It's rush hour in Philadelphia. As hundreds of workers pour into Suburban Station, a noxious gas fills the train platforms. People start to choke and gag. There is no respite, no escape, as emergency personnel arrive on the chaotic scene.
Luckily, this scenario isn't real - but domestic-security teams throughout Philadelphia and Pennsylvania know that it could be.
That's why a group of them will travel to Israel on Feb. 11, to learn firsthand about anti-terror security from professionals who deal with it every day. The trip is being hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and underwritten by U.S. Security Care, Inc., a security consulting firm based in Blue Bell.
"We are honored to help in the fight against terrorism," said U.S. Security Care President Richard Wolfson. "It's our privilege to sponsor this opportunity so that participants can come back with good insight on how to combat it."
Organized by Federation's Government Affairs Department and Center for Israel and Overseas, the trip will focus on Israel's anti-terror security procedures and response tactics by providing valuable information and hands-on experience to enhance local homeland security and medical-facility preparedness.
"Because we have the impetus to repair the world, we are concerned for the safety of people, both in our community and in the larger community," stated Robin Schatz, Federation Government Affairs director. "These are all operational people with incredible security backgrounds who are working hard to make the state and city a safer place. This opportunity will strengthen their abilities by hooking them up with people who wrote the book on combating terrorism."
During the weeklong program, the security professionals will meet with an Israeli expert on radical Islam and terrorism, learn about Israel's monitoring techniques, accompany the Civil Guard Police Force on patrol and visit with security officials in places such as the West Bank, the Golan Heights and Jerusalem.
"Israel has been doing homeland security longer and better than probably anyone in the world," said Capt. John Lutz, a liaison officer from the Domestic Security Office of the Pennsylvania State Police Department, which is also sending Capt. George Bivens, director of the Intelligence Division, and Cpl. John Rolfe, supervisor of the Hazardous Device and Explosives Section. "None of us has ever been to Israel before, so we appreciate the opportunity to bring knowledge back to make the region safer."
The group will tour the Israel Center for Medical Simulation, an internationally renowned "virtual hospital," and learn through simulation how to treat bombing victims. They will also meet with Israeli trauma expert Dr. Avi Rifkind, who recently came to Philadelphia for an international conference on terrorism.
Other trip participants include Dr. Edward Jasper, director of the Center for Bio-Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital; Brig. Gen. James Joseph, director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency; the Philadelphia Police Department's Capt. Walt Smith, commanding officer for the Homeland Security Unit; Officer Thomas Lynch, active bomb technician for the Bomb Disposal Unit; and David Lindstedt, director of protective services for U.S. Security Care.
"Unfortunately, most Americans take a lot of things for granted," claimed Lindstedt. "Perhaps through this trip we can see what we can do to change attitudes."