THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESIDENT CLINTON UNVEILS NEW EFFORTS TO COMBAT TERRORISM IN AN ADDRESS TO THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS March 15, 1999
Today, in his address to the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), President Clinton will announce new steps to provide fire fighters and other first responders with the tools they need to defend against terrorist attacks using chemical and biological weapons. These steps, which build on the President's long-standing record and prior budget proposals, include: investing an additional $11 million this year in rapid medical response teams trained to respond to a biological or chemical weapons emergency; awarding $21 million in grants to help communities train fire fighters and other first responders to respond to bioterrorist attacks; and providing $73.5 million to communities to purchase protective and communications equipment for emergency response personnel, policemen, and fire fighters.
STRONG NEW EFFORTS TO HELP EMERGENCY RESPONSE PERSONNEL COMBAT CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL TERRORISM
America's unrivaled military preparedness means that potential enemies are more likely to resort to terror than to conventional military assault. In addition, new technologies are increasing the ability of terrorists to plan and execute chemical and biological attacks against our cities and citizens. In response, the President will announce new steps and will highlight continuing efforts to combat the threat of a chemical or biological terrorist attack, including:
Investing an additional $11 million in Metropolitan Medical Response Systems in FY 1999. The Department of Health and Human Services plans to invest an additional $11 million in FY 1999 in new rapid medical response teams trained to respond to a biological or chemical weapons emergency. The Metropolitan Medical Response Systems enhance local emergency response systems by removing victims, administering antidotes, decontaminating affected areas, and providing emergency medical transportation, primary care, hospital based medical care and crisis counseling. This new funding increases the previously planned FY 1999 funding level by almost 400 percent, supporting the development of rapid medical response teams in an additional 12 cities. Today's action takes a significant step towards the Administration's goal of establishing these teams in all of the nation's most densely populated metropolitan areas.
Providing funds to train emergency personnel to respond to chemical and biological attacks. The Department of Justice will award this month the first funds from a $21 million initiative to combat weapons of mass destruction by helping states and local communities train local first responders (including fire fighters) about responding to bioterrorist and other terrorist attacks. Some of these funds also will enable local communities to expand awareness of the threat of chemical and biological attacks.
Giving funds to communities to purchase new equipment for emergency response personnel handling a chemical or biological terrorist attack. The Department of Justice will make available in April $73.5 million in grants to states and municipalities to procure equipment to detect chemical or biological agents and protect emergency response personnel and other first responders in the event of a terrorist attack.
BUILDING ON A STRONG COMMITMENT TO PREPARING FOR CHEMICAL OR BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS ATTACKS
Providing leadership from the top. President Clinton signed Presidential Decision Directive 62, in May to define the Administration's policies on preparedness against weapons of mass destruction and other unconventional threats. At that time, he also designated the first National Coordinator to bring together the Federal government's various programs on unconventional threats. The President soon afterward asked for and received a special budget amendment to increase funding for programs to combat biological terrorism. In January, the President announced that his budget calls for over $10 billion in counterterrorism and related programs, including about $1.4 billion for programs to defend weapons of mass destruction.
Safeguarding our citizens from the threat of deadly weapons. The President's FY 2000 budget makes a significant investment in new programs to combat unconventional threats. The $1.4 billion dedicated to preparedness against weapons of mass destruction includes significant increases in funding to research and develop new vaccines and other therapeutics, a network of regional labs to provide rapid analysis of select biological agents, and to make other improvements in the public health surveillance system.
Training Fire Fighters and other first responders in 52 cities. The Department of Defense has trained over 15,000 fire fighters and other first responders in 52 cities to respond to bioterrorist and chemical weapons attacks. The Pentagon also expects to train first responders in 16 more cities before the end of FY 1999. In addition, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will spend $12 million to help States conduct training exercises and other activities to improve the ability of fire departments and other agencies providing emergency services to respond to a terrorist attack.
Soliciting input from stakeholders and working with communities to improve domestic preparedness. In August 1998, the Attorney General met with fire fighters, emergency rescue experts, emergency medical services personnel, public health providers, law enforcement, and local emergency managers, who urged the Administration to establish a "one stop shopping" network to improve domestic preparedness for terrorist attacks. In response to their concerns, the Administration announced plans for the National Domestic Preparedness Office in October 1998, which coordinates Federal, state, and local activities to ensure the effective use of resources.