BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Rising tension between the United States and North Korea has some Americans on edge. Bay County leaders said they are prepared for hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and floods. But what about nuclear radiation?
"For the average citizen out there, it's a frightening thing," said Mark Bowen, Chief of Emergency Services for Bay County. "So I think they can take comfort in the fact that a lot of their federal tax dollars have been spent since September 11 to educate first responders, police officers, firefighters, and paramedics. So if there's a radiological emergency we can do the best we can."
Part of the federal funding goes to providing skilled local hazmat teams. Bowen said these teams train for the most likely, not most deadly. The odds of North Korea attacking Panama City are extremely slim. But what if, and that is a big what if, an attack occurred close by?
"There's a lot of hazmat technicians at the local level that if something happened elsewhere and they were worried about fallout or something coming our direction because of the wind, we would be able to give to give good and accurate information about how to protect ourselves," Bowen said."
Bowen said another big difference between now and the Cold War era is advanced communications systems between the government and the people. Bay County residents can sign up for an emergency notification system called Alert Bay.
Participants will receive a voice or text message about any potential safety hazard or concern.