Exotic WMD Compounds: Secure website for first responders, federal grants and more
First off, I'd like to extend our most heartfelt concerns to the families of the civilian contractor personnel currently held hostage in Iraq. These people are doing nothing more than trying to make the way of life for the Iraqi people a little safer and better, and being taken hostage -- condition unknown -- is how an element of the population thanks them.
Onto better news, as readers of this column are already aware, the 3M FR-40 and MSA Millenium are excellent choices in respiratory protection. The Federal Agency responsible for ensuring the safety of products that may be used in a WMD environment, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), has recently revealed the first two respirators to pass their grueling CBRN certification process agree with us.
According to the NIOSH, the FR-40 and Millenium meet their Cap 1 level of protection. Remember though, that no respirator can adequately protect against all hazards, and the correct, new filters must be used for the mask to function as intended. More can be found here: www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/cbrnaprcheck.html
Recently in the media, we've seen multiple reports of an exotic compound used in scientific research possibly being considered as a WMD Agent. Without making a list, there are literally thousands of products that could potentially be used as a WMD agent.
While these things make for excellent media fodder, in reality, they are problematic to employ. Also, consider past events. With few exceptions, most attacks have been simple in development and execution.
While I'm not telling you to discount the possibility of a sophisticated attack, with so many millions of pounds of equally hazardous products surrounding us on the highway in bulk, it seems that a simpler approach with a more common product will be the better bet.
For those of you in the South, now would be a good time to call your brethren in the North about their lessons learned in dealing with the G8 summit. While not necessarily a WMD issue, with over 300 chemical storage sites in the area alone, it is an excellent location for some serious problems should the Bad Guys decide to make that strong a statement.
Speaking of lessons learned, McGraw-Hill has opened a secure website for first responders at www.llis.gov. You must apply for access, but it is hoped that the website will become a useful and an excellent source of information sharing across boundaries.
According to the DHS, over the last two weeks, successful grantees have been receiving their portion of the $2.2 billion from the State Homeland Security Grant Program and $725 million from the Urban Area Security Initiative Program. Want to know who got what in your area? Download this PDF file: www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/Grants-ODP-04.pdf
In the same vein, $26 million was released recently by the FEMA for pre-disaster mitigation efforts through the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Competitive Grant Program. Bottom line? If your department doesn't have a grant writer, you are MISSING OUT.
From the ‘DUH!' Line, the Associated Press found through a poll that the American public now worry more about war and terrorism than they did last year, when the economy was the top issue. Hmm, really?
And, finally, in an attempt to testbed new gear, the Pentagon will be flying a blimp loaded with meterology and detection gear in an test to see how well they could detect a CWA attack. A generally nontoxic gas will be released from multiple points at different times and the results will be studied.
In closing, as the anniversaries of several incidents in the U.S. fall on this 19th (April 19 is the anniversary of the standoff and subsequent fire at Mt. Carmel Church near Waco, Texas; Also the anniversary of the murderous bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City) I'm compelled to remind you that just because it's been a while since the last major event, we still need to remain vigilant. Your continued vigilance is a major factor in our ongoing lack of major terrorist incidents here.