprecedented, multibillion dollar buying spree that began five years ago, when the Sept. 11 attacks unleashed a flood of federal money for homeland security. A Cincinnati Enquirer review of budgets in seven counties reveals that Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky’s share of the money approaches $50 million. The windfall has transformed fire, police and sheriff’s departments throughout the region, supplying tons of equipment they never would have bought without it–a phenomenon that some equate to pork-barrel spending.