SENATE LAW AND PUBLIC SAFETY
"Testimony regarding the State of New Jersey's disaster preparedness"
Clifton City Hall
Clifton, New Jersey
|DATE:||October 23, 2001
MEMBERS OF COMMITTEE PRESENT:
Senator Norman M. Robertson, Chairman
Senator Louis F. Kosco, Vice-Chairman
Senator Anthony R. Bucco
Senator Garry J. Furnari
Senator John A. Girgenti
Anne M. Stefane Todd Dinsmore
Office of Legislative Services Senate Democratic
Committee Aide Committee Aide
Lillian C. Borrone
Office of Recovery and Victim Assistance
Office of the Governor 4
Captain Kevin J. Hayden
Office of Emergency Management
Division of State Police
New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety 15
Connie O. Hughes
Board of Public Utilities
New Jersey Department of the Treasury 39
Sue Murphy Ostergaard
New Jersey Legislative Representative
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey 48
President and CEO
New Jersey Hospital Association 52
Nancy D. Connell, Ph.D.
Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, and
Center for Biodefense
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey 57
John C. Ekarius
Government and Public Affairs
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey 65
Chief Joseph Forbes
Passaic County Office of Emergency Management 75
Thomas M. Metzler
Emergency Management Advisors L.L.C. 90
Nancy Connell, Ph.D. 1x
Thomas M. Metzler 4x
SENATOR NORMAN M. ROBERTSON, (Chairman): Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I want to thank everyone for coming today, especially my colleagues.
This is a formal meeting of the New Jersey Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.
The events of September 11 have been noted universally for their tragedy and for our own heartbreak. Among the things that it has done is it has focused us in on the extent to which government, at every level, is prepared to deal with emergencies of any kind. I know that folks in the State government, in the executive branch, at the Port Authority, and throughout the state and the municipalities and counties have been working tirelessly to improve our preparedness.
I will be stopped on a daily basis, practically, at the store or on the phone or at my office, and people will say, "Well, how safe are our airports? How safe is our drinking water? How safe are we from biological terrorism?" So, it seemed very logical to me that it was important to put together a hearing where we can ask those who are in charge of these initiatives to come forward and give this Committee a briefing.
One of the things that is important for any legislative body to do is to act as the eyes and the ears of the public and to ask the questions that need to be asked when something of public import takes place. And certainly nothing has been as dramatic as this for decades.
So I've asked a number of people working closely-- Our Senate staff has worked closely with the Governor's staff in order to put together a briefing for this Committee and, in turn, for the public on all aspects of our preparedness.
One of the offices that Senator and Acting Governor DiFrancesco put together was the Office of Recovery and Victim Assistance. He named Lillian Borrone as Coordinator of that office. We'll be hearing from Ms. Borrone. We'll be hearing from the Board of Public Utilities, from the Port Authority, from the Department of Health and Senior Services, from the Office of Emergency Management, as well as hearing from one of the county coordinators here in Passaic County that I've worked very closely with over the years. And also, we'll be getting some medical input on some of the questions that folks have with respect to bioterrorism.
So, let me first ask my colleagues if there's anything that they would like to say in opening this hearing, and then we'll go to our first witness.
Senator Kosco, whom I recognize, by the way, as not the Vice Chair of this Committee but as the former Chair of the Committee. We had a mini reorganization over the summer. We created the Labor Committee., and Lou was tapped to chair that committee, and I moved over as Chair of Law and Public Safety. Then the events of September 11 happened, so we have quite a bit on our plate. Our Committee has been well led by Senator Kosco for so many years.
We appreciate your leadership, Senator.
SENATOR KOSCO: Thank you.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Do you have anything you wanted to add?
SENATOR KOSCO: No. I'm just anxious to listen to the comments that we have. We have a great witness list prepared here, Mr. Chairman. And I'm anxious to listen to what they have to tell us and go on from there.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Thank you, Senator.
I'll mention to the folks, to our Committee members that if they wish to have their voice amplified, they have to hit the little red button here. (indicating) These microphones are for recording purposes.
Senator Bucco, from Morris County.
SENATOR BUCCO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'm just pleased that you've called this meeting so that we can bring everyone up to speed and to see exactly where we stand in the State of New Jersey and in our preparedness. So, thank you for calling this meeting and having everyone here on the witness list. It's very impressive.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Thank you, Senator.
My friend and colleague from Passaic County, Senator Girgenti.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: Thank you, Norm -- Senator.
I just want to say that I'm glad that you called the meeting. I feel that it will be informative, and we're here to really hear the testimony. So I would like to hear what the people that are the experts in the field have to say.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Okay. Great.
I will also point out that one of the things that we wanted to do is to get the hearing out of Trenton and get it up into the area of North Jersey, especially because of our proximity to New York because of how it's affected the northern end of our state so dramatically. And, as it turned out, all of the Senators on this Committee happen to be from the northern part of the state. Let me call on, as our first witness, Lillian Borrone, the Coordinator of the Office of Recovery and Victim Assistance.
Ms. Borrone, welcome, and thank you for coming.
L I L L I A N C. B O R R O N E: Good morning, Chairman Robertson and Senators Bucco, Kosco, and Girgenti. It's a pleasure to represent the Governor's Office and to be here to present testimony before you this morning.
There is, as you said, a lot that's happened, and I'd like to go through a very quick review of a number of areas that I think you will find interesting, but also you'll find lead to areas of future requests that we will be involved with as we talk with you in future legislative hearings, as well as we work with you in requests that we're making to the Congress for their consideration.
I'm going to cover three specific areas: first, the State of New Jersey's preparedness in terms of responding to future terrorist attacks; second, the actions taken since September 11 to meet the State's needs now and in the future; and third, those issues that we believe will help to enhance the public's awareness of the resources available to both the State and the counties, as well as local communities, to prepare and to assure that we're equipped properly in the event of future terrorists attacks.
My specific remarks will address the actions taken since September 11 to respond to the needs of our citizens, to the businesses in our state, and the state overall.
Captain Kevin Hayden, who you briefly introduced, who is Deputy Director of State Police, Office of Emergency Management, will discuss our preparations for response, as will Dr. Connie O. Hughes, President of the Board of Public Utilities. And, of course, Dr. George DiFerdinando, Acting Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, will discuss how the public can become more aware of and vigilant about our own public safety -- certainly, a major consideration in light of the recent anthrax attacks. Each of us will report on the actions taken to date and some of the elements of the new plans in the future.
Certainly, as I know you understand, some of the issues that we are working on we really can't share at this point, because they could represent a compromise of safety or security issues.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: And even as you say that, I meant to say that as a preface to the meeting. There are some things that, while we will get broad-brushed assurances, there are some detailed aspects that, for security reasons, I would ask the Committee to bear with us and not go into them in any tremendous detail.
I will also make note of the fact that Attorney General Farmer was invited and had originally intended to be here with us, because I had asked him to prepare some comments with respect to what he might need as tools for law enforcement, especially. I had authored a bill, the Antiterrorism Act of 2001, which is one of a few bills that are currently in the hopper that have been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He is involved in a number of very active investigations down in Trenton and is working very closely with the Governor. So we felt it might be best to really take his testimony as part of the Judiciary Committee's consideration of those initiatives.
So, I'm glad you mentioned that, because we should take note of that.
MS. BORRONE: Thank you, Senator.
Standing literally in the shadow of the World Trade Towers on September 11, Light Hudson County, each morning through the path tunnel under the Hudson River, thousands of New Jersey commuters made their way to jobs at the World Trade Center and other locations in Manhattan. In fact, about 40 percent of the workers employed at the World Trade Center were New Jersey residents. All that, of course, to our horror, changed on that stunning morning.
New Jersey suffered devastating losses of its citizens, its transportation routes, and of the livelihoods of those who worked at the Trade Towers. Those who escaped with their lives certainly saw the horror of that day.
New Jersey fire and rescue workers reported unstintingly to the call for assistance as it came in from New York. New Jersey provided medical care to the wounded and, unfortunately, mortuary facilities for the dead. We provided staging areas from Liberty State Park and elsewhere for the National Guard, law enforcement, rescue, and health care workers. And, subsequently, at the request from New York City, we continued to provide that assistance, specifically law enforcement and rescue assistance. And we, as well, spent millions of dollars, in the week immediately after the attack, on dredging the harbor areas so that New York operations could proceed as debris and victim recovery was undertaken.
The first major step, after the initial response to the attack, by the Governor's Office, was to ensure that all of the resources of the State were available and would be made available to support New York and to support our own citizenry. The Governor mobilized the cabinet, and they moved forward to assure that communication linkages, to the degree they could be able to be put in place immediately via the State Web page, were in place, that a New Jersey Crisis Hotline number was initiated to help provide information to victims families or to people who were injured or to businesses that suffered losses. And they provided support to the first responders through the State Police and through other services provided by the State.
On September 17, Acting Governor DiFrancesco established the Office of Recovery and Victim Assistance through executive order. The initial mission of the Office, which I am proud to be responsible for, was very straightforward: to act as the single point of coordination to assure that all Federal, State, local, public, and private assistance was made available to support the victims of the attack, those injured, the families of the victims killed or missing, and those rendered unemployed, as well as to the businesses impacted throughout our state.
On September 19, the Family Assistance Center was established at Liberty State Park. The Center, which is staffed by a daily average of 185 people, provides a full array of State and Federal services every day of the week, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. until November 1. On that date, we will change the hours from 8:30 in the morning to 8:00 in the evening, first, in recognition of the fact that some of the traffic that we see at the park is in the middle of the day, and secondly, to give the workers there a little bit of relief. They've been at it around the clock, basically, since September 19.
State and Federal agencies have joined with charitable organizations like the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and the National Organization of Victim Advocacy. There are 26 entities, in all, to provide comprehensive assistance and counseling at that center for any individual or family member from New Jersey and, in this case from Pennsylvania, who had victims at the World Trade Center, as we can.
