Watch out for that dirty bomb

Portlanders will be in for a treat on Tuesday, 10/16, for it is not everyday one witnesses the intentional detonation of a dirty bomb and subsequent emergency response of the city's authorities. This Tuesday, though, you can soak under a cloud of radiation and watch the police, firemen, paramedics, and city leaders scramble to show how well Portland can respond to a terrorist attack....sort of.

It's all pretend, of course.

The dirty bomb won't really have radioactive components in it (darn). However, everyone from the mayor on down to 911 (they'll use 211 on this day, so as not to jam the real emergency response line) operators will have to act like it's a dirty bomb, thus showing the world how prepared we are for terrorist attacks. The mission, dubbed "Topoff4," and overseen by the Department of Homeland Security, is a practice run of what the government wants us all to fear: freedom-hating terrorists, with an arsenal of biological weapons, bringing their savage ways to a city near you. It is the government's hopes that such a mission will allow us to further prepare for, and simultaneously prevent, a situation similar to the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11.

Sounds like a good plan. At least when we are again caught off guard by a terrorist attack, we can say we did all we could to prepare. However, after two years since the last Topoff mission, a public report has yet to be filed, in effect keeping all findings from the test results a secret (I thought it was to provide insight in the event of a real attack). In this mission, the fourth carried out since 9/11 across various US cities, a dirty bomb will be detonated on the Steel Bridge (really at the Portland Raceway), causing a domino effect of panic, scurry, emergency response, and, naturally, a restoration to peace and order (for we can't let the terrorists win...maybe we should also practice shopping afterward to boost the economy and let them know our way of life won't be impacted by their threats). The mission will include the participation of 15,000 people, from police and EMTs, to Mayor Tom Potter and fake news reporters (I'm sure real media outlets will be there, too, to report on the silliness). Governor Kulongoski will even be around to make sure Portland is not taken over.

If you want to show off your emergency preparedness skills at Topoff4, show up to Portland International Raceway at 9:00 am on Tuesday. Don't forget your sunglasses and hazmat suits, though.

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