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What first response actions should be taken?

Anthrax CollageThis page describes activities during the initial or emergency phase (generally the first 24-48 hours) of a response to a suspected incident involving anthrax. It is intended for personnel who discover the potential contamination and for first responders on the scene. 

Notification and Initial Actions
As soon as a initial anthrax contamination is confirmed:
  • Call 9-1-1 for local police assistance and the local Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
    Federal agencies located in buildings managed by GSA should contact the Federal Protective Service.

  • Notify the National Response Center (NRC) at (800)424-8802. The NRC will notify appropriate agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), FBI, United Stated Coast Guard (USCG), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to arrange needed assistance.

  • Contact the owner or operator of the facility.

  • Direct occupants of the facility to report to a designated meeting place, as identified in the local facility response plan.
Immediately dial 9-1-1 if you have a confirmed anthrax attack.
Immediately dial 9-1-1 if you have a confirmed anthrax attack.

Lead Agencies and Incident Command System/Unified Command
Command PostThe lead agencies responding to a suspected incident will coordinate their efforts under a Unified Command (UC) within an Incident Command System (ICS) to ensure their actions and resources are integrated into a single, effective response.  The UC for anthrax response will usually include:
  • FBI

  • Federal On-scene Coordinator (such as the EPA, USCG)

  • State On-scene Coordinator and/or local Incident Commander(s) (such as the local police, fire department, or public health official)

  • Facility manager or property owner

Preliminary Assessment to Determine Credible Threat
Response WorkersInitial efforts should be made to assess the situation and determine whether the incident poses a credible threat.  The assessment may begin with a conference call with the reporting party and involved agencies, such as the FBI, EPA, USCG, CDC, and appropriate local health and law enforcement authorities. If the report appears to be credible, the FBI and other responding agencies will coordinate a site assessment to confirm the threat.

Site Assessment to Verify Contamination
The objectives of the Site Assessment sampling may include any of the following:
  • Determine qualitatively whether any spores are present.  Typically, composite samples of large areas and air volumes are obtained to maximize the likelihood of finding contamination.

  • Identification of Spores in a Bulk Material (such as powder in an envelope) On-site analysis may be used for preliminary assessment to determine qualitatively if a bulk material is contaminated with anthrax.

  • Determination of Contamination of an Article Composite surface samples of large articles and individual samples of small articles are collected to determine whether the article's surface is contaminated.
Vacuums such as this are used to sample large volumes of air.
Vacuums such as this are used to
sample large volumes of air.

Identification of Potentially Exposed Personnel
As quickly as possible, facility managers and first responders should identify personnel who might have been exposed, including:
  • People in the area where the spores were released,

  • People who may have handled contaminated items or packages, and

  • Response personnel.
Potential sources of data include:
  • Employee timecards,

  • Visitor logs, and

  • Security videotapes.

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