More than 1100 families and over 3400 individuals have come to the center since it opened. And the New Jersey Crisis Hotline has handled over 4600 calls since it was initiated. One hundred sixty death certificate applications have been filed by New Jersey families at the Center. And the Center has handled registration of 343 of the 524 missing persons reports that have been filed in New Jersey.
Senator, if I can just pause there. One of the things we still are very concerned about is that we believe there are more residents of New Jersey, who were killed or who have been missing since that day, who have not been registered formally in the law enforcement system. And we really beg and plead with their families, as hard as it may be, to make sure that they do register through either their local law enforcement organization or calling the New Jersey Crisis Hotline, 1-866-NJ-CRISIS, or by coming to the Family Assistance Center, because without that registration taking place, we can't assure that the families know what opportunities for benefits there may be for assistance that can help them at a very difficult time.
The Federal government, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration, has made significant resources available to New Jersey as a result of the declaration of emergency made by the President on September 14.
We know that over 300 businesses from every county, every area of this state, have advised us that they have suffered significant financial losses, and they may have, in some cases, laid off a significant number of employees since September 11.
SBA loans are available. That's a 4 percent rate to them. And access is simple through FEMA's telephone registration number, and I'll give out that number in a moment. Many of the visitors to the center have come because of job losses. We've seen over 500 New Jersey residents so far, including 128 who lost their jobs because they were working at the World Trade Center.
Again, besides state unemployment, individuals may be entitled to other benefits. And they can find that out by calling the FEMA hotline, which is 1-800-462-9029, or by coming to the ferry terminal at Liberty State Park, where we have the Family Assistance Center located. There, the counselors can assist them not only in registering but also learning about the entire array of benefits.
Charitable organizations at the Center have distributed just under $1 million in relief assistance. That's not been highlighted very much by the press. But people have been able, in some cases, to get immediate financial help for mortgage loans, for food, for transportation, or other assistance that they may need. And that's why it's so critical that if a family hasn't been to the Center, they come and see what services and relief are available.
Perhaps most importantly, over 700 family members have been escorted to the World Trade Center site to say their last goodbyes. We have been providing a ferry service to bring family members who call for reservations so that they have the opportunity to go to the World Trade Center in a protected method.
The Center provides a source of spiritual and mental support, as well, from the remembrance walls, to the professional mental health counselors, to the clergy, who have volunteered their time since the day it opened.
I think it's important for your Committee to know that the remembrance walls will not be destroyed when we all agree it's time for the Center to close. The remembrance walls will be lovingly packed up, and they will become part of the planning for the long-term memorial, which, as you know, the Governor has appointed Governors Kean, Byrne, and Florio to co-chair. And that memorial commission is expecting to have it's first meeting some time within the next two weeks.
Although we have accomplished a great deal in these 42 days since the attack on the World Trade Center, more must be done, and clearly, more is being done to reach out to people that we are concerned about, in particular, to immigrant populations. We're working with immigrant communities, through advocacy organizations, to identify and assure that families of victims come forward to document their loss. They will not be penalized by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. We have the assurances of the Commissioner that that's so. So, we are hopeful that by reaching out through religious community leaders, as well as advocacy organizations, we can encourage people to make their losses known to us.
We're also continuing to encourage the unemployed to use the New Jersey Labor Job Connection through the New Jersey Department of Labor Web site, which can be reached by going to the State of New Jersey Web site. There, the Department of Labor posts jobs available, as well as provides résumé information to employers who are seeking candidates for positions.
Commissioner Boyd, yesterday morning, told me we have 19,000 jobs listed on the Web site. Now, that's a lot, but not enough. We know we have to do more for New Jerseyans. And so, Labor is working to promote job fairs. Two are already scheduled in the next week in Edison for different areas of attention and focus for the employment community. And we are planning a major event in mid November, which is-- The venue is not yet set, so I can't announce the date, but we are hopeful that by the end of this week, we will announce a very major job fair that will be a complement to those that were held in New York and these that are ongoing.
Businesses, as I said before, are encouraged to apply for Small Business Administration loans. They may also apply, interestingly, if they have been impacted because of military call-ups. So please, if you are suffering as a business owner because you've lost key staff as a result of the reserve call-ups or the National Guard call-ups, please look into the SBA program.
That's all an important part of the role, but that was part of the initial mission that I described to you when the Office was created. Since then, the mission has expanded. We are, as I indicated before, working on the memorial program, but we're also working with Attorney General Farmer and the Office of Charities to assure we identify all charities which victims may benefit from, that these charities are registered in New Jersey and abide by New Jersey requirements, to clearly state their criteria for eligibility, and that funds are distributed properly with a minimum of administrative expense.
We're working with you on legislation, as you've mentioned, with the advice and input of the Attorney General, on a number of program areas including the New Jersey Scholarship Program, which we hope the Legislature will consider acting upon when it reconvenes.
We are assisting in the establishment of the New Jersey Security Task Force. That Task Force has been initially organized. We are, right now, reviewing potential candidates for the public membership to the Task Force. We have initiated the work that the State agencies, who are members of that Task Force, can undertake to review not only what we've done in the past, and some of that you'll hear about from Captain Hayden, but to also look at what new steps, thanks to the legislation you enacted a few weeks ago, are necessary to take, including: the creation at the State Police of an enlarged intelligence gathering unit, the development and implementation of the new equipment initiatives that were approved in that legislative agenda, and the planning that's necessary to deal with mass casualty events like we saw as a result of the terrorist attack, not just those that are the result of natural disasters.
We are working, as well, to identify appropriate private sector representatives of the different industries and business communities throughout our state to assure that the Infrastructure Advisory Subcommittee of the Task Force has a broad and appropriate level of representation, so that we can work in conjunction with both the private sector community, as well as government agencies, not just at the State level, to assure that as we look at potential areas of threat -- potential targets, if I can use that term -- of opportunity to someone who wants to do us harm in this state, that we can work to identify ways to better secure those facilities and target areas beyond what we have understood to be conventional wisdom in the past. And we need their input and advice in order to do that. We don't wish to mandate things that may not be sensible.
Of course, our most critical role is to look back at what has occurred and to translate those experiences into plans for the future. Others on the Task Force will do the intelligence gathering and the assessing and analyzing, but we will participate in the scenario development in thinking about what may or could occur and how to take steps to prevent those occurrences and dealing with them if they do occur.
At the same time, we're working to assure appropriate resources are available to meet the security needs that we will have in this state for the future, including needs for additional equipment at the State, county, and local community levels.
In fact, this week the Governor and a number of us on his staff will be heading to Washington to meet with our congressional delegation to talk about a program, the New Jersey Initiative, which the Governor will describe in a little more detail this afternoon. That program, we hope, will lead to not only the reimbursement from FEMA for funds that have been expended but also the consideration of additional support that reflects the safety and security requirements that we have in the state, including the important requirements of making sure our teams -- our hazardous materials handling teams, our search and rescue teams, our police and firefighter teams are appropriately equipped.
New Jersey has an excellent reputation nationally, because we were well ahead of many states in planning and preparing for and in training our forces to deal with mass-casualty events. But we are now writing a new version of the past conventional wisdom. That new version will look at the entire system of emergency management. And that is something that all of us who are on the Security Task Force are dedicated to making sure happens -- that we understand the entire system not just in the preparation and the implementation but making sure that as we do see events as horrible as the one that just happened -- if they occur in the future, that we've thought through every aspect of them, including the human side, which, I think, has been dramatically evidenced as we've been dealing with the results of September 11.
This is an appropriate point for me, Mr. Chairman, to turn to Captain Kevin Hayden to discuss the State's plans and capabilities in emergency management. And as the Captain comes forward, I'd just like to say to you, we appreciate the opportunity to provide this update this morning and hope that we'll have the chance to do so again in the near future.
Thank you very much.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Ms. Borrone, thank you very much. It has not been an easy job, but it's an emotionally taxing one, I know, for everybody involved in what's happened in the last several weeks.
Let me, unless there's a really compelling question that any of our members have -- let me ask Captain Hayden to come forward because so much of what's being done we'll be hearing about in stages today.
MS. BORRONE: Do you want us to stay here or go back?
SENATOR ROBERTSON: No, no, please feel free to stay, if you would.
C A P T A I N K E V I N J. H A Y D E N: Good morning, Senators.
I'd like to take the opportunity just to hand out some material for each of you -- a packet. We can discuss that. And then I'll go on the record if that's all right with you.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: That's fine. Thank you.
CAPTAIN HAYDEN: What I'd like to do in the beginning, Senator, with your permission is, I'd like to go over a little bit of detail of what's in this packet for each one of the members of your panel. I'll then talk a little bit about what we've been doing on the State level both from the emergency management point of view -- and very judiciously go over some of the areas that we're covering on an investigative side of the issue and talk about the overall emergency management--
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Go right ahead.
CAPTAIN HAYDEN: --within the State of New Jersey. And if you just would refer to your packets in here, I will show you what we'll go over.
First off, we have a packet in here that says, "State Government Debriefing About Domestic Preparedness Activities." I'll go over that in detail with you. You also have a handout in there that talks about the New Jersey Emergency Management Section within the Division of State Police. You also have in your handout the Web site that we have for the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management. You also have in your handout a memo that I sent out to all 21 county coordinators that talks about what we expect them to do and a brief synopsis of the events from the World Trade Center. What you also have in your packet is a Domestic Preparedness on Hazardous Materials, Emergency Response Planning Group. I'll talk about that in detail. Also, I have a synopsis for you of the World Trade Center events, the State's response to the World Trade Center, and the ongoing things that are going on.
I'll try to cover them as briefly as I can, Senators, and then go into some detail with you.
You should also have in your packet a synopsis of the initial events of the World Trade Center. It's a one-page-- And then you should also have the talking points of Colonel Dunbar. If you do not have that, I'll talk about that real quick.
Let's go back to the events of the World Trade Center on September 11. The event occurred at approximately 8:45 in the morning. Immediately upon notification, the Superintendent and the Attorney General, as well as the Governor's Office, activated the State's Emergency Operating Center. We were moving in many different ways, almost simultaneously, along with our partners in the county -- the municipal organizations.
