You've finally gotten a chance to sit down to work on your department's counter-terrorism plans and programs. But, where do you go for detailed, accurate information? In the short term you're trying to locate information sources, including those from the Internet. In the long term you're probably also thinking about further training for you and others in your fire department. So, here are some resources to help you out.
You could spend hours "surfing the web." However, we'll save you the trouble. Let's start with the obvious one: www.firehouse.com You're already here so you must know about it already - great information in a highly readable style. Next is the Learning Resource Center (LRC) of the US Fire Administration (www.lrc.fema.gov). The LRC contains the free world's largest collection of fire and rescue resource materials, including a great deal of solid information on terrorism. Here's another one that should prove helpful: www.usfa.fema.gov/hazmat/bioagents.htm
If your research concerns medical issues then one of the most reliable sources is the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Its website is www.cdc.gov Recent materials included "Anthrax Bioterrorism: Lessons Learned and Future Directions" and a "Summary of October 2002 ACIP Smallpox Vaccination Recommendations." The CDC's specific Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Website is www.bt.cdc.gov.
Trying to decide how to more securely handle departmental mail. Try the US Postal Service's site: www.USPS.gov
How about current specific information on recent worldwide terrorism incidents? Consider the website of the Terrorism Research Center (www.terrorism.com) The Center also has an extensive on-line bookstore, including some hard-to-find texts.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation's website (www.fbi.gov) as you would expect covers the law enforcement aspects of terrorism. Police and fire agencies are working closer together now so check that site out, too.
Looking for training videos? The Public Health Foundation (www.phf.org) has numerous free videos that deal with terrorism.
As you might expect the entry point here has got to be the National Fire Academy (800-238-3358). The Academy is the fire service's primary federal training organization. Numerous classes now deal with terrorism in whole or in part. For example, the Academy's excellent two-week Arson course should give you insight into a fairly common terrorist tool, incendiaries.
Another major training resource is that of the Justice Department's Office for Domestic Preparedness (ODP) at 800-368-6498. The ODP has created a training "partnership" known as the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium. The Consortium includes:
- The Center for Domestic Preparedness (256-847-2000), Anniston, Alabama (which offers live nerve agent training). The Center is a Justice Department training facility.
- The Louisiana State University's Academy of Counter-Terrorism Education (www.ace.lsu.edu) which, among other courses, offers a truly excellent biological agent course).
- The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (505-835-5312) provides a train-the-trainer course, "Incident Response to Terrorist Explosives" for certified fire, EMS or law enforcement instructors. This is another great program!
- Texas A&M University's National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (979) 458-6912) is home to "Disaster City," where many Urban Search and Rescue Teams have trained. In addition it offers several counter-terrorism programs including ones on incident command, EMS, and public works.
There are other ODP Consortium members (such as the US Department of Energy) and partners (such as the International Association of Fire Fighters, and the US Public Health Service). You can check out ODP's many services by logging on to its website at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/odp
In future issues we'll provide you with other counter-terrorism resources. If you discover any resources that you'd like us to share in future issues of firehouse.com feel free to contact me at Saitta@aol.com
Dr. Joe Saitta is the Director of the Public Safety Institute. A former federal agent and deputy fire chief, he brings unique perspectives to counter-terrorism issues and resources. He has served as a contract instructor at the National Fire Academy for the past 22 years.