Statement of Ted Jarboe, Deputy Chief,
Department of Fire and Rescue Services,
Montgomery County, Maryland
before the Military Research and Development Subcommittee
of the House Committee on National Security
United States House of Representatives
"Federal Response to Domestic Terrorism
Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction"
March 21, 1998
Good afternoon. My name is Ted Jarboe. I am a Deputy Chief with the Department of Fire and Rescue Services, Montgomery County, Maryland. As a matter of reference, part of Montgomery County borders the District of Columbia and is the most populace of Maryland's 23 counties. For the past nearly two years, our county has been working to improve the response capabilities of our first responders, that is, fire, rescue, EMS, and law enforcement personnel. As a first responder, I know firsthand the importance of and need to substantially enhance our capabilities to manage the life-threatening consequences of a terrorist incident involving weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Through the dedication and commitment of our first responders and those throughout the United States, I believe we can save lives, without becoming casualties.
While I am here to speak for Montgomery County's first responders, I do believe that most, if not all, of my comments and concerns will have direct relevance to our nation's fire service. After all, the first responders are the first line of defense against an act of terrorism which results in casualties. These emergency responders will likely work alone at the scene for at least several hours before needed specialized state and federal assets arrive.
During my testimony I will address what I perceive to be the seven elements of the first responder's domestic preparedness equation. They are awareness, training, equipment, resources, planning, exercises, and research. My comments on these seven elements are likely to be similar to comments of other fire, rescue, and EMS departments, no matter their size, composition or the population they serve.
First responders need a quick reference which will provide them with essential information about NBC agents, including how to protect themselves against exposure to them. An awareness brochure could be easily prepared and distributed to emergency responders across the country. Of course funding is needed to make this awareness initiative happen. This action would buy time while other important initiatives are being developed.
As you know, the United States Army's Chemical and Biological Defense Command (CBDCOM), under the leadership of Major General Friel, has developed and is delivering domestic preparedness training nationally to emergency responders in 120 cities as mandated by the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici Legislation.
The Domestic Preparedness Program is sensitive to the emergency responders' community efforts in carrying out their mission. These programs were developed and are being executed as a partnership among six federal agencies (DOD, DOE, FBI, FEMA, PHS, and EPA) and the emergency response community.
To date, 18 cities have received this Train-the-Trainer program. This program has training modules which address awareness, operations, hazardous materials technician, incident command, pre-hospital care providers, and hospital care providers. These modules were prepared and are being delivered by a multi-disciplined group of professionals. These professionals are from fire, rescue, EMS, and local law enforcement organizations, CBDCOM, the FBI, and DOE. Just recently, members of the National Guard were validated to join the instructors' cadre. Some of them are also members of first responder organizations.
I serve as an instructor in this program. Back in April 1997, a representative of CBDCOM asked that I help with the development of the incident command component. The foundation of the incident command course was the course that District Chief Bob Stephan and I had developed for and delivered to command officers in Montgomery County. I consider myself fortunate to be part of this national initiative.
As the Train-the-Trainer program was delivered, beginning with Philadelphia, many positive comments were made by the target audience. Constructive criticism have been welcomed and necessary changes to enhance the program were incorporated into the Train-the-Trainer program. This is a strong testimony to CBDCOM's commitment to transfer military NBC expertise to the responder community.
I view this Train-the-Trainer program as a "shot-in-the-arm" for first responders. It is a "kick-start" program to get them focused on domestic preparedness in their respective communities. It is not the final answer or end to domestic preparedness training. It is a good beginning. The Train-the-Trainer program is right on target. It has the right mix of NBC experts, and specialists from the first responders' community. The training and exercise program builds an integrated response over all first responders, fire, rescue, EMS, law enforcement personnel and health care providers. It delivers the information needed to keep first responders safe, while still maximizing their effectiveness.
Tailoring information from the Train-the-Trainer program to meet their communities' need is necessary for these cities. I believe that it is imperative that these jurisdictions commit to train all of their emergency responders.