Now, I refer to these -- and I'm going to read right from this sheet. Within two minutes, we had State Police and marine police in route to the North Cove. I will tell you that this marine police boat pulled over 100 victims from that area, including police and firemen who were trapped in the World Trade Center -- New York City police and firemen.
We had over 1500 people treated at the Liberty State Park through the vast array of county and municipal EMS organizations, which were coordinated from a State level. In five minutes, we had the State Police helicopter at the 34th Street heliport to assist in medivac and also aerial surveillance. As I said, the State EOC was immediately activated. We immediately activated our National Guard, which has done a tremendous role over the last month and a half of a lot of the areas that we were talking about. In 40 minutes, we had State Police personnel at Liberty State Park, the Meadowlands, and the Port Authority. I'll go back into the 1992 World Trade Center bombing. A lot of the lessons that we've learned there are a lot of the lessons that we implemented in here.
New Jersey is a corridor state. New Jersey's role in there was to coordinate the goods and services coming into the city of New York. Sometimes, when we work in a disaster, as many of you know, there's not enough help, and sometimes there's too much help. Our role was to support New York. Our role was not to go in there and to take over any of the situation, nor could we. Our role was to coordinate the goods and services from other state agencies, from other areas around the United States, coming into New York. And that role worked very well.
Within two hours, we had our USAR Team within the city of New York, which was a tremendous help right from the beginning. Unfortunately, the--
SENATOR ROBERTSON: The USAR is?
CAPTAIN HAYDEN: Urban Search and Rescue-- It's our Urban Search and Rescue, which we appointed by $1.5 million. It's probably one of the best teams within the United States. Hopefully, we'll gain the FEMA recognition that it needs to have. Unfortunately, the fire chief who requested the Urban Search and Rescue Team from the city of New York was killed when one of the World Trade Centers collapsed. That's an unfortunate event.
We had over 350 ambulances, which were staged throughout New Jersey by the use of our Regional Emergency Medical System, out of the University of Medicine and Dentistry. And that plays a tremendous role in not only the paramedic units but the first aid response. And that's something that we've coordinated throughout the years. And they did a tremendous job.
As I said, over 1000 people were treated and transported to area hospitals. And here's the key that many people don't know. We treated over 35,000 people in the State of New Jersey. Those were ambulatory people who would come in and walk out of the hospitals.
What I have done is, I have a mapping here, which I will provide for each of you, which talks about all the people that were treated within the State of New Jersey.
And I'll give this to you, Senator -- some of the mapping that we will be talking about from the-- I'll hand that out later to the other Senators.
We have approximately 365 troopers that were deployed for a variety of reasons throughout the State of New Jersey, along with National Guard personnel -- and other events. I will tell you that the events surrounding the World Trade Center were coordinated both on a State basis, a county basis, and on a municipal basis. And I'm very confident in our response activities.
The Governor took a very proactive response to this. Within the hour of the World Trade Center, he had a meeting of his senior staff, of which I was part of. We were briefing him on what needed to be done and what needed to be addressed. The Attorney General was there.
As you well know, the Superintendent of State Police is not only the Superintendent of State Police, he's also the State Director of the Office of Emergency Management. And we controlled most of those events from the State Emergency Operating Center. The Superintendent was out in the field, and we ran the Emergency Operating Center from Division headquarters.
In the weeks that came, we asked the Governor to -- and the Governor requested an emergency declaration from the Federal government. I will tell you that as of today, we have approximately over $32 million worth of public assistance requests into the Federal government. And Ms. Borrone spoke about that a little bit. I'll go into that a little bit later. We're requesting public assistance for emergency protective measures.
There's an ongoing event that's going on right now, and that's the anthrax scare. And I'll talk about that a little bit later.
Let me just go back and reiterate what Ms. Borrone went over when she talked with you about what we have in the State of New Jersey.
In 1979, as the Senator kindly reminded me as we started this, Governor Byrne, under Executive Order 101, turned the Emergency Management over to the Division of State Police. And we have worked since 1979 in cooperation with the county and the municipal agencies to develop an infrastructure for emergency management in the State of New Jersey. I am confident to tell you that we are way ahead of the power curve on the national level. And I'm going to bring home some of those points to you.
In the State of New Jersey, each municipality is required to have a local emergency planning council. In the State of New Jersey, by law, each municipality and county is supposed to have an emergency operating plan. And the State of New Jersey is 100 percent compliant to that.
Before the World Trade Center incident occurred, we had formed a domestic preparedness group within the State of New Jersey, and I'll refer to this domestic preparedness handout that I have in here. And it will go over, in detail, what the domestic preparedness group was responsible for.
If you turn to your first page -- actually your second page, it talks about a background for the development of this. And this was in May of 1997 in an AG's memo that talked about developing this domestic preparedness group. We were way out ahead of the national agenda on this. This domestic preparedness group brought in every State agency to discuss issues of terrorism.
I can tell you, in the last two years -- and in this particular county -- I know Chief Forbes is here, and he'll talk later -- that we held terrorism exercises not only on a county level -- all 21 counties -- but on municipal levels far ahead.
We were working, unfortunately, before this event occurred, with the Port Authority to develop a biochemical exercise for the actual Port. I worked with Ms. Borrone in the past, when she was head of the Port, on other exercises. So we were working with a biochemical incident exercise that I talked about.
You'll also note that in your handout, we have met -- I have showed you a compilation of a note that I have here -- briefing for the county coordinators, which I held on October 17. And if you refer to the last page of that, I had a conference call with all 21 county coordinators -- emergency management. And I asked them -- on the last page -- I asked the counties to take particular attention -- or pay particular attention to meet with all the county police and fire EMS and their hospitals with regards to the ongoing hazmat awareness issues. We discussed the coordination of the new anthrax scare with the county and also municipal -- local emergency planning councils.
We asked them to go over their training issues with regards to their county hazmat training coordinators. And the last thing we asked them is to keep a rough estimate of what is being expended with the new anthrax incidences, especially within the State of New Jersey.
And I talked to you a little bit about the training and the planning and the coordination within the State of New Jersey. Let me just hold off for the Senators.
In the State of New Jersey, we have an operational awareness course. This course was developed back in 1993. It's latest edition was updated in July of 1997 -- correction, in July of this year. And in the last nine years, we have trained over 150,000 police, fire, EMS -- emergency medical services, public works people, Department of Transportation people, with regards to hazmat awareness and how to respond to an incident. And I'm going to refer to Pages 80-116. And I'll give this to you, Senator.
And on Pages 80 through 116, it teaches all the first responders on what they should be doing when they respond to evidences or incidences regarding a hazardous material or, in this event, an anthrax issue. And I'll give this to you, Senator. We can talk about this.
We have also developed response courses for hospitals. We've developed response courses for operational awareness and also technicians' level training.
The Division of State Police trains every hazmat technician within the State of New Jersey. We have trained over 1900 police, fire, EMS personnel to a level to be able to take offensive procedures against any hazmat or, in this particular case, we're talking about anthrax, which is an event that I'll talk a little bit about a little bit later.
You need those trained people. We provide that training. We have 57 hazmat teams within the State of New Jersey. We have the capability to respond. I'm very confident in that -- very confident in that.
We have ongoing training as we speak. What I'm asking each of the counties and the municipalities to do within the State of New Jersey is to review their operational awareness costs, to review their hazmat procedures, to review the procedures they have for their emergency operating plans. We want them to go back and to review their continuity of operations plans and to look at those and to review them with regard to what's going on in the United States today -- not only the United States but also within the State of New Jersey. I don't want them to overreact, but I don't want them to underreact. We have plans. We know what we're doing. We know how to respond. We have an obligation to make the public safe and to give them that safety factor. And we do have that capability in this state.
I met with all the-- We had a meeting last week with the County Prosecutors' Association. We're providing specialized training this week for the teams that will be recovering any threats or anthrax threats within the State of New Jersey. We're providing specialized training for our own specialized and technical services personnel within the Division of State Police to bring them up to snuff.
One of the things that's very important-- If you look in the back of the book that I gave you, Senator, three years ago, we provided a pocket response guide to terrorism events. And we've sent this out to all of our counties and all of our municipalities, and I'll be glad to share this with you. This is in the back of your book. We're asking the counties and the municipalities to give this to all their emergency respondents, their police, their fire, their EMS personnel.
With regards to our ability and our working relationship with the prosecutor's office, we're keeping him informed. We're holding specialized training, as I said, and we're providing him updates as necessary.
The Superintendent of State Police is working hand in hand with the Federal government, with the FBI, to address the incidences that are going on within the Hamilton Post Office and the Ewing Township Post Office. And we had meetings as of yesterday with the CDC. We had meetings with the State Health Department and the FBI to discuss those issues, which I am not at liberty to discuss before you right now.
I want to talk about an ITIP program. It's called ITIP, Infrastructure Targeting Identification Program. Ms. Borrone spoke about that. President Hughes will speak about that a little bit later.
Three years ago, we developed an ITIP program in the State of New Jersey to develop a list of what is known as hardcore targets for terrorism within the State of New Jersey, way out ahead of the power curve. We are refining that list. We asked all 21 counties to give us a list. And I'm sure Chief Forbes can talk about the situation in Passaic County. I've dealt with Morris County on their issues. And we have a qualified list.
I'm not going to go into the details of that listing and how we came up with that. But we are reviewing those lists. We are trying to harden those targets against "terrorism attacks." We are asking them to review their corporate contingency plans. We're asking them to review their continuity of operations plans as we speak. We are meeting with every utility. Ms. Hughes will speak to that.
We're also meeting with our SARA, our Superfund Amendment Reauthorization Act facilities and our TCPA, our Toxic Catastrophe Prevention Act facilities. Those are our chemical handling facilities within the State of New Jersey.
And Senator, you can refer to that book, and I'll give you an outline -- GIS of every TCPA facility that we have in the State of New Jersey and every SARA facility. It gives you the level of all of our dams, our reservoirs, etc., etc.
