A Few Pertinent Questions:
1. When will the "bio-terror
drills" go live?
2. How will police, military and the American people know the difference between "real world" bio-terror and "drilled" bio-terror?
3. Will the video footage of bio-terror drills be used by the government or media for pandemic propaganda purposes at a later date?
Resounding Bio-Terror Drill Themes:
1. A bio-terror attack and
subsequent pandemic is not a matter of "if", but "when".
2. Synchronicity and coordination of ALL local, county, state and federal government emergency agencies is being repeatedly drilled by DHS and FEMA in congruence with COG (Continuity of Government) / Martial Law plans.
Source: Light Watcher
Abstract: One of the most complex bioterrorism drills ever undertaken began Friday with a World War II-era airplane buzzing the city to simulate a deadly attack and doctors handing out thousands of jelly beans as pretend medicine.
State health officials planned for up to 10,000 people to take part in the three-day exercise in McAlester, a city of 18,000.
The drill was prompted by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the anthrax-by-mail scare last fall.
"We're looking to create a model that can be duplicated in other communities across the country," said Dr. Timothy Cathey, medical director for the Pittsburgh County Health Department. "A crisis is what happens when you're attacked. A disaster is what can happen if you're not prepared."
Under the make-believe scenario, the C-47 airplane released a fine spray containing pneumonic plague. The plague was to infect 95 percent of McAlester's population with the lung-attacking disease and kill 120 people by Saturday afternoon.
As the drill played out Friday, health officials pretended patients were arriving at hospitals and doctors' offices with fever, chills and coughs.
Within a few hours of the staged attack, law enforcement officials began arriving at the county health department to pick up one-week dosages of the antibiotics Cipro and doxycycline jelly beans, actually for officers and their families.
Health officials who have been doing radio spots, distributing fliers and speaking to community organizations planned to distribute 10,000 packets of jelly beans and 1,000 pediatric juice doses within 24 hours.
Nearly 700 volunteers will administer fake antibiotics at five spots around town Saturday morning.
About 60 Boy Scouts will act as patients Saturday at McAlester's Army Ammunitions Plant, where doctors will set up a triage station. Many of the boys will go to the hospital by ambulance and bus; some will go to a fake morgue.
In a real attack, the bulk of the medicine would come from the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile secret stashes of medicine at locations throughout the United States.
McAlester officials put in a mock request for the antibiotics and a National Guard unit in Oklahoma City planned to practice sorting the drugs and then fly medical supplies by helicopter to McAlester.
Besides the plague scenario in McAlester, there will be a mock outbreak of smallpox in Tulsa and a staged attack of botulism in the water in Lawton.
The idea for the exercise came in October, as Americans were worrying that crop-dusting planes could be used to spray deadly germs.
The drill, called "Sooner Spring," is a follow-up to a national program last summer at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland called "Dark Winter." In that exercise, officials pretended that Iraqi-financed Afghan terrorists were spraying the smallpox virus into shopping centers in Oklahoma City, Philadelphia and Atlanta (Light Watcher, 2002).
Title: A Nation Challenged: The Bioterror Threat; Three-Day Bioterrorism Drill Begins In An Oklahoma Town
Date: April 13, 2002
Source: New York Times
Abstract: One of the most complex bioterrorism drills ever undertaken began today with an airplane buzzing the city to simulate a deadly attack, and doctors handing out thousands of jelly beans as pretend medicine.
State health officials planned for as many as 10,000 people to take part in the three-day exercise in McAlester, a city of 18,000.
The drill was prompted by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the anthrax deaths last fall.
''We're looking to create a model that can be duplicated in other communities across the country,'' said Dr. Timothy Cathey, medical director for the Pittsburg County Health Department. ''A crisis is what happens when you're attacked. A disaster is what can happen if you're not prepared.''
In the scenario, a World War II-era C-47 airplane released a fine spray containing pneumonic plague, infecting 95 percent of McAlester's population and killing 120 people by Saturday afternoon.
As the drill played out today, health officials pretended that patients were arriving at hospitals and doctors' offices with fever, chills and coughs. Within a few hours, law enforcement officials began arriving at the county health department to pick up one-week dosages of the antibiotics Cipro and doxycycline -- jelly beans, actually -- for officers and their families.
Health officials planned to distribute 10,000 packets of jelly beans and 1,000 pediatric juice doses within 24 hours.
Nearly 700 volunteers were expected to administer fake antibiotics at five spots around town on Saturday morning.
About 60 Boy Scouts were to act as patients on Saturday at McAlester's Army Ammunitions Plant, where doctors will set up a triage station. Many of the boys will go to the hospital by ambulance and bus; some will go to a fake morgue.
In a real attack, the bulk of the medicine would come from the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile, secret stashes of medicine located throughout the nation.
McAlester officials put in a mock request for the antibiotics, and a National Guard unit in Oklahoma City planned to practice sorting the drugs and then fly medical supplies by helicopter to McAlester.