In addition, there is a clear need to provide sustainment and total training which goes beyond the training of the 120 cities. We must identify ways to deliver domestic preparedness training to all fire, rescue, and EMS personnel. They could modify the Train-the-Trainer program based on local needs. This program could be delivered in a one or two-weekend format for volunteer members of the fire service.
First responders must have the equipment to detect and monitor the presence of chemical, biological, and radiological material. Having rapid detection capability and availability of appropriate pharmaceuticals are paramount to a WMD incident. In many scenarios, these remain the critical issues in saving victims and protecting first responders.
The first responders need equipment to help monitor patients following decontamination to ensure they are "clean" before transport to a hospital. With the potential for large numbers of casualties, victim transport must not be delayed until special state and federal resources arrive.
The vast majority of law enforcement agencies do not have respiratory protection against chemical and biological agents. Law enforcement officers are first responders. This lack of equipment will compromise their ability to perform activities such as downwind evacuation, crowd control, protection of fire and EMS personnel and collection of evidence. Unprotected law enforcement officers would likely become casualties themselves.
Because of the super toxic inhalation hazards of chemical and biological agents, the use of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) by first responders is absolutely essential. Funding must be allocated to ensure that SCBA or other appropriate respiratory protection is available to all first responders.
Hazmat teams need detection equipment to detect the presence of chemical/biological agents and to monitor post-decontaminated victims. Identifying the chemical or biological agent released is the primary mission of Montgomery County's Hazardous Incident Response Team (HIRT). I believe this is an effective use of hazmat teams in response to CB incidents.
If federal funding is not available to purchase this equipment for hazmat teams, then emergency responders should have the opportunity to purchase the needed equipment at military cost or receive federal subsidy. Why can't local governments purchase equipment at GSA contract prices? I must reiterate here that the first responders will be the first on the scene of a WMD incident. They need this equipment quickly to help them identify just what NBC agent is (are) involved in the incident.
Another concern is the difficulty in finding vendors from which to purchase needed NBC equipment. Developing a list of vendors and making it available to first responders across the country is sorely needed. Absent such a list, first responder organizations must duplicate each others search efforts.
I openly acknowledge the capabilities of the many federal assets which are available to respond to acts of terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction. Their expertise and equipment cache are specialized and extensive. However, the effectiveness of these valuable resources to on-scene first responders depends on their rapid response capability.
I believe that in order for these resources to help first responders manage the challenges and consequences of a terrorist event involving mass casualties, they must have a significant on-scene presence, preferably within 60 minutes, but no more than 90 minutes. A few people with expertise and detection equipment within this crucial 90-minute window will do much more for the first responders than many people with similar expertise and equipment arriving hours later. To state it another way, if lives are to be saved I believe that getting a few specialized resources on the scene relatively quickly is far more effective than many resources from the same response group hours later. Developing "ultra rapid" response teams with a target 90-minute arrival time, is a challenge that I send to the federal response assets from the first responders. I believe the National Guard, for one, is already reviewing their capabilities to meet this challenge.
For example, the newly-formed MMST in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area has a target response time for the region of approximately 90 minutes. However, other forming MMSTs across the country may have shorter or longer response times based on their locale and composition.
Congress should explore the feasibility of funding the development of "model" domestic preparedness plans for selected fire service communities such as career, volunteer, and combination emergency services.
Joint planning groups should include representatives at the local, state and federal levels. First responders must be part of any decision-making group that is meeting to determine the role and duties of first responders. This is the right thing to do.
Each jurisdiction needs to test their terrorist disaster plan by staging realistic exercises. These exercises will serve as the "yardstick" for testing, measuring, and validating the level of readiness of the plan.
The last element of the first responder's domestic preparedness equation is research. Like the other elements, this is extremely important and necessary to help improve the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of first responders who might have to respond to acts of terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction.
CBDCOM's Improved Response Program is working to improve the response capabilities of emergency responders. The program participants include members of emergency responder groups who are representatives of local, state, and federal agencies. The group is divided into four subgroups, law enforcement, emergency responders, emergency management, and health and safety.