We're meeting with the Water Utility Authority, I think, tomorrow. We're meeting with them. If I understand, Jim Giuliano (phonetic spelling) is in the back here. We're meeting with every one of them to discuss those issues. So there's ongoing events that are occurring within the state as we speak right now.
I want to thank the Senators for the legislation recently, which enabled additional people to be given to the New Jersey State Police Office of Emergency Management. I'm not saying to you that that's the end. I'm telling you it's the beginning.
I appreciate the money that you put there for us to improve some of the capabilities that we have. I want to talk a little bit later, off-line, about some of the issues that we may have with regards to equipment, but we may need to come back to this end for more. But right now, I appreciate what has been done. It will enable us to do some of the things that we should be doing to be very proactive.
And, again, I just want to talk to you -- that I am very confident in our ability to respond. I'm very confident in our ability to address the facts that are facing us. As the Superintendent says and as the Attorney General says and as the Governor says, this is not something that's going to go away. This is something that we need to change our lives a little bit about. Again, I don't want to overreact, but I don't want to underreact.
I'll be glad to answer any of your questions right now.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: I have two areas. One, I'm not really sure if this question is properly placed with your office, but you can pass it along.
One of the concerns that's been expressed to me by some folks in Bergen County is the strain on local law enforcement for the policing of the George Washington Bridge. And I'll mention that to our Port Authority representative as well. I know the State Police has done a great job at the Hudson River Crossing, especially at the Lincoln Tunnel, where their presence is very obvious.
I know that some folks on the county side in Bergen County are starting to get a little stretched and are wondering whether or not there's going to be any assistance given either through the State Police or the National Guard.
CAPTAIN HAYDEN: We have discussed that issue, Ms. Borrone and I, on many different levels. I will tell you right now that the State Police is being stretched from one end of the state to the other. The National Guard is being stretched from one end of the state to the other. We have worked with the Department of Corrections with regards to those issues.
With regard to the George Washington Bridge, we are committed to assist the Port Authority in providing personnel, either State Police personnel, Guard personnel, Department of Corrections personnel, with protection of that infrastructure target. That's one of our major infrastructure targets.
The Superintendent can speak to that more to you, and I'll have him call you personally on that, if that's what you want, Senator.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: That would be fine.
The other thing is, and it sort of harkened back to the days when I was in county government, I was also Law and Public Safety Chair then. One of the things that was a perennial problem in emergency response was the problem of communications. When we would go between one fire company and another, between fire and police, very frequently they were on different wave lengths. And I mean that literally as opposed to figuratively. They were on different radio wave lengths.
What is being done, if anything, to try to improve our ability to communicate among the various response teams?
CAPTAIN HAYDEN: I'm glad you asked that question. That's a very good question, and I'll answer you as succinctly as I can.
In the floods under Hurricane Floyd, we realized ahead of time that there was a problem with communications, especially in Bergen and in Passaic County. And what we did before that -- we sent our 800-megahertz system -- our State Police 800-megahertz system-- We provided every county emergency management office with our 800-megahertz system. We flew up to Bergen County, and we flew up to Passaic County, our 800-megahertz system.
We have provided all 21 counties with that. We have provided the National Guard with our 800-system, the FBI, FEMA, etc. I will tell you that we had one of our towers on top of the World Trade Center. It was destroyed. And we are running into a problem with regards to the area up in North Jersey with our State Police 800-system, which is an analog system.
We will be approaching the Legislature from an analog system to go to a digital system. We will need $15 million to upgrade our system to go from analog to digital and what is known as a smart zone, which will be a total cost of approximately $23 million just to upgrade our infrastructure. And I'm telling you, our infrastructure is approximately 18 years old, and they no longer produce the products to repair the system. We have some gaps in our system.
Every operation I've ever been to in my career, communications is always an issue. It's always been an issue, whether it's police, whether it's fire, whether it's EMS. We have offered to put our 800-megahertz system in every county PSAP, Public Safety Access Point. That will cost us about $1.3 million. We've looked at that issue.
But what really the State of New Jersey needs to do if they really want to be serious about this is, they need to look at a whole total revamping of this communication system. And that's not within my purview to discuss, but I'm telling you any event that I've ever gone to, and people will back me up that are in this audience here -- and you know as well as I do, Senators-- At any event that I have, there's always been a communication problem. I've never been to an event where that's not occurred.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: That's why--
CAPTAIN HAYDEN: However, I will tell you it's not uncommon. It's not uncommon in this event. We have a statewide police emergency network, which people mistake as the State Police Emergency Network. That's really not the case. It's a SPEN system. We've been looking at that to upgrade that system. But it costs money.
If you're serious about communications, Senator, it costs money. And that's what we need to discuss.
SENATOR BUCCO: Captain, that SPEN system is 20 years old.
CAPTAIN HAYDEN: That SPEN system is old. You're right. It's over 20 years old, and there's no money behind it to keep it upgraded.
I will tell you, in the State Police, we run the SPEN test every single day. We upgraded our system. We spent a half a million dollars to upgrade our system after the Gonzales shooting to make sure that-- It was an unfortunate event where a trooper was shot and killed by a deranged person.
Our ability to speak to other county and municipal agencies was hampered, because we don't have -- we needed to upgrade that system. We keep that system running properly. But there are municipal entities that may not keep it up. There are county entities that may not keep it up. We don't want periodic testing. There's no statewide governmental control over that system. And that's something we need to look at very seriously, Senator.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: And I guess the point that I'm making is that now is the time, not only by virtue of the events that have happened, but now is the opportunity for us to give that sort of support to emergency services.
The other question that I have is, how much are we moving to a new paradigm in terms of communications, as among the services themselves, in sort of a mutual aid fashion? The reason I ask that is because one of the things that struck me, as I watched an overwhelmingly positive response to the World Trade Center disaster, is the fact that the response was so overwhelming. And as I talk to various fire forces, police forces, EMS forces, one of the things that they're concerned with -- in lower case letters -- they're concerned with making sure that the communications in a mutual aid sense are organized in such a way where there isn't an over-response that may, in turn, wind up leaving a short change on another front.
CAPTAIN HAYDEN: Well, I can address that from-- I'll address it from multiple sides. From a law enforcement side, we talked about the upgrading of our systems to provide every public safety access point with the State Police 800-megahertz system.
Hunterdon County-- I'm going to give you an example. Hunterdon County has an emergency command post that they utilize. It's the first-- I think it was the first command post that we put an 800-megahertz system -- our State Police 800-megahertz radio system into their bus. That bus was at Liberty State Park, because it had the interoperability. So that worked very, very well.
With regards to the emergency medical communications, the emergency medical communications is handled out of REMS in Newark. We provided University Hospital with our 800-megahertz system on a statewide basis. They will coordinate hospital beds in the State of New Jersey. They will coordinate the routing of ALS and BLS, advanced life support and basic life support, ambulances. And that works very well. In the south, we would ask Cooper Hospital. But we need to put money into Cooper Hospital to let them have a radio system like the University of Medicine and Dentistry does. They do a very good job. Micom up in Bergen County does a very good job of coordinating the ALS and the BLS systems within the State of New Jersey. We also work very well with the New Jersey First Aid Council in coordinating that.
Let me tell you that after the 1992 World Trade Center bombing, because all of our EMS personnel went into New York, we said, "No. We're going to keep them on this side of the river. We'll stage them in Hudson County and Jersey City and in Bergen County up at the Meadowlands. We have mutual aid agreements with the city of New York to do that. We have mutual aid agreements with all the EMS communities and the fire services throughout the State of New Jersey.
Now, the fire service, I can't speak that well to with regards to how they're coordinated. But we do have county fire marshal -- county fire coordinators who coordinate all the fire services on this side.
With regards to communications amongst police, again, there is a breakdown in the system because we're on different channels, and some have 800-megahertz, some have 400-megahertz. That's an issue that I can't address to you right now.
But I'm telling you -- I'm going to say this to you, and listen when I say this to you. When you end up at a major event-- Before a major event occurs, the best communication system that you can have is relationships. That's relationships between the emergency medical services, between the fire groups, between the police, between the Department of Transportation. And that's the key to effective emergency response -- relationships.
I can walk up to a scene, and I know Chief Forbes. And I can talk to him. And it's just face to face. And we know, without even moving -- without even batting an eye, we know what we're going to do. I can go to Rich Loock in Morris County. I know exactly what he's going to do, because we have relationships. And that's the key to effective emergency response not only on an event that's occurring here but also in the investigative end -- the relationships between the Superintendent and the Office of the FBI. Kevin Donovan and the Superintendent work together. So that's relationship base-- So effective emergency response is based on relationships.
It's our relationship with the Guard. It's our relationship with DOT. It's our relationship with the Senate and the Assembly. And that's what makes it work very, very well.
MS. BORRONE: Senator, I'll just add one other piece. Before, I talked about the security task force looking at the entire system. And this is one element. The communications component is one element we've identified as needing to be more thoroughly examined and some recommendations brought forward. And as Captain Hayden has said, it is likely to result in us coming back to the Legislature asking for specific needs to be met.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: And that's well understood, certainly, by this Senator and, I'm sure, by the members of this Committee.
CAPTAIN HAYDEN: And one other thing, too, is that there is a Department of Justice grant, which we are applying for under the Federal government. And one of the key issues there is communications. So this does not go-- This is not an area that we are going to let go of. It's an area that we've been looking into, but it costs money. And that's an issue. Every time we run an exercise, every time we go to an event, communications is always an issue.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: All right.
Are there any other questions from the Committee?
Yes, Senator Girgenti.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: Certain individuals have come to me and asked questions. I'm just trying to look for some answers. So maybe if you can help me--
Recently, I was told on TV, a woman, who was a widow, appeared with two infants and described how she had to hire a lawyer in order to navigate and get financial assistance. Her husband had been a victim of the World Trade Center.
Is that the case in New Jersey? I don't know if this was New York or New Jersey. I know that that's the type of services you're providing. I don't think we should ever have to -- somebody that's a victim should ever have to hire a lawyer in that type of position. Have we heard anything like that?
