Thread: "Anthrax" Calls

  1. #1
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    Default "Anthrax" Calls

    My Team has run more calls this weekend than we have for the past 2 months chasing "suspicious" mail and packages around the county. How are the other Teams handling this situation?
    Thanks

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    Capt 292-- I logged on today for that exact same reason, our responses have increased drastically. Heres what we are doing> A limited Hazmat level 1 response, inspecting the package, if no clues as published by the post office, we are double bagging- zip lock freezer bags- and giving to PD for evidence. We are wearing a N95 hepa mask, safety glasses, latex gloves, and using tongs - not touching anything. Local FBI has no interest (time) for non-suspect packages. So PD is stacking them in an outside evicence lock-up. If there are clues, we suit up in tyvek and wear SCBA and double bag, again giving it to PD. We decon the SCBA, bag it, and bag the suit and other PPE. I'd love to hear what other departments and hazmat teams are doing......

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    Oh stop....
    All this has me to the point of wearing latex gloves when opening mail from an address I have never seen. Even getting the urge to pack up with a protective suit to go into the post office. Maybe if we don't make such a big news-event of it, they will stop!

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    I am from a fairly small fulltime department and we are concerned about the anthrax threat as much as anyone. I was wondering if anyone could give us any help in how we should deal with a threat. We do not have any haz mat training beyond the awareness level. So we do not have any suits, just hepa masks and regular PPE.
    Stay Safe..Never Forget

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    Any non HazMat unit, such as most local FD's ,should be handling these calls defensively. However, if a letter is unopened and no threat has been made and the letter is suspicious only because of the return address, we, here, are dressing out in Level C protection, PPE and SCBA, with double rubber gloves and opening the letter to see if anything is in it. If nothing, give it back to the addressee.
    Letters with a threat accompanying them ("Anthrax Inside") should be handled by haz mat units. Any powders should be handled by haz mat units.
    We have six District HazMat teams here in Massachusetts. They are going full blast since last week. The Dept. of Public Health is overwhelmed with samples that need to be processed. As of right now(Wed Afternoon), things seem to be slowing slightly.

    [ 10-17-2001: Message edited by: Miltgf ]

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    10-17-01


    Wichita Fire Department "Level 6 Haz-Mat" Procedures

    Wichita Fire, Sedgwick County Fire and Sedgwick County 911 have developed a
    new type of call for anthrax threats/calls. They are paged and dispatched
    as a Hazmat 6 (Single unit response only), identifying it as an Anthrax
    call. Dispatch will ask the caller several questions and if the call does
    not meet certain criteria then the closest unit will respond. They will
    respond regular traffic; crew will investigate wearing turnouts and have
    SCBA's on their back, (mask not on unless observed conditions indicate
    otherwise such as confined areas or wind blowing). The officer will contact
    the calling party, avoiding any contact with any suspected product. If the
    officer determines that this may be a real anthrax call then they will
    advise dispatch to make it a level 2 (One or Both Units from Station 3 and a
    Battalion Chief) or level 3 Hazmat (Full Haz Mat Team Response). The
    dispatcher will contact the FBI and other appropriate agencies.

    The handling of the suspected product is the responsibility of the Haz Mat
    Team. Once the product has been bagged, it becomes evidence and the Law
    Enforcement agency takes over. Local Law enforcement does not have the
    training or equipment to handle contaminated products. Double or triple
    bagging the product properly in a Bio Hazard Bag, should make it
    transportable for Law Enforcement. It should not be transported in a state
    where contamination is spread beyond original site.

    Wichita Fire has developed and placed a kit on each responding company. The
    "kit" consists of level "B" suits, Chem-tape, Bio Hazard bags for suspected
    agent and Bio Hazard bags for used/contaminated equipment.


    Recommendations for Level 6 Haz-Mat Calls:

    1. "Detective Work" all these calls will require some detective
    work on your part. This begins with information that you receive from
    dispatch while enroute and when questioning people involved with the
    incident.

    2. Location of incident: Is this a high priority target for
    terrorists? I.e. government building, news agency, manufacturing facility,
    abortion clinic, mall, etc. Is the substance Indoors or Outdoors, is it in a
    populated area or not, is it contained or spread out? These are all examples
    of Location Questions that you should be asking yourself.

    3. Container Shape and Size: Most of the terrorist's threats
    involving Anthrax require the spores to become air borne. This can be done
    mechanically or by an explosive device. At this point in time most of these
    threats are made by letter. The action of opening the letter will release
    the spores into the air near the persons face. Remember, it is advantageous
    for the attacker to get the spores airborne so the spores can be inhaled. As
    a general rule large containers are considered poor modes of delivering and
    Anthrax Attack. It is cheaper and easier to ship a letter verses a large
    package. Small packages, less than 6 cubic inches should be considered the
    same as letters.

