|Officials Caution: Don’t Let Guard Down |
Officials Caution: Don’t Let Guard Down
By Tech. Sgt. D. E. Manuszewski Jr., 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs.
Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota -- (ACCNS) November 1, 2001 -- A suspicious envelope sent to the 28th Bomb Wing Oct. 24 was tested and found to be negative for biological warfare agents.
However, Col. David McFaddin, the 28th BW vice commander, warns that just because this situation has turned out to be an apparent hoax doesn’t mean that we should let our guard down in any way.
"It’s probably even more important now that we keep attuned to what we’re receiving in the mail after getting this good news," McFaddin said. "Now is a logical time for those criminals responsible to assume we’ve become complacent. Obviously, we can’t afford any degree of complacency."
Lt. Col. Kenn Eversole, the 28th Support Group vice commander, was quick to applaud the actions of those involved in the incident.
"As far as I’m concerned, the situation was handled in textbook fashion," Eversole said. "From beginning to end, with minor exceptions, the incident couldn’t have been handled better."
The situation began when the person sorting a mail delivery to the wing headquarters building moved the item and powder began sifting out. The airman immediately took actions to eliminate any exposure to the facility or other people in the building.
"I'm just happy the (suspicious package) procedures were posted in the mail room and that they were e-mailed to us last week," the airman said.
The first step in any situation with a suspicious package is not to panic, said Maj. Gregory Reese, the 28th Security Forces Squadron commander. In this instance, the person sorting the mail remained calm.
"Not panicking is particularly important so any possible contamination isn’t expanded," the major said.
The next step is to avoid moving or touching the package, Reese said.
"After discovering the envelope, (the airman) remained calm and immediately secured the area," Eversole said, then notified someone in a nearby office who called 911 to report the situation.
"That’s perfect, but (what happened) next could’ve been done a bit better," he said, referring to the airman’s trip through the building to notify others to evacuate.
"The correct thing to do would’ve been to find someone else or phone someone else to initiate evacuation of the building," Reese said. "That way the risk of cross contamination is further limited."
Those who may have been contaminated should evacuate the building but remain at least 100 feet away from all others. The evacuation point should be upwind of the package’s location.
"Again, that’s to limit cross contamination," Reese said. "It’s understandable that people don’t want to go outside in cold, wet, windy conditions, but when compared to the risks involved with the suspicious package, those are very minor inconveniences."
The major also said that those people who may be contaminated shouldn’t approach rescue personnel when they arrive on scene. They should remain where they are and follow instructions.
It’s also important that no one involved leave until released by proper authorities. "We need to ensure we know who was there in case medical attention is required," Reese said.
Another tip: People who have classified material should ensure it’s safeguarded, McFaddin said.
"One last thing," the colonel said. "As you exit the facility, turn off your coffee pots and other electrical appliances that may cause a fire if left unattended."
He added that knowing and following established procedures might save your life or that of someone you work with.
"This was a warning," McFaddin said. "Whenever it comes and wherever it comes from, we need to be ready to respond with the same effort displayed (then)."