MS. BORRONE: I agree with you, Senator. Someone need not do that. We do have American Bar Association member lawyers, as well as the Attorney General's staff, providing pro bono services to any family that needs it at the family assistance center. So, if you hear of or talk with someone who needs that assistance, please refer them to the center. We will provide assistance.
CAPTAIN HAYDEN: And I'll just echo what Ms. Borrone said. There is no person, no victim of this, that should not gain every access they can to any of the recovery processes. And I'll tell you, I take that personally. And I'll give you my work number, and I'll give you my home phone number that you can call me personally at, because that should not happen.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: Okay.
I guess to you, Captain, maybe if you can answer this or someone else-- How prepared are we, as a state, to handle the few bioterrorist attacks at this point?
CAPTAIN HAYDEN: All right. I'm going to discuss a few of those issues. And I know Dr. DeFerdinando--
SENATOR ROBERTSON: I'll just point out parenthetically, we have other folks who will be addressing themselves, especially to the medical end of it.
CAPTAIN HAYDEN: The medical end will be handled by the Doctor. I can tell you, with regards to our ability to handle biochemical incidents-- I'm confident that we can handle what we're being faced with right now with regards to response capability. I'm not going to tell you that there may not be other things that we would need. I will tell you that a Level A suit is very expensive. And that's a fully encapsulated suit, which a technician would need to enter into a contaminated area. I'm telling you that ongoing training is important. I'm telling you that I'm confident in the Health Department's capability. I'm confident in the Department of Environmental Protection's capability. I'm confident in the State Police's ability from the Domestic Preparedness Group. And I'm confident in the hazmat teams that we've trained throughout the state to handle the initial events.
With regards to dispersion of that, that's a different area that we can discuss later. But I'm confident that we'd be able to do the things that need to be properly done.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: And just two final things. One, my question is on communications, which you've handled very well. I think that after an event like this takes place, everybody can say what went wrong, what went right. Obviously, we were reacting to the situation. Nobody had dealt with anything like this in the past. And now we have to use this as a starting point to really correct whatever deficiencies we may have had, although, overall, as Norm said, it was a very positive, I think, performance on all our parts in terms of our EMS and fire and police. But certainly, use that as a mark to start to press ahead and see where we may have had deficiencies or where we can do some work.
One concern that I have, and again, I don't know if you're the individual to answer it. Maybe Mr. Forbes, maybe the Board of Public Utilities--
Again, constituents talk to me. And one thing that was brought to my attention is they can drive by Wanaque Reservoir, for instance. They can literally throw something into the water without even leaving the car. What are we doing about this? Is there anything being done in terms of our water supply? I know somebody else will come up here later.
CAPTAIN HAYDEN: We can address that, and I'm sure President Hughes can talk about the Board of Public Utilities.
We had a meeting with the water purveyors last -- October 11. And we've asked them to go back to review their contingency plans. We've asked them to go back and review their continuity of operations plans. And we asked them to go back to review some of the things that we -- examples (indiscernible) but also, what do they expect from the State of New Jersey.
Now, with regards to certain types of events in the war against Iraq in 1991-1992, we had several threats being phoned into certain reservoirs, of which Senator Bucco knows which one I'm talking about. And the type of threat that would come in would preclude a threatening of the water system.
We can talk off-line about that, Senator, with regards to what would need to be done to do that -- to disrupt our water system. But I don't think right now I'd be at liberty to discuss that with you. And we were working with the water purveyors. We've been working with the facility owners to address those specific issues, to take a biochemical agent -- and I'm not going to name which one -- and dump it into our reservoir system. It would take hundreds -- thousands of gallons to do that. And there are other ways, but I will discuss those with the Senators off-line about that.
But we are aggressively approaching that system, especially our water treatment plants and other issues. So we are-- I'm telling you that the Superintendent of State Police, along with the FBI, and along with the Domestic Preparedness Group, is looking into those issues. We have formulated a new group within the intelligence section to talk about those events, which you have more than graciously given us the money to start. Some of those events-- We'll be working with utilities on a statewide basis to discuss some of those specific issues. But for now, I would rather talk to you privately about that or as the Chairperson would request.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: Okay. That's fine. Thank you.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Senator Kosco.
SENATOR KOSCO: Thank you.
One of my constant complaints about government, whether it be Federal or local or State or county, is that we make programs available to the public, but we don't teach them how to access those programs. And one of the things that I'm looking at here -- or actually two of them-- There's two assistance guides here that we've been handed. And I'm looking at them for the first time. And I'm saying, "Well, how does the public--" It's a very, very good idea to have all this information available, but if the public doesn't have it, it's not doing anyone any good if it's sitting in your drawer or in your portfolio.
Now, every single agency in the State of New Jersey has a very simple and inexpensive way to distribute this type of information. There are 120 legislators in the State of New Jersey that would be glad to take cases of these things and distribute them to all the people with our names on them and say, "Compliments of Senator Kosco." (laughter)
CAPTAIN HAYDEN: I'll have it in your office this afternoon. (laughter)
SENATOR KOSCO: So you have a free way of getting all this information out to the people. So, if these types of pieces of information could be given to and sent to our legislative offices, we would then get them out to all the people in our districts. Believe me, they'd be getting out very, very quick, especially right now.
MS. BORRONE: Thank you, Senator.
SENATOR KOSCO: We have ways of getting this stuff out.
MS. BORRONE: Thank you. I did send everyone, last week, a packet of information on county-by-county information about missing persons as a result of this incident. And, in fact, just to your point, we were planning to distribute these. We just asked for a new printing. FEMA does this for the State of New Jersey. It's part of their Federal Assistance Program. So Captain Hayden is absolutely right. We should be able to get these to you so that you can make them available.
And I'd like to let you know, we're also distributing them to the religious leadership around the state so that they have them available. And also, we've sent them to every library in the state.
CAPTAIN HAYDEN: We also have a Web site.
And if the Senator would just-- The book that we have-- In each county, we have a hazardous materials training coordinator. And I'm just using the awareness book. On the back of that book, Senator-- On the back of that book -- yes, sir -- we provide these to all the counties -- is that terrorism card. You can rip that out and reproduce that a thousand times over. But I'm sure that I will have those plastic coated ones to you by the end of the day.
SENATOR KOSCO: Thank you.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Thank you.
SENATOR FURNARI: Mr. Chairman.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Yes, Senator Furnari.
And let me just mention, parenthetically, because you weren't here at the opening -- and to Senator Girgenti-- The major questions that we do want to have answered -- and we do have other witnesses who will be addressing different aspects -- include how safe are our airports, how safe is the drinking water, how safe are targets of opportunity, and what's the real deal with respect to the biological threats that we are beginning to see, how extensive are they, how much do we need to be concerned?
SENATOR FURNARI: Yes. Just for clarification and as a follow-up on Senator Girgenti's question, there are pro bono lawyers--
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Hit the red button, if you would. (referring to PA microphone)
SENATOR FURNARI: There are pro bono lawyers available to help fill out the FEMA forms. And the way we get in touch with them is to call FEMA or to call 866-652-7474.
MS. BORRONE: The New Jersey Crisis number, the one you just read, is one way to get in touch with them. The other is, if a family needs the assistance and can come to the assistance center at Liberty State Park, then they would be able to immediately sit down with an attorney. And the ABA is providing those attorneys pro bono, as is the Attorney General.
SENATOR FURNARI: Okay. Thank you very much.
MS. BORRONE: You're welcome.
SENATOR FURNARI: That's all I have.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Okay. Any other questions? (no response)
Thank you, both.
CAPTAIN HAYDEN: Thank you, Senators.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Thank you, Captain. Thank you, Ms. Borrone.
I'm going to call the President of the Board of Public Utilities, Connie Hughes.
Commissioner, thank you very much for being here today. I know you have extensive experience not only in your new duties but with your work with the Governor as Director of Policy and Planning. And we thank you for coming.
C O M M I S S I O N E R C O N N I E O. H U G H E S: Thank you.
Chairman Robertson, members of the Committee, good morning.
The terrorist attack of September 11 made Federal, State, and local governments acutely aware of potential vulnerabilities. Governor DiFrancesco has taken decisive action on the counterterrorist front and, as Ms. Borrone mentioned, has asked all the cabinet members to bring their full resources into play.
Let me point out that neither I nor the BPU staff purport to be security experts. Rather, working within the Governor's initiative, the BPU is facilitating the coordination and compilation of security information from the utility industry, including the assessment of its ability to mitigate any potential terrorist events. In addressing the issue of utility infrastructure security, there are two foci: the restoring of services and guarding against attacks.
New Jersey utilities, as you know, generally have a good track record in responding to emergencies and disasters. That's restoration. Previous weather-induced interruptions of service in the state, such as Tropical Storm Floyd, triggered Board-ordered protocols under the enforcement of the Board's Division of Service Evaluation, services restored based on these protocols -- major utility service disruptions due to weather or other events are managed through specific plans and protocols such as 24-hour utility crew response and the opening of utility emergency centers.
Utility design also provides for a degree of alternate supply capability. For example, the electric distribution system has some capability to serve interrupted customers through alternate paths. And the transmission portion of the electric system has a degree of alternate means of delivery based on redundancy that is designed into the system. And our power grid maintains a surplus of up to 20 percent excess power or 5000-megawatts.
Since the attack, all energy utilities are operating under storm preparedness mode, which placed all available restoration crews on 24-hour alert. However, the new and unprecedented terrorist threat requires a reassessment of these restoration protocols and an increased focus on presumptive or preemptive measures by the utilities. The security review may demand changes not only at the industry level but also at each of the critical assets controlled by each utility.
Immediately following the September 11 attack, BPU staff surveyed all utilities, energy, telecommunications, cable, and water to develop a benchmark of first cut information on security measures in place prior to September 11, post September 11, and on actives to review and reassess these measures. This information was provided to the Governor's Office, the Office of Emergency Management, and the Attorney General.
In addition, as Captain Hayden mentioned, the Board of Public Utility participates in ITIP, the Infrastructure Targeting Identification Program. Through that program, all utility sites, particularly critical infrastructure asset sites, are being mapped. All major utilities have security chiefs that report to the highest level within the corporation. All utilities have increased security patrols, staffed their critical facilities, and have taken other numerous steps to secure and protect their infrastructure.
