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3 December 1997

Date: Wed, 03 Dec 97 12:40:28 cdt
From: piringeb[at]
Subject: Training Local Responders

I am cynically amused by the perception that local emergency services are
unprepared, untrained and incapable of effectively responding to terrorist
attacks. While we do need additional training and continuing education on
terrorism, local fire-rescue, emergency medical and law enforcement personnel
are much better prepared to deal with these incidents than many so-called
experts believe. Terrorism is a motivation for harm to people, property or
systems, not a mechanism of harm. Knowing that harm was intentional rather than
accidental can help us manage the consequences. The means that terrorists use
are not all that "unconventional." 

I suggest that local emergency responders posses knowledge of and have
considerable experience with hazardous substances, protection against pathogens,
handling mass casualties, dealing with wounds from small arms and explosives,
crime scenes and command and control of large scale emergencies.

1) Local emergency response personnel (ERP) know about hazardous substances.
Local ERP are experienced at responding to hazardous substance releases,
unintentional and intentional. These are relatively common occurrences. Haz mat
awareness training has been integrated into basic training for police, fire and
EMS personnel. Significant numbers of these folks are also trained at the haz
mat operations level. The majority of the nation's trained and equipped teams of
haz mat technicians and specialists are composed of local ERP. Hazardous
substance emergency response is regulated by OSHA and the EPA and National Fire
Protection Association standards.    

2) Local ERP already deal with blood- and air- borne pathogens. Medical first
responders and emergency medical technicians learn the mantra "B-S-I," "Body
Substance Isolation," their first day of class. Gloves, protective eye wear, a
face mask, disposable gown and shoe covers are carried by many ERP or readily
available in fire apparatus, ambulances and police cars. There are existing
federal regulations on protection from blood-and air-borne pathogens that apply
to ERP, not to mention national standards for training.  

3) Local ERP can handle mass casualty incidents. Plane, train, bus and multiple
motor vehicle accidents. Who are the first responders when a gunman fires into a
crowd? To chemical spills? Natural disasters, like the mass destruction of a
tornado? The day that Air Florida flt 90 crashed into the Potomac River the
Washington DC,  ERP were simultaneously handling a major subway accident less
than  one mile from the air crash -- during one of the seasons worst snowstorms.
Local emergency response agencies have dealt with mass casualty incidents.
Sometimes multiple, simultaneous occurrences. And in some pretty awful

4) Emergency scenes as crime scenes - crime scenes as emergency scenes. Let me
just list a few of the types of combination crime and emergency incidents that
local ERP deal with already: car bombings, abortion clinic bombings and arson,
other malicious burning and use of explosives, shootings, auto accidents (such
as DWI), clandestine drug labs, hostage situations. Well, you probably get the
idea. Local law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel frequently work together to
mitigate situations with consideration for the operational concerns and
responsibilities of other agencies and the specialized expertise they each bring
to the scene. 

5) Local ERP can command and control large scale emergencies. I would like to
make this simple and just say "the Oklahoma City fire and police departments and
city government, April, 1995, Murrah Federal Office Building"  But Oklahoma City
is just one instance. The Gulf and East coast emergency services who have dealt
with the devastation of hurricanes. Those ERP who confront the terrible
destruction of tornadoes. Those West coast ERP who demonstrate time and time
again their abilities to deal quite effectively with the consequences of
wildfires and earthquakes.

One problem with the national terrorism initiatives is that they focus on the
motivation - terrorism - rather than mechanism(s) and effect. We cannot control
the motivation of the terrorist. We CAN manage the consequences of the terrorist
act. And we can manage those consequences effectively if we recognize that we
already have experience with biological, etological, nuclear, incendiary,
chemical and explosive events; as well as with mass casualties, crime scenes and
large scale emergency management.

We should deal with the domestic or external terrorism threat the same way we
deal with the other natural and human threats we face. By developing tailored
strategies for mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Recognizing the
commonalities many emergencies share as well as the unique elements. 

One problem of the national anti-terrorism effort is that our leaders failed to
recognize that the nation's experience base is not with "Beltway bandit"
consultants, defense contractors looking for post cold war business and the
like. The experience base is at the local and state level. 

National terrorism training for local ERP has mostly ignored existing, and
effective networks, for delivering such training to local ERP. Networks, that in
some cases, are already linked to federal agencies. For example FEMA's Emergency
Management Institute links to the state emergency management agencies and their
training elements (who have some relevant experience in disaster mitigation,
preparedness, response and recovery as well as links to local government and
their emergency agencies and established mechanisms for training local ERP).
FEMA's National Fire Academy TRADE (Training Resource and Data Exchange) network
already links the state fire training entities AND the training programs of the
nation's largest cities to the Academy and is the mechanism for training state
and local instructors and disseminating certain NFA courses to those entities.
Similar examples exist in the law enforcement, emergency medical, public works
and other fields.

Terrorism is a motivation for harm to people, property or systems, not a
mechanism of harm. 

As a nation we already have a lot of experience in managing consequences. And
this experience is on the front line, at the state and local level We've got a
good foundation to build upon.

