Missouri, Rhode Island, and Nevada

Missouri, Rhode Island, and Nevada

By Anthony Lanzillotti

Missouri Funeral Directors seek help with PPE funding

Funeral home directors in Missouri have asked the state to help them obtain federal funding for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE). The request came after a recent meeting of the directors to discuss the need for the PPE, which would limit their exposure to biological or chemical agents left on a cadaver after a terrorist incident. Don Otto, executive director of the Missouri Funeral Directors Association, has initiated talks with the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency about the funding request. The State Emergency Management Agency previously provided various state and local agencies with PPE and other equipment needed to respond to incidents involving the use of biological or chemical agents.   Susie Stonner, a spokeswoman for the State Emergency Management Agency, indicated that, because it is an organization ‚Äúrepresenting private businesses,” the association might not be eligible for homeland-security grant money. She said, though, that the state will wait for a formal request from the association before reviewing the issue. The agency already has plans to provide free training to funeral directors later this year. Included in the training will be discussions about precautionary measures available and ‚Äúresource management‚ÄĚ for and within possible disaster areas. Related Notes: The city of Columbia’s police department and Office of Volunteer Services have started to invite members of the public to attend free training sessions devoted to the subject of terrorism awareness. The first two-hour session, held at the city council chambers, covered both domestic and international terrorism, discussed possible indicators of terrorist activity, and spelled out the procedures to be followed in reporting suspicious activity. Attendees also were encouraged to participate in and/or otherwise become involved in programs sponsored by such groups as Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS), the Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT), and the Health Department Volunteer Corps.  

Rhode Island Responds to bioterrorism in mock Q Fever outbreak

Brown University served as the real-life stage for a six-hour public health drill carried out in cooperation with state and local law-enforcement and public-health agencies. The scenario for the drill was a bioterrorist attack that released Coxiella burnetti, an airborne pathogen, inside the university‚Äôs Rockefeller Library. The Coxiella burnetti bacteria causes Q Fever, a disease that affects approximately half of those exposed to it and causes high fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting as well as a number of dangerous respiratory ailments.   The purpose of the drill, carried out on Friday 22 April, was to test the university’s ability to manage a bioterrorism incident. Because Q Fever has an incubation period of two to three weeks, the actual time of release could not be determined, according to the scenario, which meant that all individuals who had been inside the library over a period of three weeks would have to be diagnosed. A mock clinic was set up at the campus’s Pizzitola Center, where volunteers had their vital signs checked and their simulated symptoms diagnosed. Antibiotics were “administered” to all potential victims, and those exhibiting symptoms of the disease were “treated” by doctors.   Students from Brown’s Emergency Medical Services team also took part in the drill, which was carried out during the various festivities that are part of the university’s Spring Weekend. The timing of the drill limited the number of volunteers to some extent, but those who did participate were taught the real-world lesson that an attack or outbreak similar to, or worse than, the simulated Q Fever incident could occur at any time.  

Nevada Continues focus on grants and communications interoperability following acquisition of mobile command center

Grant programs, mutual-aid agreements, training needs, hazard mitigation, and implementation of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) were among the principal topics discussed earlier this week at a Nevada Emergency Management Conference in Las Vegas. Among the attendees at the conference, hosted by the Nevada Department of Public Safety (DPS), were representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and a number of state agencies.   Many of the same topics were on the agenda of a meeting on 21 April sponsored by the Nevada Commission on Homeland Security. The principal topics of discussion at the earlier meeting, which was a video-conference between the Nevada Division of Emergency Management in Carson City and the Southern Nevada Area Health Education center in Las Vegas, were an overview of all of the U.S. Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP) grant applications received by the state, and the approval of fiscal year 2005 ODP grant applications. Also on the agenda were a discussion of the status of a statewide vulnerability assessment now being carried out and an update on the Nevada State Communications Interoperability Plan. The latter, which is being implemented by the Nevada Communications Steering Committee, is intended to facilitate the planning and development of interoperable communication systems designed for use between government officials and the state‚Äôs emergency-response agencies. Related Notes: In large part because of similar grant conferences and meetings carried out last year, the Nevada DPS was able to deliver a customized mobile command center earlier this year to the department‚Äôs Homeland Security Unit. The command center, named S.T.A.R.T. (State Tactical Assessment and Response Team), is expected to have a number of uses statewide, including but not limited to serving as a base of operations for crime-scene communications, the support of narcotics investigations, and responses to terrorist incidents. S.T.A.R.T. is equipped with a number of advanced equipment systems, including radiological/chemical/biological detection instruments, video-monitoring devices, and various communications systems. Nevada also has been successful in using ODP grant funding both for training and for the purchase of other essential equipment.

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Anthony Lanzillotti

Anthony Lanzillotti

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