    4. Contents of Container: (envelope, box,) Is the container
    open? What color is the powder? Any powder having a color probably does not
    contain the Anthrax virus, however it still could be a Haz-Mat condition. A
    powder that has a fine texture and is white, off white, or has a slight
    yellow tint may be considered as suspicious. How much powder is in the
    container? A large amount of powder (half cup or more) would be considered
    non suspicious in most cases. Powder dispersed over a large area is often
    hard to estimate and should be considered a Level 3 if indoors and unable to
    determine origin. Consider the above examples as to whether or not it is
    suspicious.

    5. Addresses/Return Addresses: Identify (if possible) where the
    letter or package was being sent or has been sent to. If it fits into one of
    the above criteria, consider where (if possible) it was shipped from by a
    return address or postmark. No return address can also be considered
    suspicious. Locally mailed letters and packages may not be considered as
    much of a threat, unless a threatening letter or note accompanied the
    powder. An attempt should be made to contact intended recipients with local
    addresses, WPD can be contacted to assist you with this.

    6. No Package or Container: For Level 6 calls that do not have
    a letter, container, or threat accompanying them, the amount and color of
    the product should be considered. Is the product in a densely populated area
    or is it remote. Does it have the possibility of being dispersed? Is it in a
    high traffic area? Is it an inhalation hazard, skin contact hazard or both?
    All of these questions need to be answered by the first crew on the scene.
    Has any one contacted the substance either by breathing or touching? Have
    any of the patients been threatened? Can a logical solution be found for the
    product being where it is? I.E. did a cleaning person spill some cleaning
    powder, did a construction company spill some mortar or plaster? Common
    Sense will be your best ally in these types of situations.


    Instructions for use of "Anthrax Kit"

    The chemical protective clothing "kits" are to be used only on Anthrax
    (type) calls when crewmembers MUST contact a source that may be
    contaminated. For example, assisting a contaminated patient with decon. It
    would not be appropriate where the people are able to decon themselves.
    (The best location for patient decon is in a standard home shower, with
    regular soap and water.)

    Donning Procedures -
    * Workers in chemical protective clothing should always work
    in pairs, with backup.
    * Don the chemical suit over your duty uniform, not over your
    turnout gear.
    * Don your turnout boots, medical gloves and an SCBA after
    donning the suit.
    * Place SCBA facepiece on head prior to raising the chemical
    suit hood.
    * Use the Chem Tape to seal the openings between the sleeve
    and gloves.
    * Use the Chem Tape to seal the opening between the legs of
    the suit and your turnout boots.
    * Secure the hood to the facepiece with the Chem Tape.

    Removal Procedures -
    * Thoroughly wash the outside of the suit and SCBA with soap
    and water. Crewmembers in chemical suits can perform this task on each
    other.
    * It is not necessary to capture the runoff.
    * Assistants should use medical gloves - and only touch the
    outside (contaminated) portion of the suit.
    * Place all the suits, gloves, boots and used tape, in a large
    Biohazard bag.
    * Place each airpack in a large Biohazard bag. (We'll
    determine later if these items are really contaminated.)
    * As soon as possible, all crewmembers should wash their
    hands.
    * As soon as practical, shower, change uniform clothing and
    launder your "old" clothing using normal washer settings and detergent.

    Instructions for Bagging Suspected Materials

    The Wichita Police Department may request that materials involved in
    the Level 6, 2, 3, Haz-Mat call be collected as evidence. To assist the
    responding officers the following guideline should be utilized.

    * The responding Supervising Officer will have 1 gallon
    zip-lock baggies to store the contaminated evidence. The officers have been
    advised not to collect any contaminated evidence in anything other than the
    zip-lock baggies.
    * The baggies are large enough to place letters and small
    boxes into. Anything larger that would be taken into evidence will be placed
    in the red collection bags that will be carried in the Battalion Chief
    vehicles. These bags will be triple bagged and taped shut by the Haz-Mat
    Team.
    * Any questions regarding evidence collection and handling
    should be directed to the Supervising WPD Officer, the responding Battalion
    Chief and/or Haz-Mat Team.


