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Lebanon to host Homeland Security Expo

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By JENNIFER HORTONThe Wilson Post

Members of the public are invited to attend the upcoming Urban Area Security Initiative Expo at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center, hosted by the City of Lebanon in conjunction with the Tennessee Office of Homeland Security on Wednesday, June 24.

The hours will be from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The event will highlight the UASI region’s efforts regarding public safety and will also allow the public to see new equipment and see demonstrations of emergency responses.

“We’ve been very involved in homeland security efforts and we were asked by the state if we wanted to host it,” said Lebanon Public Safety Coordinator Mike Justice who also serves as terrorism liaison with the state.

This is the first time Lebanon has hosted the event and the first time it has been open to the public, he noted. It was held in Nashville previously.

Organizers decided to invite the public so citizens can see what authorities are doing and can do to protect everyone. The funds that pay the personnel and purchase the equipment come through grants and tax dollars, Justice said, so the decision was made to let citizens see how their tax dollars are used.

The Nashville UASI/Homeland Security District 5 includes Wilson, Cannon, Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner, Trousdale and Williamson Counties. Organizers noted that the district has strengthened its abilities to detect, prevent, deter and respond to terrorist or natural disasters with some of the newest equipment and technologies available, all purchased using federal homeland security funds.

Counties in the state have joined with the major cities to form the homeland security districts which allow them to work together and avoid duplication of services, Justice said.

Several demonstrations are planned during the Expo. Justice said the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Special Operations team will offer an aerial rescue demonstration at noon. Public safety equipment, such as mobile command posts, decontamination units, disaster medical trailers, bomb detection units and communications trailers, will be on display during the event, also.

In addition to law enforcement from the counties in District 5 participating, others set to attend include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Tennessee Meth Task Force, Tennessee National Guard 45th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team and the Tennessee Office of Homeland Security.

Justice said organizers hope to have a team on hand from Fort Campbell. There will be vendors on site with their displays, too.

“The USAI Expo gives Middle Tennesseans a chance to see firsthand how federal funds have been used on the local level to strengthen the capabilities of our first responders to protect our communities and families,” said State OHS Director Dave Mitchell. “From state-of-the-art equipment to increased training for specialized response teams, the abilities of the emergency service agencies within the Nashville USAI/Homeland Security District 5 have improved significantly.” 

“This will show what we’re doing and what we’re capable of doing,” said Lebanon Commissioner of Public Safety Billy Weeks.

“This will also give some of our elected officials that are not fully aware of what we’re doing and what we’re capable of. It will give all of them a reason to be there,” he added.

Justice noted the event was being held after the mayor and city council agreed, and that it was being held at no cost to the city. The use of the Ward Ag Center, he said, was donated for the Expo.

Editor Jennifer Horton may be contacted at news@wilsonpost.com.

 

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