The multistate PJM -- Pennsylvania, Jersey, Maryland -- power pool, which manages the availability of energy to the state, also took additional security measures such as restricting access to its building and operating facility.
Now, as you know, New Jersey has four nuclear powerplants. And these are under the direct Federal jurisdiction of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which defines standards for security of these plants. The NRC is currently reviewing and revisiting these security requirements as a result of the attack.
As a follow-up to the BPU's initial survey-- On October 11, the BPU, along with the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of Emergency Management held three meetings, as mentioned by Captain Hayden, with high-ranking officials from every electric, natural gas, telephone, cable television industry, and major water utility in the state. With respect to the latter, water utility, the Department of Environmental Protection also participated.
The meetings initiated a process to identify and address the need for more information concerning utility infrastructure security in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Four groups were formed as a result of this meeting and assigned with conducting a detailed assessment of present security practices to identify needs. These four utility working groups: energy, chaired by Al Koeppe of PSE&G; water, chaired by Andrew Chapman of E'town; telephone, chaired by Dennis Bone of Verizon; and cable, chaired by Karen Alexander of the cable industry, are already reviewing corporate response plans and evaluating industry wide and site-specific security issues.
This assessment is focusing on potential improvements in overall security, vulnerability to Internet cyber attacks, and an integration of lessons learned from past disasters. This review and assessment will be completed by early November and provided to the Attorney General's Office, as well as the Office of Emergency Management.
The review and assessment process will provide the basis for new utility security protocols. These could include: standardized background checks on employees and contractors; standards for types of perimeter, alarm, and other security measures; and travel needs of the utility work force in emergency conditions. In addition, an outline will be prepared by these groups, which will identify what security support might be needed from state government.
Further, in any disaster emergency situation, as this Committee has already mentioned, information is essential, and the coordination of information is essential. There are two aspects to disseminating information. One is the provision of accurate information concerning potential events to emergency management agencies. To this end, there are Board-mandated protocols in place. For example, electric utilities are required by these protocols to communicate directly with the county offices of emergency management during weather events or disasters.
The current situation, however, is uncharted territory and, as such, the four utility groups have been charged with reviewing these protocols in light of the new threat. As a result of the review, the Board will amend its existing protocols if necessary.
The other aspect of disseminating information is the provision of information to the public about what action to take, if any, and to reassure New Jersey residents before, during, and after a disaster or event, that all appropriate actions and safeguards are in place.
I certainly commend this Committee for bringing this discussion to the forefront.
We are working with the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management and the utilities to develop a comprehensive and coordinated effort to provide the public with appropriate, specific, and accurate information. Once all of these reviews and assessments are complete, the Board of Public Utilities is prepared to expedite any Board order or action necessary.
In conclusion, I am reaching out to my regulatory commission counterparts in other states, as well as internationally, with respect to their activities and role related to utility security issues.
I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to give you an update on the activities of the Board with respect to security issues. And I'm prepared to answer appropriate questions.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Thank you, Commissioner.
I realize that our nuclear powerplants are under the regulation of the NRC at the Federal level, but how detailed are their security requirements? I would imagine that over a period of time, given the focus on nuclear power, that they're relatively detailed. Am I correct in that or not?
MS. HUGHES: Again, not being an expert, however, having visited a nuclear power plant within the past two weeks and also being familiar a little bit with the NRC's regulations, they are very detailed. And there are periodic reviews and testing of the procedures that are in place.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Now, is there-- One of the concerns that was raised by a colleague of ours, Senator Connors, had to do with whether or not New Jersey's laws, in any way, made it more difficult to have security at some of the nuclear powerplants, most specifically, laws with respect to automatic weapons. In most powerplants, we are told -- at least Senator Connors made this representation -- that most powerplants throughout the country -- nuclear powerplants -- that those who are in charge of security are well-armed with automatic weapons and so forth -- but that that is not happening in the State of New Jersey. Are you familiar with that issue at all?
MS. HUGHES: I'm a little bit familiar with it. I do know that at the nuclear plants, they do have sharpshooters that are ever present. You cannot walk around without seeing sharpshooters. But in terms of the type of weapons, again, that's not my area of expertise.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Sure, but I'll mention it to you that you can include that in some of your considerations, because I know that he was very concerned that those who are in charge of security be as well armed as anybody who might present a threat.
Now, given the fact that the nuclear plants have very, very detailed security plans, which, I assume, they have to satisfy the NRC -- that they have adequate security. What is the thinking about our own regulatory posture with respect to utilities and their security? I mean, I realize that we're reaching out to them or encouraging them to -- but are we doing some thinking about developing regulations or requirements that will require them to put into place an adequate security system, because we're dealing with a number of different private sector providers?
MS. HUGHES: That's certainly part of the process that we're undertaking now in terms of the assessment. It's also why I'm reaching out not only to my counterparts in other states, because, obviously, the United States hasn't been in a terrorist environment -- but reaching out to other countries to get models of how their regulatory commissions interact and whether or not they do have regulations or put in place regulations beyond what we've already put in place in New Jersey with respect to protocols and responding to disasters.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Well, I know from my own discussions with providers on the water side-- Now, you get involved with water providers?
MS. HUGHES: We do regulate the public water utilities with respect to bacteriological or biological attacks as falls under the purview of the DEP.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Oh, okay. But with respect to the sorts of things that Senator Girgenti was discussing, I've been assured by a number of providers that they have been not only reviewing their security but increasing their security. And, of course, they normally decline to discuss that in any detail. But let me ask you in broad terms, is this something that the Board of Public Utilities is -- or others are discussing with them to make sure that it's brought up to speed?
MS. HUGHES: Absolutely. When we had our meeting on October 11 with the utility companies, at which Andrew Chapman volunteered to head up the working group-- By the way, the working group consists of the utilities and their security chiefs. It doesn't consist of BPU staff, but it's actually the experts in the field.
One of the big differences between the utility companies and the others is that there are a lot of small water sources. And there were representatives of some of the small municipal water entities at the meeting. And while they can't have security chiefs -- the resources are such that they can -- being part of this working group, they can benefit from the standards and protocols that we're going to lay out with respect to security.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Are there any other questions from members of the Committee?
SENATOR GIRGENTI: Connie, just as a follow-up -- and I don't mean to belabor this-- Somebody had told me, in terms of these utilities-- Are we using people that are just regular security guard people, or are we going to use people with expertise? I don't know if you know the answer to that, but that was a question that came to me of very big concern, because if we're going to use people on staff that are really not trained or have the expertise to look for these types of problems, then we have problems in possibly--
I had asked the Governor -- I wrote a letter at that point about using the National Guard in that capacity. I'm talking about Wanaque -- our larger state facilities. Have they--
MS. HUGHES: I'm going to answer from a general perspective. In general, the utilities, and particularly the larger ones, do have regular training programs. With respect to do they have trained security guards, it varies. And that is part of the assessment that's undergoing.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: Okay. But it's being addressed.
MS. HUGHES: Oh, absolutely.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: Okay.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Any other questions at this point? (no response)
Commissioner, thank you very much for your testimony.
MS. HUGHES: Thank you.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: I'd like to call a representative of the Port Authority. Sue Ostergaard, I believe, is here. You can come forward.
First of all, Sue, we've known each other for a number of years. And I first want to extend my deepest sympathies and the sympathies of the members of this Committee to the Port Authority. The police chief was to be here but was called away by Governor Pataki and is in Albany today. But I hope that you'll convey to Chief Hall how deeply we feel about the losses that occurred. We know that many of the officers who were lost were residents of the State of New Jersey. And all of us have been to a variety of memorial services and prayer services. And that's always in our hearts and in our minds and in our prayers.
Let me preface everything by extending that.
S U E M U R P H Y O S T E R G A A R D: Thank you, Senator. I really do appreciate that.
Chief Morris was originally supposed to be here. He has been called away. Chief Hall, we thought, would be able to be here. He is not able to be here.
The Port Authority Police have been doing an extraordinary job. They're an extraordinary organization. I don't know that many know this, and probably I really wasn't authorized to say much about it, but there were 37 officers killed in the World Trade Center. Twenty-four were from New Jersey. That is the worst slaughter of American law enforcement ever in our history. It's a record that we hope is never broken or even approached again. But we do appreciate that.
If I may, I'd like to read the Chief's remarks. And again, we apologize that he is not here.
"Distinguished members, I want to thank you for this opportunity to speak before you today. But before I review with you the additional measures that have been initiated by the Port Authority Police Department to secure all our facilities, I want to express to you, on behalf of Chairman Lou Eisenberg, our Acting Executive Director, Ron Shiftan, and the Port Authority Police, our heartfelt thanks and gratitude for your unstinting support and many acts of kindness to the families of victims and the survivors of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
"We will never forget the heroic efforts of countless volunteers who have been working tirelessly to care for the relatives of those who perished or the thousands of volunteers who have worked around the clock at search and rescue operations at Ground Zero. The outpouring of sympathy and support, the innumerable donations of time, food, skills, and money for the victims and their families, has inspired us and steeled our resolve to secure and rebuild our future. We will be eternally grateful to you and to all of these men and women.
"In the days and weeks following the attack, the Port Authority Police have heightened security to ensure the availability and safety of our critical transportation network to the public and to provide for the efficient and safe transport of goods and materials. In order to accomplish this goal, all Port Authority Police personnel remain on 12-hour duty tours since the September 11 terrorist attacks, and all vacations have been canceled to provide additional manpower.
"Supplemental security posts are in place to protect critical areas at our facilities and daily aerial surveillance of airports, river crossing, and other sensitive areas are performed with police personnel using the Port Authority's Police helicopter. Waterside patrols have also been instituted at our two New York airports.
"More frequent commercial vehicle inspections are taking place at all river crossings, and we have augmented this with the support of other law enforcement agencies. Additional security has been provided through the assistance of several law enforcement agencies and the addition of the National Guard in specific areas.