    Anthrax Facts

    General -
    * Most threats are intended to disrupt services or they are
    designed to detract emergency services personnel from the real target.
    * Anthrax is a highly infectious disease caused by spores of a
    bacterium known as Bacillus anthracis.
    * Human infection may occur by three routes of exposure to
    anthrax spores: cutaneous, gastrointestinal, and pulmonary (inhalation).
    Cutaneous Anthrax -
    * Skin contact with live infected animals, or with the hide,
    hair or bones of an infected animal may lead to infection of a person's
    skin, known as cutaneous anthrax infection.
    * This is the most common manifestation of anthrax in humans,
    accounting for more than 95 percent of cases.
    * Untreated cutaneous anthrax infection should be considered a
    serious problem.
    Gastrointestinal Anthrax -
    * Eating undercooked or raw, infected meat can cause
    gastrointestinal anthrax infection.
    * Ingestion of large quantities of anthrax spores may induce
    the disease in humans.
    Pulmonary Anthrax (inhalation) -
    * The inhalation of large quantities (2000-20000, but usually
    + 15000) of anthrax spores may induce the disease in humans.
    * For a large amount of Anthrax spores to be inhaled, the
    spores have to be airborne. Powder lying in an envelope or on a sidewalk
    does not produce enough airborne spores to induce the anthrax disease.
    However, wind or other air currents will increase the number of spores that
    become airborne.
    * Experience has shown that inhalation anthrax is an extremely
    hazardous situation.
    * While potentially deadly, anthrax is treatable if identified
    within the first 12 hours. Treatment of anthrax infection involves
    administration of antibiotics.
    * Inhalation anthrax infection has two phases. During the
    first phase, which occurs within one to five days after inhalation of the
    spores, the patient has influenza-like symptoms, such as a cough, malaise,
    fatigue and mild fever.
    * Several days later these symptoms may subside, but are
    rapidly followed by the second phase, a more severe stage of disease.
    During the second phase, the patient experiences sudden onset of severe
    respiratory distress, and sometimes chest pain accompanied by fever. Chest
    x-rays may show fluid in the lung. Within a day, septic shock and death
    will likely occur.


    A field test Kit is available from Alexeter technologies for those who have
    the dollars to spend
    #P-102 ($6,260.00) and contains the following:
    1 Box of 25 each of anthrax, Ricin, SEB, botulinum and plague BTA(tm) Test
    Strips
    Proficiency Strips
    Collection Kit
    Guardian BTA(tm) Reader System
    Training
    If desired, additional test strips can be ordered at $495.00 per box of 25
    strips. According to the information, prices of the test strips are not
    expected to increase after November 1, 2001. However, the reader is expected
    to increase in price after that date.
    Alexeter Industries
    830 Seton Court Suite 6
    Wheeling Illinois 60090
    877-591-5571 www.alexeter.com


    On a personal note:
    What is sad is that one person has died nationwide as a result of Anthrax.
    If you get the anthrax virus and recognize the symptoms soon enough it is
    treatable with the appropriate antibiotics. A little over 100 deaths have
    been attributed to the Firestone tires and SUV rollovers, resulting in
    millions of tires being recalled. The media sensationalized both of these.
    However over 4,000 citizens and over 100 firefighters lost their lives last
    year due to fire, and that is apparently an acceptable loss. Fire prevention
    week barely gets 30 seconds of news time and people continue to die even
    though there is technology available to prevent this. I.e. smoke detectors,
    smoke alarm systems and sprinkler systems. A lot of our time and money is
    being spent trying to prepare for a low risk, low mortality event, when we
    need to place a priority and emphasis on a high risk, high mortality event ;
    Firefighter Safety, Fire Prevention and Education.
    Charlie Keeton
    Chief Training/Safety Officer
    Wichita Fire Department
    316-337-9146
    keeton_c@ci.wichita.ks.us


    Charlie Keeton
    Chief Training/Safety Officer
    Wichita Fire Department
    316-337-9146
    keeton_c@ci.wichita.ks.us

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    Our County Prosecutor has stepped in and has police only responding to make a quick determination if anything else is needed.
    They were getting 10-15 calls per town per day for last week of people saying that the mail had no return address or was from some address they didn't know. After having the HazMat team open a few credit card offers, campaign literature and baby shower invitations, the PD is attempting to see if there is something suspicious about the package/envelope before upgrading the response.
    The above is MY OPINION only and not that of anyone else. I am not representing any organization in making a post here!!!!

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    Any unopened envelope is handled by the PD. They wear gloves and double bag the envelope. Any opened or found powder is handled by our hazmat team. We find the circumstances (baking the night before) and contain the product for the PD as evidence. We've tested product for classification. The baking incident tested positive for flour. We can't rule out anthrax, but it is a little more reassuring for the home owner. I hope everyone is playing safely out there!

