Hundreds Meet at Anti-Terrorism Conference in Arkansas

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark.-- Arkansas' four bomb squads and well equipped and trained to deal with terrorism tactics using explosives, a State Police investigator says.

John Miller, a member of that agency's bomb squad, was at a meeting Thursday intended to help health and safety workers coordinate their response to a terrorist attack. He said the bombings in London underscored the need for such groups as his.

"It's always scary when you hear about something like (the bombings)," Miller said. "But the good thing is it makes you more aware."

Miller said the state now has four bomb squads and was better equipped to handle an attack.

"After 9-11 I think efforts to get organized were put into action," he said.

Miller said Arkansas has many possible terrorism targets, and all four squads would respond in the event of an attack.

Those at the meeting said the deadly bombings in London on the same day sadly underscored the importance of their work.

"It really is a coincidence," said Steven Strobe, an organizer of the second annual Arkansas Terrorism Conference. But "I'm not excited that the message is being brought home like this."

Nearly 500 health-care professionals, emergency responders, hospital bioterrorism coordinators and law enforcement officials met to learn from one another.

In Arkansas, the sites considered the likeliest terrorism targets include the Pine Bluff Arsenal, the Little Rock Air Force Base, the Little Rock National Airport, the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, the National Center for Toxicological Research, and Entergy's nuclear power plant near Russellville.

Strobe said the meeting also helps prepare workers for other disasters.

"We can use this knowledge for tornadoes, fires, industrial accidents, all hazardous events, not just for terrorist events," he said.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the state Department of Emergency Management, the Arkansas Hospital Association and the FBI sponsored the meeting.