‘First Responders’ Lack Adequate Funds, Equipment To Address Bioterrorist Attacks, Report Finds
Ambulance, fire, police and public health departments nationwide are "dramatically underfunded" and not adequately prepared to address a terrorist attack, according to a report released today by the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan research group, the Washington Post reports. The 62-page report, prepared by the CFR Independent Task Force on Emergency Responders, cited biological, chemical and nuclear weapons as the most significant threats, and found that that "first responders" lack the protective equipment and instruction required to address a biological or radiological attack, the Post reports. The 20-member task force, headed by former Sen. Warren Rudman (R-N.H.) and Richard Clarke, a former counterterrorism adviser to President Bush, said that the lack of federal standards for protective equipment and instruction for first responders represents a "big snag" in preparedness, the Post reports (Mintz, Washington Post, 6/29). In addition, the report recommends that the federal government spend an additional $98 billion over the next five years to improve the preparedness of first responders; the federal government plans to spend about $27 billion. Gordon Johndroe, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security, said that the department has implemented or plans to implement many of the recommendations in the report. However, he called the recommendation for additional expenditures "grossly inflated" (Kerr, AP/Long Island Newsday, 6/30). The report, titled "Emergency Responders: Drastically Underfunded, Dangerously Unprepared," is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report.
Several broadcast programs reported on the CFR report:
- NBC's "Nightly News": The segment includes comments from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R), Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), Johndroe and Rudman (Johns, "Nightly News," NBC, 6/27). The full segment is available online in Windows Media.
- NBC's "Meet the Press": The program interviews Jamie Metzl, project director of the CFR Independent Task Force on Emergency Responders, and Rudman about the report (Russert, "Meet the Press," NBC, 6/29). The full transcript of the program is available online.
- NPR's "All Things Considered": The segment interviews Clarke (Inskeep, "All Things Considered," NPR, 6/29). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.