Real-World Anthrax Scare Proves Readiness
January 28, 2010
By Kris Osborn
- JPMG is a subordinate office to the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense (JPEO-CBD)
- JPMG leads the Installation Protection Program, Force Protection, Joint Operations Support CBRNE and Consequence Management Product Managers
- The Joint Project Managers of the JPEO-CBD are at the forefront in developing effective processes through dual-purpose technologies
- JPEO-CBD equipment includes protective suits, forensic analysis materials and a biological detection device called a Hand Held Assay (HHA)
The Joint Project Manager Guardian (JPMG) Chemical, Biological, Radiological Nuclear Installation Protection Program (CBRN-IPP), aimed at preparing U.S Military Installation First Responders to respond to chemical and biological threats, was put to the test during a Jan. 6 incident at Naval Air Station (NAS) Fallon/Hawthorne Army Depot, Nevada, when an employee discovered a white, silt-like substance in an envelope, Pentagon and Army officials said.
The JPMG, a subordinate office to the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense (JPEO-CBD), leads the Installation Protection Program, Force Protection, Joint Operations Support CBRNE and Consequence Management Product Managers, who work daily to address these types of threats.
"In this case, Explosive Ordnance Detachment Mobile Unit 11[EODMU 11] responded to a call for an anthrax scare," said Preston Smith, JPMG IPP installation lead for NAS Fallon.
The EOD team was on the scene within 90-minutes with protective suits and chemical, biological and radiological detection equipment engineered to test samples of the substance, said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Todd Kustra, Product Manager, CBRN-IPP.
The equipment, acquired through and provided by the Pentagon's JPEO-CBD, included protective suits, forensic analysis materials and a biological detection device called a Hand Held Assay (HHA).
"It [HHA] is a direct sample system that tests for the presence of eight biological agents. After the EOD team documented the evidence collected, it was shared with the FBI," said Kustra. The results provided by the HHA are considered to be presumptive; the FBI's job is to send them to a laboratory for more confirmatory results.
The EOD team also used a Forensic Analytical Center (FAC) sampling kit to collect and transport the materials in question.
"You have a chain of custody. This kit [the FAC] helps secure the sample and seal it for transport to the next location in the chain of custody," said Kustra.
Although initial findings determined the substance was not a threat, the real-world incident provided an occasion to measure the effectiveness of IPP training and equipment.
"Speaking with the team at Fallon, they appreciated the training and equipment we turned over. They were satisfied. They were ready to respond. All the personnel responded accordingly," said Smith.
The employee who discovered the substance and one co-worker were quarantined and given medical attention.
Beginning in 2004 and aimed at bringing chemical and biological detection training and equipment to 180 installations worldwide by 2015, the IPP is geared toward preparing U.S. Military Installation First Responders to respond to unconventional threats deemed more likely in a post-9/11 environment, Kustra said.
"The training is a well coordinated series of events starting with equipment delivery. Once the equipment is delivered, we train the users how to properly operate it. Once everyone is up to speed, we go through a New Equipment Training Seminar (NET-S), Functional Exercise (FE) and then a Full-Scale Exercise (FSE)," said Kustra.
Military leaders were pleased with the state of readiness at the installation.
"This reflects our dedication to providing Warfighters the best possible equipment to remain fully prepared to engage any threat at any time anywhere in the world," said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jess A. Scarbrough, the Joint Program Executive Officer for Chemical and Biological Defense.
"The Joint Project Managers of the JPEO-CBD are at the forefront in developing effective processes through dual-purpose technologies that will continue to help us identify and correctly respond to the threats we may face."