Fire Department Response to Biological Threat at B'nai B'rith Headquarters Washington, D.C. [open pdf - 1017KB]
"Fire Department Response to Biological Threat at B'nai B'rith Headquarters," is a technical report of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and United States Fire Administration. "On April 24, 1997, the District of Columbia Fire/EMS Department (DCFEMS) responded to the Washington, D.C. offices of B'nai B'rith, an international Jewish organization, for a suspicious package. The package had been mailed to B'nai B'rith and contained a Petri dish labeled with wording which led local emergency responders to suspect the package might contain Anthrax and Yersinia, both disease-causing bacteria that have been used as biological weapons.Several occupants of the building complained of dizziness and headaches, additional factors that indicated the possible presence of a chemical agent as well. The DCFEMS established a perimeter around the site where the package was located, attempted to protect occupants of the B'nai B'rith building by isolating them in place, established a command post, and set up hazardous material decontamination procedures. After consultation with numerous national agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Biosafety Branch, responders engaged in hazmat operations to secure the package and its contents, which were then sent to a federal laboratory in Bethesda, Maryland. During the operation, DCFEMS decontaminated approximately 30 people for exposure, including civilians, police officers, and fire-rescue personnel. One security guard suffered chest pains during the incident and was transported to a local hospital for a heart attack following decontamination. Though the threat was a hoax, the incident revealed many lessons for the fire service to share in preparation for any future threats."
Report no. 114
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