Montclair State to host terror medicine symposium

Montclair State to host terror medicine symposium

At the 2009 Symposium on Terror Medicine were, from left, Jill Lipoti, director of the division of Environmental Safety and Health”“N.J. Department of Environmental Protection, Andrea Yonah, then-director of the New Jersey-Israel Commission, and Leonard Cole. Miriam ALLENSON

If a bomb were to go off at the corner market and you were lucky enough to escape uninjured, what would you do until first-responders arrived? Would you try to pull survivors out? Try to keep people calm? Would you defer to the professionals?

Some 200 people will hear the answers to such questions next week’s Symposium on Terror Medicine & Terrorism at Montclair State University.

“All of us will be asking these questions of ourselves during the symposium,” said Dr. Leonard Cole, an adjunct professor of political science at Rutgers University and a member of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Center for BioDefense executive committee that organized the symposium. A Ridgewood resident, he is the author of “Terror: How Israel Has Coped and What America Can Learn.”

This is the second year the university has sponsored the event, which is designed to change the way the public looks at terrorism preparation. The lineup of speakers includes a retired Israeli general and other Israeli military personnel, Israeli psychologists and social workers, first-responders, and Charles McKenna, director of New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness.

“Anyone who feels an attachment to Israel would be particularly interested in hearing about the Israelis’ experience,” Cole said. “Israel, after all, has unfortunately but necessarily become probably the world’s premier expert in response to terrorism attacks.”

Last year’s conference, at UMDNJ in Newark, attracted more than 200 first-responders and laypeople. Speakers included Dr. Donald Jenkins, retired U.S. Air Force trauma surgeon at U.S. Central Command, which includes Iraq and Afghanistan; Dr. Clifton Lacy, former New Jersey commissioner of Health and Senior Services and current director of the University Center for Disaster Preparedness at UMDNJ; and Richard Cañas, then-director of the N.J. Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.

Israelis who attended included Tzipi Kahana of the Israel Police’s Division of Identification and Forensic Sciences and Estelle Rubinstein, deputy director of social services for Hadassah Hospital.

“Because the Israelis have had much more hands-on experience, they have developed protocols and approaches that can only be helpful to us in the United States,” Cole said. “Fortunately for us, the Israelis are eager to share their knowledge.”

When an Israeli 8-year-old, for example, sees an unattended backpack or package in the schoolyard, that student is much more likely to say something to a teacher or other authority figure than an American 8-year-old.

“We in the U.S. have not absorbed that kind of behavior as a normal matter of activity,” Cole said.

He pointed to the apparent terror attack rehearsal in New York’s Times Square, in which a car with a homemade explosive inside was left running. Public vigilance led to the car’s discovery before any damage could be wrought.

“For weeks afterward there was a lot of public assessment about how prepared we were or would have been had there been an actual explosion,” Cole said.

The New Jersey State Association of Jewish Federations, the umbrella group that represents the interests of New Jersey’s 12 federations in Trenton, is not an official sponsor of the symposium but has lent its muscle to promoting it.

“The security concerns of the community are always of the utmost in our minds,” said State Association executive director Jacob Toporek. “Anything we can do to support the effort and strengthen the effort is something the State Association and the federations are interested in.”

The symposium has also received letters of support from state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-37), U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and Rep. Steve Rothman (D-9).

“We are reminded daily of threats from terrorism and disaster, and this forum will go a long way toward making us better prepared to deal with them,” Rothman wrote the organizers earlier this year.

Gov. Chris Christie has also agreed to be the honorary chair of the symposium. Cole was noncommittal about whether it would become an annual event, but noted that the response has been positive so far and he expects attendance to eclipse last year’s.

What: Symposium on Terror Medicine & Security

Where: The Conference Center at Montclair State University in Montclair

When: Wednesday, Sept. 22

Sponsors: UMDNJ-Center for BioDefense The Program on Terror Medicine and Security

New Jersey EMS Task Force

Israel Consulate General in New York

UMDNJ-Center for Continuing & Outreach Education

New Jersey-Israel Commission

New Jersey Department of State

For more information on the conference, visit

N.J. Homeland Security to host confab
The N.J. Department of Homeland Security & Preparedness was scheduled to host a conference in New Brunswick today for local, state, and federal law enforcement and emergency management officials. Topics were to include terror financing, protecting critical infrastructure, and cyber security.

Richard Clarke, former White House Homeland Security adviser and international cyber security expert, will give the keynote address.

For more information, call (609) 588-7250.

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