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    As most departments we are definetly getting in plenty of suit time. In regards to what we are doing the Tennessee Department of Health issued a new set of guidelines for decon.
    If a person has come in contact with a suspicous(sp?) powder they are to wash only the exposed skin and can carry their clothes home and wash them as normal. They are not recommending a full out decon.
    Just thought I would pass that on and see what everyone thought.
    It does speed up the time on scene a bunch though. We also are using a lot less equipment and supplies under the new guidelines.
    W J Vaughn

    It is what you learn AFTER you know it all that matters

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    The team here went on two call last wed and thats more than they run in an average month
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    This is what really sucks though,
    You go through all the proper approved procedures to properly secure the site, use all your necessary PPE, obtain a sample ect.
    You turn it over to the local pd who transports it to the local FBI lab, who in turn tells you that if you don't hear anything from them in around two weeks assume everything is allright.
    just think if we operated this efficently with fire supression !

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    Hi there fellows,
    Just a thought.

    If you want to wear latex gloves make sure its the powderless type to avoid any confusion later.

    Be safe

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    Ugh...a powder joke!
    I was just wondering about something. I was told by someone that they heard a brief newsclip about a hazmat team that tested positive for anthrax(of course they had no other info). I'm checking online to see what I can find. I'm curious if anyone heard any more about this.
    Thanks
    Celeste

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    Actually, the "powder-free gloves" isn't a joke...one of the incidents in the CT/MA area (forget which hospital) a worker noticed powder on their hands after removing gloves. DUH!

    More and more, I believe these scares are predominantly a Law-enforcement situation. The cops tend to have much better training and more practice asking questions and putting together a picture of what's going on -- you know, detective work. If the cop feels it's a legitimate risk, then it can be escalated from there.

    Capt -- not a Haz-mat team, but either CNN or MSNBC had a report today of a firefighter who was reportedly exposed after picking up department mail at the post office. That was all the details -- no department (though it was from the Washington, D.C. postal center) etc was named.
    IACOJ Canine Officer
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    Dalmation, Thanks for your quick response. We always use the proper PPE and I got a little concerned there. We've had more calls these past few weeks than we normally have in a year. I hope you weren't offended by the joke reference, but as you said .."DUH"!
    As long as they didn't get upset. I won't even mention powdered donuts!
    Be Safe All!
    Celeste VanBelle

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    Sad to hear that everyone in this country is running none stop with this anthrax scare. I thought it was just NJ??? Guess not. We started calling it the amtrax jobs because they are flying non-stop around here. Our city HAZMAT is averaging 20 + assignments for suspicious packages in a 12 hour period. Our county HAZMAT unit responses are dbl the responses.

    Regarding the rumor of a Firefighter/s exposed to anthrax, it was a Trenton NJ firefighter picking up mail at one of the affected post offices in the Trenton NJ area. Last I heard he and any others affected have been on cipro and no longer have tested + since then. I assume he is doing fine.

    Regarding the latex gloves with powder, please refrain from using that glove. A P2 style glove will do the job. Also, refrain from making any jokes or playing a hoax with anthrax. The feds have a zero tolerance policy and have already locked up several firefighters and other first responders because they sent an anthrax hoax or played one on the job!!!


    be safe all!
    Just remain calm, it will be okay!

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    Just a quick note, to the FF who said his dept was wearing tyvek suits and N95 Respirators, I suggest you go to the CDC or IAFF's website. I believe they suggest nothing less then a P100 respirator.

    As for us, its a PD and Dept. of Health issue. Unless there are acute medical sympotms, chest pain etc. Then we have level B suits, with SCOTT masks and P100 filters. I have read numerous statments recommending not wearing full SCBA unless it is aeresol in nature. I believe that was also on the nationals website, and possibly the CDC's. We have tyvek suits for anyone who is deconned so they don't have to walk or be wheeled around on a stretcher naked.

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    Originally posted by Albert Almeida:
    <STRONG>
    Regarding the rumor of a Firefighter/s exposed to anthrax, it was a Trenton NJ firefighter picking up mail at one of the affected post offices in the Trenton NJ area. Last I heard he and any others affected have been on cipro and no longer have tested + since then. I assume he is doing fine.</STRONG>
    Papers in Trenton area reported that his initial tests came back negative and that he has some chronic respiratory condition, so it was a bad news story.
    The above is MY OPINION only and not that of anyone else. I am not representing any organization in making a post here!!!!

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    Originally posted by Fireguy57:
    <STRONG>Oh stop....
    All this has me to the point of wearing latex gloves when opening mail from an address I have never seen. Even getting the urge to pack up with a protective suit to go into the post office. Maybe if we don't make such a big news-event of it, they will stop!</STRONG>
    AMEN !!! It's really getting Old in the Media. I know some have died as a result of Anthrax Poisoning and that is devistating but the Media is playing this thing up so high that any idiot wanting to feel noticed puts powder in an envelope and mails it or with the way things have been latley all you have to do is dump powdered coffee creamer on the ground and all hell breaks loose on the news.....More Films at 11 Sports Fans !!!


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