Besides the plague scenario in McAlester, there will be a mock outbreak of smallpox in Tulsa and a staged attack of botulism in the water in Lawton.
The idea for the Oklahoma exercise came in October, as Americans were worrying that crop-dusting planes could be used to spray deadly germs.
The drill is a follow-up to a national program last summer at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. In that exercise, officials pretended that Iraqi-financed Afghan terrorists were spraying the smallpox virus into shopping centers in Oklahoma City, Philadelphia and Atlanta (New York Times, 2002).
Title: Osterholm Moderates Bioterrorism
Preparedness Exercise For New York Officials
Date: June 26, 2002
Abstract: Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), moderated a bioterrorism preparedness exercise for the mayor of New York City and other top New York officials Jun 24.
The "tabletop" exercise was designed by Osterholm and CIDRAP Medical Director Kristine Moore, MD, MPH, in collaboration with the New York City Health Department and Office of Emergency Management. Conducted at the city's Office of Emergency Management, the exercise focused on the decisions, interagency coordination, and communication to the public that would be necessary in responding to a bioterrorism event.
"Our center was very pleased to be able to work with the New York City Health Department and the Office of Emergency Management to conduct the tabletop [drill]," Osterholm said. "I thought it was very productive in terms of identifying the strengths and weaknesses in their system."
Osterholm said the specifics of the initial bioterrorism scenario and how the city responded are confidential. The exercise reviewed critical decision points such as determining where an event or exposure occurred, providing drugs and medical care to those at risk, coordinating transportation, and addressing quarantine issues, the NYC Health Department said in a June 24 news release.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg commented in the news release, "This tabletop exercise demonstrates how the city of New York is continuing to prepare for any possible contingency. By bringing together the city's commissioners, their expert staff, and leaders from our state and federal sister agencies, today's exercise represents an important step and one of the many preventive strategies that New York is undertaking to enhance our capacity to effectively respond to a bioterrorist attack."
Osterholm said he is impressed with the city's commitment to preparing for the threat of a biological attack. "I think New York City is the best-prepared state or local government in the country in terms of responding to bioterrorism," he said. "The fact that the mayor and the entire senior management participated showed the dedication of the city to being as prepared as possible should anything like this ever occur."
Besides Bloomberg, participants in the exercise included the city's top administrators for health, emergency management, fire protection, environmental protection, corrections, transportation, and several other departments. Representatives of the Greater New York Hospital Association, the state health department, the FBI, and other key state and federal agencies also took part.
The city has conducted several bioterrorism drills and tabletop exercises over the past several years, according to the news release. These exercises contributed to the effective interagency response to the World Trade Center attacks and anthrax attacks last fall, officials said (CIDRAP, 2002).
Title: Baltimore Prepares
For Worst In Terror Drill
Date: July 13, 2002
Abstract: Emergency response teams treated dozens of simulated injuries Saturday in Baltimore as part of a test of the city's readiness for a potential chemical attack by terrorists.
"What we realized after 9/11 is that we could be faced with an incident of two, three four, 500 people in a very short period of time, which caused us to have to change our thinking and our assumptions," said Dennis Shrader of the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The U.S. Air Force set up a mobile hospital to help medical officials handle the overflow, but the facility was quickly overwhelmed.
Every volunteer patient had to be sprayed down in a decontamination tent.
"It's almost like an assembly line. Someone's cutting clothes, someone's washing and so forth," said Master Sgt. Steve Bloodsworth, of the Maryland Air National Guard.
The heat was so intense in the decontamination suits that officials stopped the drill for 15 minutes so the rescuers would not get dehydrated -- something that would not have been possible in a real emergency.
The hospital did run out of supplies, something officials expected to happen in a real emergency.
"You learn to improvise. This is not going to be a totally smooth process," said Dr. Tom Scalea, a physician in the hospital's shock trauma center.
Officials said they expected to have bottlenecks during the exercise.
"A very busy trauma day at shock trauma is 40 patients in a 24-hour period," Air Force trauma surgeon Col. Ty Putnam said. "They've just received 100 patients in an hour and a half" (CNN, 2002).
Title: ‘Trying To Vaccinate Against Fear’
Date: September 27, 2002
Source: Baltimore Sun
Abstract: In a simulation of what public health experts and government leaders fear could be a real-life nightmare, a woman walked into a Frederick emergency room yesterday displaying symptoms of history's most virulent disease: smallpox.
About 2 p.m., actress Amanda Strand told doctors in the fake emergency room that she had a rash and a 103-degree fever. Within 20 minutes, a SWAT team in dark-blue body armor had stormed in, barred the doors, and duct-taped the vents.
A helmeted doctor with a pistol strapped to his thigh informed everyone they would be unable to leave for eight to 10 hours and would then be quarantined or monitored by health officials for at least 17 days.