The Improved Response Program looks at ways first responders can use their existing equipment to manage special challenges attendant to a terrorist incident. Using this approach, the group can keep the cost of implementation of new concepts, procedures, and equipment low and manageable.
Recently, the Edgewood Research Development and Engineering center at CBDCOM , in Edgewood, Maryland, completed phase one of a three-phase test program to evaluate the protection afforded by a firefighter's conventional protective clothing against vapor and aerosol challenge of a chemical warfare agent simulant.
Phase two of this program commenced this past Tuesday at the Research Triangle Institute in Durham, North Carolina. Phase three of these tests will be held in Kingston, Ontario at the Royal Military College.
The results of these tests will be extremely important to all first responders throughout the United States, and perhaps beyond. It is extremely important for me to note the main purpose of these tests from a first responder's perspective. It is important to determine if firefighters who are properly wearing protective clothing and using positive pressure, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), could enter a confined space for just a few minutes to rescue ambulatory casualties, resulting from exposure to a chemical warfare agent. This is an extreme emergency situation which requires intelligent and timely decision-making by the incident commander. Without the results and analyses of these protective clothing tests, the incident commander has no quantifiable information to base a decision as to whether to attempt rescue or abandon efforts to save lives.
Another project underway focuses on determining ways to effectively decontaminate mass casualties exposed to chemical, biological or radiological materials. From a first responder's perspective, the answer lies with the use of equipment immediately available to first responders.
A proposed project involves the use of portable fans carried on fire response vehicles which are commonly used to remove smoke, heat and hot gases from a building that is on fire. These fans may have distinct application at the scene of a chemical release in an occupied structure. One proposed area of attention is determining what affect induced airflow has in reducing chemical agent concentrations within a building and especially near the entrance.
All of the above projects are part of the Improved Response Program. As you can see there are many elements needed in the first responder domestic preparedness equation. The closer we get to addressing these elements, the closer we will be to having an effective response capability against acts of terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction.
In closing, I want to thank the Committee members for allowing me this very special and important opportunity to share my thoughts, concerns, and recommendations with you. Please remember that our nation's first responders will always be counted on to be the first to respond to disasters. Therefore, they must be the first to receive funding for training and equipment. The nation's first responders are truly the first lines of defense against terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction.
Ted Jarboe is a deputy chief with the Department of Fire and Rescue Services, Montgomery County, Maryland. In October 1995, Chief Jarboe became the bureau chief in charge of the Bureau of Operations.
For the past nearly two years Chief Jarboe has been working to improve the response capability of the county's approximately 1500 career and volunteer personnel against the potential threat of terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction.
He is a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) and a member of the County's Emergency Management Group (EMG). He is a member of International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) where he is a member of the Terrorism Task Force. He is also an instructor for the U.S. Army Chemical Biological Defense Command's Domestic Preparedness Train-the-Trainer Program. Chief Jarboe is also a member of CBDCOM's Improved Response Program.
Chief Jarboe has been an officer of the County's Hazardous Incident Response Team (HIRT) since its organization in 1981. He is also a member of the County's Collapse Rescue Team and FEMA's Maryland Urban Search and Rescue Task Force.
Since July 1995, Chief Jarboe has attended and participated in many meetings, conferences, and training programs related to the subject of nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare agents and domestic preparedness. In October 1996, he attended the four-day course Chemical/Biological Countermeasures Course conducted at the U.S. Army Chemical School, Fort McClellan, Alabama.
As part of the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer Program, Chief Jarboe wrote an applied research paper titled APlanning in Montgomery County to Manage the Consequences of Terrorism Involving Chemical Warfare Agents.
He is an adjunct professor at Montgomery College, Rockville, Maryland, where he just completed 20 years. Chief Jarboe has a Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Protection Engineering from the University of Maryland. He is completing his thesis for a Master of Science degree also in Fire Protection Engineering. He is a member of the Salamanders Fire Protection Engineering Honorary Society.