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D Scientific and Technical Information Needs of Emergency First Responders Summary of a presentation by Frances Edwards-Winslow, PhD., CAM, City of San Jose, Office of Emergency Services For the emergency response community, the adage "It's better to do something than nothing," is not always true, since the wrong response can be very costly and dangerous. Scientific and technical information is critical for helping first responders make sound decisions with regards to intelligence, warning, defense, and response to critical threats. Depending upon the type of event, the first-responder community may include any of the following audiences: emergency management officials public health officials, police, fire, and emergency medical services field personnel hospitals, and non-governmental organizations that provide care and shelter for affected populations. Scientific information plays a role in numerous decisions made by first responders in the minutes to hours following an event, including the following: population safety evacuating versus sheltering in place; providing timely warnings to downwind populations; determining what kinds of public safety personnel need to be deployed in the community and what kind of personal protective equipment is required for first responders; hospitals determining what personal protective equipment is needed for hospital staff; what symptoms to look for and decontamination or treatment modalities to prepare for; transit routes to halt service; routes and stations needing decontamination before . service resumption; . built environment actions necessary to protect storm drains, sanitary sewers, building basements,and so forth; and environmental concerns assessing possible impacts on waterways, zoos, parks, home gardens (e.g., safety of produce). In the case of an atmospheric release of a hazardous agent, the specific types of information needed by first responders may include: 78

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APPENDIX D 79 size, time, and location of release; characterization of plume movement and elevation; location of"hot" zones within the plume; effect of topography, vegetation, buildings, and so forth, on agent dispersion and deposition; medical information exposure risk (LD50, TLV)i 2 interaction with other diseases (asthma, emphysema); and ; symptoms and treatment; veterinary medicine possible impacts on pets, wild population, and disease vectors. There are a wide variety of events for which atmospheric modeling and observations can provide vital information to emergency responders, including: terrorism airborne release of nuclear, radiological, chemical, and biological agents; smoke from forest, and wildland fires; and industrial accidents and release of hazardous chemicals (e.g., Bhopal). ~ LD stands for lethal dose. LD50 is the amount of a material that causes the death of 50 percent of a group of test animals. The LD50 is one way to measure the short-term poisoning potential (acute toxicity) of a material. 2 TLV stands for threshold limit value, which is the amount of exposure (for an eight-hour day, for fives days a week) without harmful effects.