Jan 152015
 

Bioterrorism is terrorism that involves the deliberate release of biological pathogens including bacteria, viruses, toxins or other harmful agents used to cause illness or death. After 9/11 and the mailing of anthrax-laced letters to our political leaders soon afterward, we developed the Biowatch Program to help detect airborne pathogens. Biowatch consists of more than 30 monitoring stations located in our largest cities that continually collect and filter air samples. It is said these filters are analyzed for pathogens once each day. However, Biowatch has been prone to false alarms and is not sensitive enough to detect small releases of pathogens. Depending on wind conditions, it is conceivable a bioterrorist attack could occur in one of these protected cities and not be detected by Biowatch. Pathogens released indoors or in subways would also likely go undetected. Researchers are currently developing more sophisticated detectors capable of analyzing air and water samples in real time but these devices are not yet ready for production. Until then, we must depend on the Biowatch system, which does not provide coverage to all places and for all people. Health experts say the initial symptoms of those exposed to most pathogens are often similar to symptoms of common ailments such as the flu. For this reason, health services may not be able to confirm the existence of a bioterror attack until many victims have been infected. Health advocates warn that our shortage of hospital beds and emergency room services will greatly impede our ability to respond to an attack or a disaster which results in mass casualties. Currently, even a heavy flu season considerably taxes these facilities.

Pending Legislations:

S.242 & H.R.307 – Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current bioterrorism policy and wish to defeat H.R.390 and S.242 & H.R.307

I support reauthorizing appropriations for public health preparedness activities and increasing the preparedness, response capabilities, and surge capacity of ambulatory care facilities, dental health facilities, trauma care and emergency medical systems, and strategic initiatives to advance countermeasures to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or treat harm from any biological agent or toxin or any chemical, radiological, or nuclear agent, and wish to pass S.242 & H.R.307

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

First responders are those who are usually the first to arrive at an emergency or accident scene. These include police, medical and fire department personnel. The offices which coordinate emergency management services, local health departments and public hospitals are also crucial elements of emergency preparation and response. The first responders in many of our rural areas are volunteers. Their departments usually receive some federal assistance for training and equipment but most funding is provided locally. First responders often transport accident victims to hospitals that are also locally owned and operated. Health advocates claim most rural communities barely have enough resources to provide adequate healthcare for the populations they serve. Most would be incapable of providing much assistance to victims of a large-scale disaster or terrorist attack. Advocates say that it is doubtful the additional resources needed by these communities will be provided by state governments, whose budgets are still overburdened by the economy. These advocates claim our federal government is the most effective entity to protect states from disasters and terrorism.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.1791 – Medical Preparedness Transition Act

S.506 & H.R.1009 – Volunteer Emergency Services Recruitment and Retention Act of 2013

S.501 – Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Reauthorization Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current first responder policy and wish to defeat H.R.1791, S.506 & H.R.1009 and S.501

I support funding for enhanced medical preparedness, medical surge capacity, including the development and maintenance of an initial pharmaceutical stockpile, including medical kits, and diagnostics sufficient to protect first responders, their families, and immediate victims from a chemical or biological event, and wish to pas H.R.1791

I support amending the Internal Revenue Code to allow sponsors of certain deferred compensation plans to elect to include length of service award plans for volunteers providing firefighting and fire prevention services, emergency medical services, ambulance services, and emergency rescue services and wish to pass S.506 & H.R.1009

I support amending the Internal Revenue Code, with respect to the tax exclusion for benefits paid to volunteer firefighters and emergency medical providers by states and local governments, to increase the amount of benefits excludible and make such tax exclusion available for taxable years beginning in 2014, 2015, or 2016, and wish to pass S.501

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

There are more than 160,000 public water systems which provide safe and clean water to 317 million Americans. Disruption of these systems would likely bring the affected areas to a standstill, causing severe risks to health and safety as well as significant economic loss. For this reason, our federal government provides some protection for these facilities. Since 9/11, the EPA has been developing new security technologies to detect and monitor water contaminants. Law enforcement has been working on preventing security breaches at the reservoirs and watersheds which supply our water systems. Security advocates say that if contaminants can be detected early enough, they can be prevented from reaching consumers. If not, our water treatment plants must be able to quickly communicate warnings to their customers. Besides intentional releases, our water supplies can also be contaminated by naturally occurring chemicals and minerals such as radon, uranium and arsenic. Contamination from urban, factory and farm pollution are threats as well. However, advocates are most worried that our water systems may be vulnerable to sabotage. A while ago, the FBI arrested a Tunisian man who had plans to derail a Canadian train, and also had plans to kill 100,000 Americans by poisoning our air or water. Around the same time, Boston police arrested 5 men from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Singapore who were discovered trespassing one night at Quabbin Reservoir, the main source of water for Massachusetts. These men had recently graduated with degrees in chemical engineering but were released after police found no wrongdoing except trespassing. Although these incidents did not pose an imminent threat, they may indicate that those who wish us harm are aware of the vulnerability of our water systems.

Pending Legislation:

S.67 – Secure Water Facilities Act

I oppose reforming current bioterrorism preparedness and wish to defeat S.67

I support establishing increasingly stringent, risk-based performance standards for the security of most water systems; requiring deadlines for systems to conduct and update assessments, develop and revise security plans and emergency response plans, and provide training to system and contractor employees; designating any chemical substance as a substance of concern and establishing the threshold quantity for the release or theft of each such substance; providing baseline information to water systems regarding the types of intentional acts that constitute probable threats; directing systems that possess substances of concern in excess of the release threshold quantity to include in their site security plans assessments of methods to reduce the consequences of chemical releases from intentional acts; providing grants to assist states and systems in complying with this Act and to provide for security-related training of water system employees and training for emergency response providers; authorizing appropriations for 2013-2017, and wish to pass S.67

 Posted by at 12:00 am