Okay…so the people teaching our first responders how to deal with a biological attack nearly killed them all with a biological accident. Ricin is one of the most deadly substances in the world. A dose the size of a few grains of table salt can kill a healthy adult.
FEMA (says they) ordered a low-toxicity version of ricin for some advanced training. Unfortunately, they ended up with the real deal at full octane. It was clearly labeled as the real deal, but no one from FEMA seemed to notice.
Ricin is one of the most deadly substances in the world. A dose the size of a few grains of table salt can kill a healthy adult. (You can learn more about Ricin from the Department of Defense’s manual.)
Because of yet another mix-up with bioterror pathogens, a federal terrorism response training center in Alabama says it mistakenly exposed more than 9,600 firefighters, paramedics and other students to a deadly toxin over the past five years…
…The training center says it submitted order forms asking for a type of ricin extract that is unlikely to cause serious harm. But officials from Toxin Technology, the Florida company that sent nine shipments to the center since 2011, told USA TODAY that its ricin products were all accurately labeled as “RCA60” – a scientific name for the whole ricin toxin, which can be deadly.
It’s unclear why training center staff didn’t recognize for years that they were working with a far more dangerous substance…
…Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said he’s stunned that over the past five years the training center never verified that it was receiving the less-toxic ricin product it thought it was ordering. (source)
Just so you know, FEMA also does training with a less-toxic form of anthrax.
The big Kahuna of FEMA has asked DHS to investigate the little mix-up.
After issuing repeated statements to USA TODAY since Monday solely blaming the vendor, on Thursday FEMA administrator W. Craig Fugate called for the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General to investigate. The training center had already suspended all training with biological agents, which include training with a less-dangerous strain of anthrax.(source)
How confident are you now in FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness? Are these really the people you want to take care of people after a terror attack?
This is precisely why I advocate taking care of yourself, as opposed to trusting some ordinary person who has been empowered with a title to run the show.