Exclusives
FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle+RSS Feed
Fire EMSEMS TodayEMS Insider

WMD Commission Says U.S. Fails to be prepared for a Biological Attack

bioterror

Discuss Your Level of Preparedness

EILEEN SULLIVAN

Associated Press Writer



WASHINGTON - The United States isn't prepared for a biological terrorist attack, a congressionally mandated panel said in a report released Tuesday.



The Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation gave the Obama administration a failing grade for its efforts to prepare for and respond to a biological attack, such as the release of deadly viruses or bacteria.



"Nearly a decade after Sept. 11, 2001 ... and one month after the Christmas Day bombing attempt, the United States is failing to address several urgent threats, especially bioterrorism," said former Sen. Bob Graham, chairman of the commission. "Each of the last three administrations has been slow to recognize and respond to the biothreat. But we no longer have the luxury of a slow learning curve, when we know al-Qaida is interested in bioweapons."



Retired Air Force Col. Randy Larsen, the commission's executive director, said the poor preparation for the swine flu epidemic in 2009 is proof that the country is not positioned to respond to something more serious. Larsen pointed to the early shortage of H1N1 vaccine despite a six-month warning from health officials that the disease would be potentially deadly.



No one in the Obama administration has taken the lead for protecting the country against bioterrorism, Larsen said.



"Especially troubling is the lack of priority given to the development of medical countermeasures - the vaccines and medicines that would be required to mitigate the consequences of an attack," the report said.



The report recommended five steps the government should take to deal with the threat of bioterrorism:



Conduct a comprehensive review of the domestic program to secure dangerous pathogens.



Develop a national strategy for advancing the ability to conduct forensic analyses of bioterror attacks.



Tighten government oversight of laboratories that deal with dangerous pathogens.



Promote a culture of security awareness among scientists.



Enhance the nation's rapid response plan to prevent biological attacks from inflicting mass casualties.



The commission was formed by Congress to evaluate the government's readiness for a terror attack involving weapons of mass destruction. Its report follows a study released Monday that warned that al-Qaida is still pursuing technology to conduct a biological, chemical or even nuclear attack against the United States.



That study, released by Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said al-Qaida's "top WMD priority has been to acquire nuclear and strategic biological weapons."



__



On the Net: Bioterrorism Report Card



RELATED ARTICLES

Delivering a Miracle

The Oregon River Safety Program, provided by American Medical Response as a service to communities it serves in Northwest Oregon, realized a decrease in drow...

EMS Physicians Can Help Close the Gap Between EMS & Other Public Health Agencies

Return EMS to our roots of a very close and mutually productive relationship between the EMS physician and the field care providers.

Be Productive with your Meeting Time and Agenda

Meeting just to "meet" destroys productivity in organizations.

Staff Systems with More EMTs and Fewer Paramedics

Less is more.

Reflections on the Impact of JEMS over the Past 35 Years

EMS leaders explain what JEMS means to them.

Understanding Why EMS Systems Fail

Learn to recognize trigger points that could ruin your system.

Features by Topic

JEMS Connect

CURRENT DISCUSSIONS

 
 

EMS BLOGS

Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

Featured Careers