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CBRN and Hazmat Incidents at Major Public Events: Planning and Response by Dan Kaszeta

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SCENARIO F

An Anthrax Letter

BACKGROUND

Anthrax hoax letters started appearing in the late 1990s. One of the first was in Washington, D.C., in April 1997. Numerous incidents, all hoaxes, continued to vex authorities until the fall of 2001 when several actual anthrax-laced letters caused several deaths, many illnesses, and countless man-hours of emergency responders' time. Over 99 percent of the time, an “anthrax letter” turns out to be a hoax. However, 2001 proved that sometimes people can sometimes get sick and die from anthrax in powder form in a letter.

It is important to remember that while anthrax seems to be the primary concern in this field, it is possible that other materials could be used as well. Anthrax is the most durable of the primary biological-warfare agents, but other materials could theoretically appear in a letter. (“Q-Fever” is one possibility, as it was put into spore form in the past.)

THE SCENARIO

A political-party convention is being held in your city in a large convention center. Thousands of delegates are housed in dozens of hotels throughout the city. You are responsible for responding to CBRN and HAZMAT incidents during this convention.

A hotel suite in one of the convention hotels is being used as an office by one of the larger delegations. A letter is delivered by normal postal-service mail to the hotel in question, addressed to the delegation chief by name. The hotel staff gives the letter to the delegation chief's assistant, who opens it in the office. ...

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