Date: Sun, 30 Nov 1997 22:20:01 -0600 From: Robb Pilkington <rpilking[at]> To: terrorism[at] Subject: First Responders to Terrorism Incidents (WMD) It is with great interest that I have been following the discussions regarding the Domestic Preparedness for WMD program funded under Nunn-Lugar-Domenici (sp). As a brief review, and from the standpoint of the individual that has to coordinate the State response to a WMD event as the Operations Officer for the State of Missouri, Emergency Managment Agency, I offer the following: 1. The part of the Domestic Preparedness Program which provides direct training and limited equipment support to designated cities was funded at approximately 30 million dollars. The program direction rests with DoD, principally with the Secretary of the Army, who has charged Chemical and Biological Defense Command with program implementation. The US Public Health Service is also participating with DoD. 27 cities were initially designated for phase 1 training with 120 total identified throughout the US. 2. The program at the city level begins with an orientation briefing for "First Responders", and another for political leadership. Following the briefings, the Cities work with CBDCOM to develop specific training objectives. The USPHS parallels DOD working with local hospitals. 3. The training provided is conducted over nominally a 1 week period of time in a "Train -the Trainer" format. Follow on training throughout the community then is conducted by "trained" local trainers. A table top exercise follows the initial training. 4. USPHS provides, in addition to training, some pharmaceuticals, and possibly detection and protective equipment. Both DoD and USPHS indicate that this is a "one time" issue of training gear and equipment. The Cities must undertake to maintain equipment and Protective Devices on their own. Program Concerns: 1. WMD response, with the numbers of victims possible, becomes a regional response. You must include in the training for the cities identified all of the mutual aid jurisdictions within the region. This has been done in nearly every jurisdiction trained so far, with varying degrees of success. 2. WMD response will also immediately involve other State resources, which presently are not included in the DoD/USPHS program. States must "pirate" training material, or, as many have done, develop their own. One of the most limiting factors has been DoD's decision not to include the National Guard in any discussions involving WMD. The bottom line here is that program continuity is not being promoted nor practiced. (This is very similar to the 23 Federal Agencies which have, on their own, developed WMD preparedness central coordination or continuity) 3. The National Guard, in most States, (and to most Governors) will definately be called to respond to a WMD event. Other State Agencies may include Health Departments, Natural Resources (HAZMAT), Social Services, State Patrols, Highway Departments and Volunteer Relief Agencies (Red Cross, Sal Army, etc). Needless to say, none of these Agencies are being provided the training by DoD/USPHS, but yet will be "onscene" right behind the municipal first responders. 4. As important as the training is, the inclusion of the agencies above in any exercise is also critical for expedicious and successful response. 5. Because of the State being excluded from DoD / USPHS training (They contact the cities directly) the ability of expanding the training to smaller cities, is dependant upon other funding sources and state priorities. The how and why DoD selected the 120 cities they did, and the order they are to be trained has never been explained, nor were States consulted during the decision process. None the less, to really be able to say you have a "State" prepared to respond to a WMD event, most every fire department, EMS crew, hospital, Law Enforcement Agency, Public Works Agency and Relief Organization must be trained. 6. There is a need for continued, ongoing training and exercising at the local level, and at the "Integrated Local, State, Volunteer and Federal" level. Hands-on or functional training and exercises are nearly always preferred to "classroom" discussion Bottom Line: What needs to happen next: 1. A central federal agency needs to coordinate all federal WMD preparedness and response activities. FEMA has been mentioned as taking over the Nunn-Lugar DP program. 2. Continued City emphasis with additional State Agency Responder program added. 3. Insure all exercises include local, state and federal participants (FBI at minimum) 4. Get realistic regarding "National Response Teams". Marine Chemical teams, DMATs, etc response times somewhat untested and not believed at the state/local level. Integrate teams into training and exercises. Follow saying "Train as we will Respond" 5. Put the detection, protection and decontamination equipment into the hands of the responders. Some at the City level, some at the State Level and with the National Guard. How Missouri has viewed the WMD response issue: 1. We are working with Kansas City (and St. Louis when they begin training) on the training and exercise program. The Missouri Department of Health has been "kept in the loop" by the USPHS, Emergency managemnt is working with KCFD. 2. Missouri has funded WMD training for all first responders using the National fire Academy course administered through the Univ. of Missouri Fire and Rescue Incident. Other courses have been developed and presented to the State Wide Mutual Aid coordinators, volunteer agencies and other State Agencies. 3 exercises focusing on WMD have been conducted: 2 table tops and 1 functional combining Local, State and Federal Agencies in Jefferson City. 3. The National Guard has reviewed unit training, and has participated in State exercises. Final thought: Emergency Response to any incident is like an inverted pyramid. At the point of attack is Local resources. Backing them up are Regional and State Resources and following behind are Federal responders. Any program which bypasses this principal is one that ignores a proven system. Robb Pilkington Operations Officer Missouri State Emergency Management Agency ====================================================================== To post a new message to the list, send E-mail terrorism[at] To unsubscribe, send E-mail to listserv[at] with the following text in the message body: UNSUBSCRIBE terrorism To send a message to the list administrator, send E-mail to churton.budd[at] ======================================================================