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During an exercise in Fort Worth, TX, response personnel were called to the JPS Health Center-Diamond Hill and The Health Center for Women for a reported pungent odor. Dozens of people became ill from something reported to have an egg or sulfur-like smell. One hundred fifteen patients and staff members were evacuated, with some complaining of headaches, itchy eyes, dizziness and vomiting. Thirty people were taken to area hospitals.
Victims were decontaminated using a tent that had been set up at the hospital for the exercise. Personnel reported that the decon area already set up for the exercise was a big help during the real emergency. The source of the odor has not been identified. This type of facility is a potential terrorist target and any incident should be carefully evaluated to determine the cause.
Sources Of Federal Funds For Local Responders
The Department of Justice/Office of Justice Programs (DOJ/OJP), Department of Defense and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have funds to support equipment and training needs for local responders. Program information, grant guidelines and application forms can be accessed from the Office of Justice Assistance at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/fundopps.htm. FEMA programs and assistance information can be obtained at www.fema.gov. Defense Department programs and assistance information can be obtained at http://dp.sbccom.army.mil/.
New Technology & Resources
A job aid (ERT:JA) has been developed by the National Fire Academy for emergency responders to acts of terrorism. Development of the job aid was a joint effort of FEMA, the United States Fire Administration (USFA), and DOJ/OJP. The aid is designed as a "memory jogger" for first-responding personnel trained to respond to acts of terrorism. It has been divided into five sections, which are tabbed and color-coded to facilitate quick access to the information. The five sections are an Introduction (gray section), Operations Considerations (yellow), Incident-Specific Actions (white), Agency-Related Issues (blue) and a Glossary (tan).
The job aid is conveniently sized to fit into pockets on coveralls or uniform jackets, as well as storage compartments in apparatus cabs. Pages of the job aid are weatherproof, easily turned with gloved hands, can be marked upon with dry markers and are written in simple language using recognizable terms. Copies of the job aid are available from the Government Printing Office (GPO). Contact Alan Ptak or Jim Cameron at 202-512-1709 or e-mail at Aptak@gpo.gov. The cost is approximately $6.50 each, depending on the quantity ordered and shipping costs. (John Kimball, the terrorism program manager at the National Fire Academy, can answer questions on technical content. He can be contacted at 301-447-1533 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The NDPO has developed an On-Scene Commander's Guide for responding to biological/chemical threats. It was assembled with input from federal agencies along with state and local emergency responders. It is billed as a tool to help incident commanders assess options during the first two hours of an incident involving a potential biological or chemical agent. The guide has been produced to augment existing response policies and not to supersede local protocols. The 26-page guide can be obtained from the NDPO at 202-234-9026 or e-mail email@example.com.
A portable biological air-sampling instrument has been developed by a private company and is being tested by the Chicago Fire Department. The device automatically collects aerosol samples and the samples are added to a test strip for evaluation. It is expected to be available for shipment this fall. The company has developed test strips for anthrax screening. Other strips for other biological materials are under development.
USFA has a domestic preparedness training guide available for download at its website on federal weapons of mass destruction (WMD) training programs. The guide, Compendium of Weapons of Mass Destruction Courses, lists courses available from the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, FEMA (which includes the Emergency Management Institute), Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP), National Fire Academy courses, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), DOJ/OJP and Department of Transportation. Each course is listed along with course sponsor, course description, course objectives, nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) areas of competency, target audience, type of instruction, course location/facility dependence, point of contact address, telephone number and comments. This guide is an excellent training information resource.