Good thing bombings are being anticipated

A bomb attack at a happy event like the Boston Marathon – who would have anticipated it? Yet such things have been anticipated, even way up here in the Adirondacks.

On Friday, the Enterprise cover was dominated by a photo of a bloody man lying on his back, howling in pain in a Paul Smith’s College dormitory common room. Two other students also lay injured around him. Here’s how the accompanying story began:

“Bloody students cried and wailed for their friends after a disgruntled college applicant’s bomb leveled part of Clinton Residence Hall at Paul Smith’s College Thursday morning.”

And then, the clincher: “No need to panic, though. It was just a drill.”

In this case, the bomb, the blood, the screams and the tears were fake, part of a disaster exercise the college hosted Thursday to test the emergency preparedness of the its own staff and that of nearby emergency responders.

Thank goodness they did it. As we are now reminded, sometimes the bomb, the blood, the screams and the tears are real.

It’s rare, but it happens.

Could it happen even here? One of the things we felt after Monday’s Boston bombing was gratitude to live here, in a small town surrounded by mountains, lakes and forests, the kind of place that doesn’t offer potential terrorists as many people to kill or symbolic targets as a city does.

But yes, it could totally happen here. We know the North Country is fully capable of producing homegrown murderers, such as Charles Garrow, Jeff Glanda and Ernest Gay. And roaming serial killer Israel Keyes chose our region as one of his bases of operations. Even if he didn’t kill any New Yorkers, he did carry out the carefully planned murder of a pair of Vermonters and hid the murder weapon up here, near Parishville.

That disgruntled student from the Paul Smith’s drill is believable. And it seems, scarily, that the kind of small bombs used in the Boston Marathon attacks are not all that hard to make – even remote-controlled ones. Impoverished insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan have used them against U.S. soldiers, and a local maniac could probably figure it out, too.

It’s a good thing someone imagined that such a bombing could occur, even at remote, sheltered Paul Smith’s. It’s good that students, campus security, state police, fire departments and rescue squads planned how they would handle such an incident and practiced executing that plan, working together in an orderly way. We can’t anticipate every disaster, and even if we do, that doesn’t mean we will respond especially well to it. But practice like this sure helps.

We at the Enterprise are grateful to all our region’s emergency responders. While it’s fairly easy to feel secure anyway up here in the Adirondacks, we feel more so seeing and knowing that these folks are ready and willing to help when needed.