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TA employees take terror alert classes

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If it’s any comfort to the subway-riding millions, New York City Transit Authority employees have been schooled on what to do in case of a terror emergency and specially equipped police now regularly patrol trains and stations.

“Our personnel have undergone classes in what to do in such contingenc­ies,” said Transit Authority spokeswoman Deidre Parker.

Parker said 2,500 transit employees, mostly those whose jobs keep them underground, had taken two-hour classes and thousands more TA workers had attended somewhat briefer instruction classes.

“We emphasized the points we call Identify, Notify and Evacuate,” Parker said in reference to how transit workers should perform in finding out what happened, summoning help and getting passengers out of subway cars and stations safely and rapidly.

Parker said training has been going on since early this month, but transit sources said some such instruction had been in the works since right after the attack on the World Trade Center.

Parker declined to go into details of what Transit Authority workers are taught about dealing with terror attacks. But transit sources said some workers, including those in token booths, had been issued gas masks.

Police of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority are riding subway trains as are National Guard members, state troopers and NYPD, some using dogs.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said 15,000 police have been issued $4 million worth of gas masks, other protective gear and radiation detectors as part of Operation Atlas, the city’s plan to prevent or respond to terrorism.

Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Operation Atlas automatically went into effect when U.S. armed forces attacked Iraq last week.

MTA police and state police and National Guard members also ride trains of the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North, the MTA said.

New signs have popped up on subways, the LIRR and Metro-North urging riders to report anything unusual such as an unattended package. “If you see something, say something,” the sign exhorts passengers.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has asked that Congress make sure a sufficient part of the $20 billion to be spent on Homeland Security goes to “firefighters, police, emergency workers and other first responders” in New York City.

Schumer said the bulk of the money should go to “prime targets” such as New York City, although some in Congress suggested it go to all states on a per capita basis.

“To give the same amount of money per capita as Wyoming would be totally unfair,” Schumer said.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

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