The federal government has warned that should a terrorist bring smallpox into the United States, counties could be on their own in confronting the disease for up to three days. Yesterday's drill, held at Hood College, was part of Frederick County's efforts to ready itself for a bioterrorism attack -- a possibility, officials say, given the presence of Camp David near Thurmont and Fort Detrick in Frederick.
"It could happen here, and it's not enough to have some outdated plan sitting in a book somewhere," said John Vitarello, a Frederick cardiologist who helped devise the smallpox response plan and the simulation. "We've tried to look at every detail and every contingency that could occur under an outbreak, and now we've practiced it."
Biological defense and public health experts praised Frederick County for the timeliness and thoroughness of its efforts.
"I think the folks in Frederick are extraordinary," said Elin Gursky of the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security in Arlington, Va. "They're showing rare vision and awareness of the problem. These are not people who were charged with doing this, but they've recognized the problem on their own, and they're filling the void, coming forward in a remarkable way."
Health officials around the Baltimore-Washington area said the Frederick simulation was the most thorough response they have heard of in the state, though most other counties have revised their emergency response plans in the last year and some, such as Howard, expect to run simulations.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks on Washington and New York and the subsequent anthrax scares, bioterrorism has become a hot subject in government and media circles, with speculation often centering on smallpox because the disease spreads easily and is deadly, killing one in three who are infected.
The medical community declared smallpox eradicated in 1980, and the last U.S. case occurred more than 50 years ago.
But bioterrorism experts speculate that hostile nations such as Iraq may have obtained samples of smallpox, and as a result, federal, state and local officials have spent the last year revamping plans for confronting an outbreak.
This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released comprehensive guidelines describing how local health officials should set up vaccination clinics.
The Bush administration is discussing vaccinating all 280 million Americans, the Associated Press reported yesterday, though the vaccine kills about one in every million people and causes severe side effects.
Federal officials say they could now vaccinate a little more than half of all U.S. citizens.
Vitarello said that he, like most people, grew interested in bioterrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks. He felt the personal connection to world events, he said, when he heard a cousin's nephew had died in the World Trade Center collapse.
Unwilling to leave his community's safety in someone else's hands, he sought training from experts on nuclear, chemical and biological warfare, accruing nearly 700 hours and often rising at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. to sketch emergency plans for Frederick County. Then, he and others who share his passion helped county officials craft a detailed response plan.
They were amazed at the scope of the undertaking -- isolating the initial victim and all those potentially exposed, creating vaccination and quarantine centers, closing off roads, communicating with the press and with state and federal officials.
Vitarello hopes to conduct similar drills for possible anthrax, dirty bomb and chemical attacks. He and other county officials said they were pleased with the drill.
"I don't think it could've gone any better considering how little time we've had to prepare," said county Sheriff James Hagy. Drills almost never simulate real emergencies, but they at least give police, doctors and emergency workers a feel for techniques, said James E. Bowes, head of the county's health department.
"You can plan but it won't happen this way," said Bowes, who worked with smallpox patients as a medical student in 1947. "Still, it's good for the ego to think you're in the lead on confronting these issues, and I think we are."
Response plans can't be
deemed sound until practiced, others said (Baltimore Sun, 2002).
Title: Students To Be Vaccinated As Part Of A Statewide Bioterror Drill"
Date: October 14, 2002
Source: Vaccination News
Title: Bioterrorism Drill Begins In Tucson,
Date: November 21, 2002
Abstract: Two men burst into a banquet room and spray guests with a white gas. Preliminary findings indicate the substance is anthrax. Antidotes from the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile are flown in.
The surgeon general, Arizona Gov. Jane Hull, public health officials and thousands of volunteers were bracing Wednesday for one of the nation's worst nightmares: a bioterrorism attack on U.S. soil.
Tucson officials launched a three-day drill that will include mock attacks, emergency evacuations and medication airlifts to test how well the nation is prepared for a biological attack.
"It's fitting that this exercise is starting the day after the Homeland Security bill passed," Hull said. "The new reality requires a collective need to protect and defend our communities and our nation from a strange, new kind of warfare."
U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona said federal officials are eager to learn lessons from the exercise, one of the nation's biggest bioterror drills since the Sept. 11 attacks.
"Build the resiliency, the capability into the American public that most people don't believe is there yet," he told participants at the Tucson Convention Center.
The Tucson drill had been planned since the spring of 2000, and similar exercises will be staged across the country, Carmona said.
The simulations will test the ability of local, state and federal emergency and public health agencies to coordinate their response.
After the mock assault at the convention center, 500 participants, mainly public health officials, discussed how to respond to such an attack.
Later Wednesday, Gov. Hull was to request an aid package from the national stockpile. A 6-ton training package of equipment and mock medications will be shipped from one of 10 secure sites around the country to the Arizona Air National Guard. Local health officials will use the contents to practice immunizing about 1,000 volunteers.
In a real attack, the package would be a 50-ton emergency package containing antibiotics, antidotes, vaccines, syringes and other supplies. It would be delivered within 12 hours of the attack (UCLA, 2002).