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City prepares for attack

Half a world away from the battles raging in the Middle East, Port Orchard is bracing for an emergency that hopefully will never come.

The city has been on standby for Phase II emergency operations since Tuesday, when the homeland security advisory system went from yellow alert to orange alert. Since then, city officials have been inventorying emergency equipment, checking systems and installing updated software where necessary.

Port Orchard police Sgt. Dennis McCarthy, the city’s emergency operations chief, has been on 24-hour standby mode as well, which means he has to be able to reach City Hall in 20 minutes or less at all times. As a result, he had to cancel his bagpipe lessons Thursday morning, which were judged to be too far away.

“It would take me too long to get back from Tacoma,” McCarthy said.

The city only rarely goes to full Phase II operations — the last time was when the World Trade towers collapsed in 2001. The commitment of personnel and resources is significant — the third floor of city hall would become an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and McCarthy and at least one other staff person would have to be on-duty there at all times.

Phase III denotes a full-blown catastrophe and would require all city department heads to be in the EOC at all times, where each would have a specific area of command.

Police Chief Al Townsend, as incident commander, would be responsible for prioritizing all incident reports that came in.

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