LLIS Lesson Learned: Biological Terrorism: Direct Contact with Persons Sheltered-in-Place   [open pdf - 53KB]

From the Summary: "During a suspected biological terrorist incident, incident command (IC) should consider establishing direct communications via telephone, walkie-talkie, or some other device with persons sheltered-in-place. Communications should always remain open so that IC can channel information through a single source, thus eliminating the spread of conflicting information or instructions to sheltered persons." From the Description: "On April 24, 1997, a suspicious package was discovered in the Washington, DC offices of B'nai B'rith, an international Jewish organization. It contained a Petri dish labeled 'Anthracis Yersinia,' an incorrect combination of two different biological agents. The District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department (DCFEMS) responded to the scene and decided to shelter-in-place B'nai B'rith building occupants as a precautionary measure. The IC established direct phone communications with those inside the building to relay information and instructions. However, the line was not kept open during the entire nine-hour incident response. As a result, IC was unaware that other local officials were contacting building occupants and issuing conflicting instructions. Officials from the DC Health Department, acting on advice from their own national technical experts, told building occupants to leave the building, contrary to the IC's instructions."

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