-- Protecting the Homeland --
Senator Murray Announces $800,000 to Help Spokane and Seattle Respond to Terrorist Attacks

Sep 30 2004

Funds will buy disaster equipment, training and technology to prepare for and respond to nuclear, biological and chemical incidents

Bush Administration Tries to Kill Program that Protects Washington Residents

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray today announced that the Seattle Fire Department and the Spokane City/County Department of Emergency Management will each receive $400,000 in federal grants to better prepare for terrorist attacks and other incidents that could cause large numbers of casualties.

The funding will be used to buy everything from antidotes and decontamination tents to new mapping and notification systems and training for first responders and residents.

"Our first responders and local emergency officials are working hard to protect all of us, and these dollars will help them become even more effective," Senator Murray said. "It's disappointing that the Bush Administration is trying to kill this successful effort, but I'll keep fighting for the resources we need to keep our state safe."

The funds will help communities prepare for all types of "mass casualty incidents" from terrorist attacks to natural disasters, outbreaks of epidemic diseases, and hazardous materials accidents. The two Washington agencies won the competitive grants from the Department of Homeland Security through the Metropolitan Medial Response System (MMRS), a program the Bush Administration is trying to eliminate.

Seattle and Spokane were among the nation's first cities designated to receive this special funding under the MMRS program, which Murray voted to create in July 1996.

Bush Seeks To Eliminate Program

President Bush's budget for fiscal year 2005 proposes eliminating the grant program in the budget year that starts October 1st. Senator Murray is working to save the program as a member of the

Senate's Homeland Security Appropriations Committee and as one of the Members (conferees) selected to resolve differences between the House and Senate homeland security funding bills.

Murray believes the program provides critical support to local communities, and FEMA documents bear that out. According to one FEMA report, the program the President wants to eliminate is "the only Federal Government Program that directly supports enhancement of existing local first responder, medical, public health and emergency management by increasing systematic, integrated capabilities to manage a WMD mass casualty incident." [emphasis added; source: ]

SEATTLE - $400,000

Seattle became one of the first cities in the nation to get special funding to prepare for mass casualty incidents. The additional $400,000 announced today will expand the Seattle Fire Department's response capabilities.

"It's been two years since we've received any grant support so this is really welcome in our ability to sustain the program and increase its scope," said AD Vickery, Assistant Chief of the Seattle Fire Department.

The Seattle Fire Department will use the funding as follows:

  • $180,000 for equipment (including decontamination equipment and protective equipment for EMS personnel, firefighters and hospital personnel) and to buy new antidotes to replace doses that have expired

  • $180,000 for training, drills and exercises

  • $40,000 for planning efforts and to increase coordination with regional hospitals

SPOKANE - $400,000

Spokane will also benefit from $400,000 in new funding.

"This funding will enhance our ability to respond to and recover from major incidents and disasters," said Tom Mattern, Deputy Director of the Spokane City/County Emergency Management Department.

The Department is responsible for 479,000 Spokane County residents and is also the primary responder for chemical, biological and radiological incidents in nine other counties (Ferry, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Spokane, Lincoln, Adams, Columbia, Garfield, Whitman, and Asotin)

The Spokane City/County Emergency Management Department plans to use funding for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Medical Notification System (Pyramid Project): The funding will add new abilities to quickly notify the region's doctors and health workers when patients come in with respiratory problems or other symptoms that may be caused by a chemical or biological incident.
  • Decontamination Tents: Approximately $100,000 will be used to purchase five "staging casualty collection tents" to be used at Spokane-area hospitals.
  • Faster Evacuations through a Mapping System: Funds will be used to install a mapping system at the Department's Emergency Operation Center. This equipment – which tracks wind patterns and other factors -- helps emergency officials determine which areas to evacuate, isolate or quarantine. Currently, mapping equipment is located in downtown Spokane – far from the officials who need it. By installing this system in the Emergency Operation Center, officials will have faster access to critical information.
  • Response Equipment: Funding will purchase equipment to respond to multi-casualty incidents including stretchers, dressings and body bags.
  • Antidotes and Pharmacist: Funding will purchase new antidotes to expand the Department's supply and will hire a part-time pharmacist to track the Department's supply. Disaster Mortuary Equipment: Funds will be used to purchase a new dental x-ray machine to identify victims of a mass casualty incident First Responder Training: To increase awareness of nuclear, biological and chemical incidents among first responders.
  • Increased Public Awareness and Public Training: Funds will help boost public awareness and will be used to expand existing CPR and basic first aid classes for residents. Exercises: Funding will help support exercises to test and evaluate the Department's capabilities.

Working to Protect Washington State

Senator Murray has led efforts to protect Washington communities from terrorist attacks. For example, Murray:

  • Introduced legislation to boost emergency management planning grants by $100 million
  • Funded Washington's three Combined Readiness Centers in Bremerton, Yakima and Spokane.
  • Helped pass the $4.6 billion Bioterrorism Preparedness Act of 2001
  • Secured $20 million for Washington state's bioterrorism response in 2002
  • Advocated for a national smallpox plan
  • Fought Bush Administration cuts to homeland security and first responders

  • Stood with the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters in fighting Bush Administration cuts to firefighter training, equipment and safety programs
  • Worked with Washington State's Public Health Lab, the state's first line of defense against bioterrorism

In February, the National Emergency Management Association presented Murray with its highest honor, the Congressional Recognition Award.

For more information see: FEMA online and Senator Murray's Homeland Security section