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Lafayette’s Office of Public Safety has taken several steps to increase the College’s preparedness to respond to emergencies and ensure the safety of the campus community in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and outbreak of anthrax.

Public safety, which includes 11 full-time police officers and 12 full-time and part-time security officers, has acquired new expertise in responding to the threat of anthrax and other infectious diseases through two training sessions.

Hugh Harris, director of public safety, and Jim Meyer, assistant director, attended a program entitled “The First Responder and Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Warfare,” conducted Oct. 22 in Bethlehem by faculty of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md. This was attended by several hundred law enforcement and public safety personnel from Northampton and Lehigh counties. Security procedures included requiring background checks for all those attending.

Harris and Assistant Director Jeff Troxell attended another session, “Responding to the Anthrax Threat,” conducted by the Easton Hospital Division of Infectious Diseases.

Training of all public safety personnel is ongoing.

The office’s emergency response plan, a document of more than 100 pages that is revised as appropriate on an ongoing basis, has been updated to include procedures for responding to potential anthrax threats and a protocol for identifying and dealing with suspicious letters or packages.

The office has equipped all patrol vehicles with emergency response kits to enable police or security officers responding to a call about potential anthrax to isolate a suspicious letter or parcel and remain safe while doing so.

In formulating procedures for responding to potential new threats, public safety has worked in concert with federal, state, county, and local law enforcement and public safety authorities, and the same will go for implementing the procedures. It has forged an arrangement with federal authorities through which the College will be notified immediately of any threat, biological or other, that has the potential to affect the safety of the campus community.

The Lafayette post office has been on alert for suspicious mail since the beginning of the anthrax threat nationally. The post office sent an email message Oct. 17 to all members of the campus community instructing students, faculty, and staff to contact public safety immediately in case of receiving suspicious mail and containing information from the U.S. Postal Service about what constitutes a suspicious letter or parcel.

On a related topic, Laurie Caslake, assistant professor of biology, and Dr. Jeffrey Goldstein, director of health services, will discuss the risks of anthrax infection in a presentation called “Calming Your Fears: The Truth about Anthrax” at noon Friday, Nov. 9, in Interfaith Chapel, Hogg Hall. This will be part of the continuing series of Campus Conversations about issues in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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