1998 Congressional Hearings
Special Weapons
Nuclear, Chemical, Biological and Missile


 


Testimony of Indianapolis Fire Chief Keith Smith

I am here today, to present to you the views of the Indianapolis fire department regarding the effectiveness of the "domestic emergency preparedness training "; our members received in February of this year.

I will speak to the effectiveness of that training in a moment.

Our department has taken the terrorism-n threat seriously.  We feel that there are probably groups, both domestic and foreign, that I-nay have ill intentions.

These groups will be seeking targets which they feel can be attacked successfully.

It is because of this that a large commitment to this training was undertaken by IFD.   Our commitment is illustrated by the fact that Indianapolis trained more people than any other city except New York City.

The training we received strengthened our view that this could be a serious problem.

This was particularly brought home by the fact that during the tabletop exercise it was stated that, in addition to the civilian dead, the Indianapolis' is fire department could have suffered 16 dead and many more personnel incapacitated.

We believe those members, and recognize the tremendous impact that an attack of this kind could have on the community and our department.

It is our belief that failure to prepare would be a serious breach of the trust we have been given by tile citizens of our community.

Our plans for the future include training of tile entire fire force to the awareness and operations level.

In addition to that training, all paramedics will receive the EMS portion of the training, all HAZMAT specialists will receive the HAZMAT portion and all chief officers will receive the incident command portion.

Following the training of the entire force we will be conducting a practical exercise designed to evaluate the effectiveness of our training.

This exercise will be conducted under direction of tile federal contractor.

After the exercise is evaluated we will look at tile results and make adjustments to our response as necessary.

We feel that the danger of becoming a target is lessened if it is known that this city is prepared.

Our department will cooperate fully with training any other fire, police and EMS entities within Marion County that wish to receive training.

All but one of the fire departments in the county had at least one person who took every course.

In addition to the fire departments represented, all EMS providers and hospitals in the county had representation at the training.

This also applies to agencies outside the fire and EMS disciplines, such as Marion County emergency management, state emergency management, local FBI personnel, local police, sheriff, national guard and several other agencies who would be involved in a weapons of mass destruction incident.

We realize that an attack of this nature is likely to immediately overtax the Indianapolis fire department's ability to respond effectively immediately.

We have mutual aid agreements which will allow other fire and EMS agencies to respond quickly, but these responders will need to be trained prior to an event taking place.

Regarding the training we received:

The contractor did an appropriate job of organizing and presenting the training.  All of the instructors were knowledgeable in their respective fields.  The course materials were organized and we have made some suggestions to the contractor on how to improve tile courses and course manuals.  We received master copies of the material to duplicate for use in training the rest of our force.

I would like to make this final commitment regarding the training.

The Sarin gas attack oil the Tokyo subway resulted in approximately 5,000 people presented to emergency rooms.

Of those 5,000 over 85% were psychological victims, only 12 people died in the attack.

We were taught that these "weapons of mass destruction" events are serious problems, but they are not automatic death sentences.

With proper training, these events can be handled effectively.