"The Port Authority's Emergency Operations Center remains operational 24-7, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, to maintain contact and information flow with the two states and the ongoing alerts that have occurred since the initial attack.
"We have been fortunate to have many retired members of the Port Authority Police Department volunteer their time to assist us with the numerous police memorial services and tasks to support our businesses that do not require current law enforcement powers.
"Our personnel losses at the Port Authority were significant, and we are aggressively progressing our police recruit training plans to replace and supplement our police force.
"Furthermore, the security that I have outlined is augmented significantly by security that is not visible nor can it be discussed, by the very nature of its secrecy, in this Committee. Suffice it to say, it is significant and it is effective.
"In summation, security is the business and responsibility of everyone. We urge all citizens to be alert and aware and exercise caution and safety while driving or traveling. The Port Authority Police are working diligently to protect you and have been cooperating with and aided by Federal, State, and local law enforcement. The President has urged us to go back and work and resume a normal life. We are doing our utmost to make that possible for you.
"Once again, I thank you for this opportunity to speak to these issues. We will be happy to join in any efforts that will result in greater cooperation and security for all residents of our great bi-state region.
"Respectfully submitted, Chief Joseph Morris, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police, October 23."
SENATOR KOSCO: Thank you.
Any comments from any Senators? (no response) Anyone have any questions? (no response)
MS. OSTERGAARD: Thank you very much.
SENATOR KOSCO: Anne, who did he have next on those lists?
MS. STEFANE (Committee Aide): The Department of Health.
SENATOR KOSCO: The Department of Health.
Is anyone here from the Department of Health?
MS. BORRONE: Dr. DiFerdinando was called away due to one of the anthrax cases. So he is not going to be here.
MS. STEFANE: James McGarry. Is Jim McGarry here?
MS. BORRONE: No.
SENATOR KOSCO: The New Jersey Hospital Association. Is Gary Carter here?
G A R Y C A R T E R: Good afternoon.
I have a lengthy testimony that we've submitted, but I'll just go through an outline of what we've submitted in the interest of time.
I'm Gary Carter, and I'm the President and CEO of the 108-member New Jersey Hospital Association. I certainly applaud your efforts to facilitate this dialogue on the current status of New Jersey's disaster preparedness.
Like everyone, the health care industry has experienced a challenging 42 days since the attack on the World Trade Center. I'm here today to provide you with some insight on the role that New Jersey's hospitals played on September 11, the lessons we've learned from that event, how hospitals are dealing with bioterrorism preparedness, and what we are doing now and in the future to ensure that hospitals are constantly reevaluating and improving their preparedness.
September 11-- New Jersey hospitals and health care professionals proved their emergency preparedness when 60 hospitals treated more than 1000 patients injured in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. We can look to New Jersey's health care community for reassurance and embrace them with great pride. Never before have our hospitals been asked to answer such an important call to service.
More than 5000 victims streamed into our State, and they were initially triaged and cared for by an incredibly well prepared and committed network of physicians, nurses, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, social workers, and other health care professionals.
Within the new reality that has been defined by September 11, hospitals have been shifting their focus from preparing for the foreseeable to planning for the previously inconceivable. Hospitals are upgrading existing disaster plans, and they will continue to evolve to suit the individual needs of their communities. Throughout this process, there is a need for coordination of efforts between hospitals, community organizations, State and Federal government, and law enforcement.
Some concerns have already been defined as areas that require this type of coordination, effort, and attention, and they include: medical and pharmaceutical supplies, communication and notification, surveillance and detection, personal protection -- and here, again, hospital supply of gloves, for example, could be used up quite rapidly.
Hospital facilities needed capabilities: lockdown ability, auxiliary power, extra security are examples and then dedicated decontamination facilities--
Hospitals need a minimal capability and the ability to ramp up quickly for a larger event. Training and drills, which we're constantly involved in, and mental health resource is something I don't think anybody anticipated -- to look at what happens in an event like this.
And maybe, finally, something that needs to be discussed is patient confidentiality. One of the byproducts of September 11 is we knew who we were treating, but we couldn't tell because of patient confidentiality.
What we've already learned: another mass casualty incident could overwhelm the resources of most individual hospitals. The public sees hospitals as a vital resource for diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up for both physical and psychological care. And here again, there's been some discussion about having designated facilities. But what we've learned in the last two or three weeks, with anthrax, is that people go to the closest hospital. And even September 11, people were on the train home and then left the train to go to the closest hospital. So, having a designated facility doesn't quite answer the issues, but rather, all hospitals should be prepared.
To increase readiness for mass casualties, hospitals need to expand their focus in planning, including the scenario in which the hospital is the victim of a disaster. At this point, I don't think people have talked about the fact. But as we've been studying this, the hospital, as a disaster in a community, could really jeopardize everyone.
Readiness could be enhanced by identifying hospital workers who are retired or changed careers but could be trained as reserve staff.
Hospital readiness can be increased if State licensure bodies, working through the Federation of State Medical Boards, develop procedures allowing physicians licensed in one jurisdiction to practice in another under defined emergency conditions. Nursing licensure bodies could increase preparedness by adopting similar procedures or by adopting the "Nursing Compact" presently being implemented by several states.
Preparedness actives: all of New Jersey's hospitals have disaster plans that are routinely evaluated and tested. Bioterrorism, including the threat of anthrax, is incorporated in those plans. As a result of September 11, many facilities have developed specific procedures and protocols to manage and treat patients who have been affected or infected by anthrax.
Hospitals have met with local community and State and Federal agencies on their own and through the efforts of the Association. These meetings have focused on emergency preparedness, disease surveillance, testing, reporting, treatment, and getting access to pharmaceutical stockpiles in large quantities if necessary.
On October 12, the Association hosted a bioterrorism preparedness briefing where the Department of Health and State Police representatives had the opportunity to speak directly to over 250 hospital representatives.
The American Hospital Association's Chemical and Bioterrorism Preparedness Checklist, along with the Association of Practitioners of Infection Control's recommendations, have been disseminated by NJHA to all hospitals, with the recommendation that each facility appoint one person to head up their preparedness efforts. And on November 1, we will be convening a bioterrorism preparedness task force.
In conclusion, September 11 has, in many ways, redefined the focus of hospitals' roles in their communities. Never before has so much time and resources been dedicated to the challenges that are now before us. Discussion about the need to educate all providers on the signs and symptoms of anthrax and smallpox have become common in boardrooms. Hospitals are reevaluating their budgets, looking for ways to finance the construction of decontamination units outside of their emergency rooms.
All citizens, especially direct care providers, are dealing with the posttraumatic stress and mental health issues that have permeated our society. As this new role continues to evolve, there is a need for a continuation of efforts between hospitals, community organizations, State and Federal government, law enforcement, and all public health and direct care provider groups.
I applaud your efforts here today and thank you for this opportunity to share the recent experiences and future challenges confronting New Jersey's hospitals.
I'd be happy to answer any questions if there are any.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Thank you very much.
Any specific questions?
But I'll ask you not to go away, if you would be so kind.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: Yes, just a couple of questions. You may have even touched on it.
Can you describe, right now, the readiness of New Jersey hospitals in the event of a bioterrorism attack?
MR. CARTER: I don't think anybody's perfectly prepared, because we don't really understand the magnitude. But I believe we're actually very well prepared. We've been working closely with the State. The State's ahead of the curve, as you've heard already. So I think we're in good shape. It's not perfect. I don't want to--
SENATOR GIRGENTI: Yes. No, I understand. But I mean, there are-- You are addressing it, and you've been--
MR. CARTER: Yes, but something that's not understood a lot by the public is that we have emergency disaster preparedness plans in place that we have been practicing. And that's a part of that.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: And I may mention, also, that-- And the reason I asked you to stay where you were-- I was also going to ask Dr. Nancy Connell, who is the Scientific Director of Biodefense for UMDNJ, to join you here at the witness table. That way, in case we have questions that either or both can comment on, we'll have it.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: Yes, well, the other question I had is, how sophisticated -- maybe either one can -- how sophisticated or schooled are our physicians in recognizing these obscure diseases such as anthrax, smallpox, plague, and so forth?
N A N C Y C O N N E L L, Ph.D.: Can you repeat the question? I'm just settling in here.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: Yes. How sophisticated or schooled are our physicians in recognizing these obscure diseases such as anthrax, smallpox, or plague, and so forth?
DR. CONNELL: Well, I've commented many times that I think that -- on October 1, during the first releases of information that we were possibly under a bioweapons attack -- that every physician in this country and health care worker went back to their old microbooks and looked things up.
In addition, we've been thinking -- people have been thinking about bioterrorism for a long time. So this is not a big surprise to us. And I think that, certainly, New Jersey, as we've heard from the State Police, has been involved in the emergency medical response. The OEM has been involved in making sure that emergency physicians have periodic updates and new training to be aware of these threats.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: If I may, Mr. Chairman, I had a few questions for the Department of Health. They're not here.
If you can maybe answer them, if you feel comfortable answering them?
DR. CONNELL: We can try.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: They're not-- Obviously, they were pulled away.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Can I ask, Dr. Connell, if you have some testimony that you were prepared to present?
Might I ask if you just hold off the questions, and then we can ask them of both of our panelists.
DR. CONNELL: We've distributed a longer version of this. I'll just excerpt it.
We've had excellent testimony already from an impressive witness list, and we're only half way through, which actually has highlighted UMDNJ's response to the September 11 crisis, and so we won't discuss this here.
UMDNJ, of course, is a statewide system, probably the largest public health sciences university in the nation. And we have five campuses, three medical schools, schools of dentistry, nursing, health-related professions, public health, graduate biomedical sciences. We comprise an acute care hospital, three core hospitals, integrated behavior health care delivery system -- very important in the aftermath of September 11 -- and a statewide system for managed care, and affiliations with more than 100 health care and educational institutions statewide.
In addition, UMDNJ University Hospital heads a state-of-the-art Biosafety Level III clinical laboratory and basic research laboratory for the isolation and culture of clinical strains of TB and a basic research library for the study of pathogens, including such respiratory diseases as tuberculoses, anthrax, plague, tularaemia, and a number of viral diseases. We have Army funding for this research, which will be in progress in the next few months.
In addition, we have been asked by the Department of Health to assist in spillover. The Department of Health laboratories are swamped with samples that have to be tested for anthrax. And so we're in the process now of getting CDC clearance to assist in this overload.
In 1999, UMDNJ established a Center for Biodefense at the New Jersey Medical School. We have a three-pronged approach, including emergency response, which you've heard a lot about already, public health, and basic research.
Both University Hospital and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital have patient isolation rooms in place and in use for infectious airborne diseases. The clinical labs at all these hospitals are well-equipped, well-trained. Professional staff know how to deal with these pathogenic microorganisms.
Members of the UMD Emergency Response Team, which you've heard about, have participated in DOD-sponsored domestic -- DOD, Department of Defense-sponsored domestic preparedness training programs, which have included exercises in both chemical and biological accidents or releases.
And finally, our University Hospital EMS works directly with State Police and the Office of Emergency Management in these issues.
As far as basic research goes, we've known for-- This is now shifting from emergency short-term to a sort of long-term sense. This problem is not going to go away.
We've known for long that the release of a biological agent will not be a catastrophic event. And we've seen that now. Day by day, the news keeps coming.
Over an amount of weeks, patients will begin to arrive at emergency rooms, clinics, private doctors offices. We know that several other biological agents, in addition to anthrax, have been weaponized in somewhere between 10 and 12 states currently -- I mean, internationally.
The most likely bacterial agents are those causing tularemia, plague, and glanders. The most likely viral agents include smallpox, dengue, Hantavirus, ebola, and our own favorite, influenza, which we may see again.
All of these agents are much more difficult to prepare for intentional release than anthrax. So, in that sense we're lucky, because many of the other agents that I've listed are infectious, can be transmitted from patient to patient. Then we have a problem.
The traditional approach to identifying infectious agents causing disease is based on, as we've known and we've learned from reading the papers, is based on culture, on some molecular techniques -- culture in strains of infected tissues, specimens, blood samples, for example. Molecular techniques are also used, but all require the presence of the actual organisms.
Our grant from the Army is to develop a method of looking not for the organism itself, but to look at the patients, at the victims who are coming into the emergency room, and detecting from their immune response by analyzing the genes that are turned on in these patients, which organism they've been infected with. And this will be important in the future both in the sense of a public health tool but also in the event that some of these agents are released in this similar kind of insidious attack.
We received a congressional recommendation for Fiscal '00 for $1.3 million, a further $1.75 million for Fiscal '01, and we are in the process of beginning these experiments with nine different agents, seven of which are select agents, therefore they're Class A agents on the CDC and biological weapons treaty list of potential agents.
I can certainly discuss -- during, with questions -- some of our security measures that we've put in place, which were well under way long before September 11.
And our final component of that is public health. We now know that first responders remain in the front lines of the biological attacks. It's not just going to be the doctors. But along with medical workers, public health officers at all levels -- and now, sadly, our loyal postal workers-- And we, at UMDNJ, feel that we're uniquely poised to assist the State in long-term goals of carrying out these important preparations for our national defense, for example, updating our microbiology labs statewide, quantifying our antibiotics and pharmaceutical supplies, increased awareness among health workers, evaluation of CDC antibiotic stockpiles, the establishment of reliable surveillance procedures, 24-7 reporting capacity and evaluation in every segment, increased investigative staff available. Many of these were discussed, of course, by my colleague. And we're working cooperatively with the Department of Health and Senior Services to assist in the implementation of these urgent changes.
In summary, then, we're looking to the future. In the short-term, UMD's EMS, infectious disease experts, public health expertise, and lab resources will serve us well in the next few months in dealing with the current threat. Long-term, our basic research in chem- and bioagent detection, assistance to establish surveillance -- reliable surveillance systems, and training and education programs-- We offer these to the State of New Jersey.
Thanks very much.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Thank you, Dr. Connell.
To piggyback on something that Senator Girgenti was starting to get to, what sort of communications system do we have in place, currently, to take the fruits of your research and alert providers of medical care, whether they be hospital or individual doctors? I mean, how do we reach out to them to make sure they know what to look for or to ask whether or not they're seeing this, that, or the other thing?
DR. CONNELL: Well, I would say that the Department of Health would-- It's too bad he's not here, because I know that there are some very specific plans to institute new software systems to actually organize and collate, on a 24-7 basis, real time, the increase in symptoms, for example, to try and follow and do some sort of real-time epidemiological surveys of what's happening on a statewide system.
But as far as our basic research, this is a long-term goal. This will take three to five years to actually have something -- Army-support, long-term basic research.
MR. CARTER: Let me just add here that that really starts at the county health departments and the State Department of Health all working together with the hospitals in this research here to disseminate the information. And I think that's pretty effective. Obviously, it's going to get better, but that's where we start.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Well, for instance-- The reason I ask that is I had a situation in my own family, where just a few weeks ago I, after attending a variety of events that made me a little concerned, because all of a sudden I was developing a cold that was a little different than the cold that I might normally have -- it had a low grade fever associated with it, which is unusual for me. And because it was unusual and because of the nature of what we do as public officials, I went to my doctor and said, "Hey, look. I know this will sound silly," and this is before it became not so silly, "could you do a test for anthrax?" And what she did was she took a throat culture. And yet, every time I hear discussions of testing for anthrax, we're talking about a nose swab. I guess, as Senator Girgenti mentioned, what-- Is there more that needs to be done in order to develop a communications network so that providers of service know not only what to look for, but actually report on findings as quickly as possible?
MR. CARTER: I think-- Obviously, as you said, this is early on in the process. And as the Doctor said -- Dr. Connell said, it's our belief that everybody now is very aware of this, and they're going back and researching it. Obviously, the first person that this might happen to, a physician or hospital, might not recognize all the symptoms. Remember, this is a lot like the flu. So, that's what you would think, this was the flu.
I mean, unbeknownst to a lot of people, 20,000 people die from the flu every year. So there you've got physicians who are particularly attentive to that issue. And this is secondary. Now, I think it's right at the top, but it's happened within the last week or two.
DR. CONNELL: If I can just comment that the CDC is really taking the lead on this, and there have been-- Their Web site, which is a marvel -- and I advise all of you to go see it, it's a wonderful Web site -- and it's, I would say, the most reliable medical information that we can get -- is updated hourly.
In addition, there are now televised and computer-based interactive educational programs coming out of CDC on the major threats, on the major agents, anthrax, certainly, but also smallpox, flu, tularemia, and plague.
So the CDC, uncharacteristically, devoted one of its weekly publications to exactly this, to recognizing symptoms of these various diseases with advice to immediate action.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Senator Girgenti.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: As I said, I wanted to ask these of the Department of Health. If you can help us shed some light on it. This one, I think, the Hospital Association--
How prepared are New Jersey's hospitals, right now, in terms of their supply of vaccines and medications, so that diseases which are used as weapons -- to be treated -- to treat these diseases, which are used on us as weapons? And what is being done to bolster that supply? Does anybody have-- And how far along are we in planning and stockpiling the vaccines and medications?
J O H N C. E K A R I U S: Yes, Senator.
My name is John Ekarius. I'm the Vice President of Public Affairs for the University, and I can speak to that issue, I think.
SENATOR KOSCO: I can't hear what you're saying.
MR. EKARIUS: I think I can speak to Senator Girgenti's question.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: Do you want me to--
MR. EKARIUS: No. Certainly, hospitals throughout the state -- Mr. Carter can comment on this -- have what might be considered nominal supplies of antibiotics and drugs available. However, the Federal government, for the past several years, has been developing stockpiles of needed antibiotics and are prepared to deliver them, as has been publicly reported in what are called push-packages. And these would be flown to an area and distributed through governmental sources either through the leadership at the New Jersey State Police, distributed through the National Guard to hospitals in the region of the state or the entire state, to provide those for the appropriate types of malady.
I don't know, Gary, if you want--
MR. CARTER: I think the problem here is we can't have everything in stock, so we have to have a network. And, obviously, if something happened in one hospital, everybody else would know about it. And if they needed to get supplies to them, the University's lab would be involved. There's good coordination, I'd have to say, between the hospitals. And I think the Chairman mentioned before, in a competitive environment, are we really working together? But the fact is, our number one focus is the patient. And as soon as there's a problem, a unique problem, everybody rallies to that pretty effectively.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: So you would say that we're pretty far along in stockpiling these vaccines and medications because of what is occurring now?
MR. CARTER: We're not stockpiling medications, because the Federal government has them and will ship them if, for example--
SENATOR GIRGENTI: We can meet our needs.
MR. CARTER: We can meet our needs. We have them. Right now, I don't know of anybody who is saying, in any hospital where someone has shown up with symptoms of anthrax, where we weren't able to get them the medication.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: And another question is, what are your recommendations about taking the flu vaccine, for instance? People should take it ahead of time so as not to mask, for instance, symptoms of anthrax?
MR. CARTER: Yes, we absolutely have been saying publicly for a couple of years, if you're elderly or have some unique health conditions, you should take the flu vaccine, but people don't. I mean, I'm thinking about myself. I didn't take it. We always think of ourselves as we're never going to get hit with the flu until last year, and there was a shortage last year, and there could be a shortage this year. So, if you have constituents who are elderly or are frail, you should encourage them to take it.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: And we will have-- I'm assuming we're going to have an increased demand for vaccinations this year. Can we meet that demand?
MR. CARTER: I'm sure that we can, but the question is for what?
SENATOR GIRGENTI: Now, this is-- I know you know it's in the papers. And I jotted down a few notes that I was thinking about.
We've seen that there's the two types of anthrax that we've heard about over the media: inhalation anthrax and cutaneous anthrax. One is the skin, one is breathing in of the spores. What do, from what we're seeing -- and obviously I don't know if you have the answer-- I heard something on the news on the way in here. How are people being exposed to this? To get the inhalation anthrax, you would actually have to breath it in, or was there some kind of device? They're saying that the mail houses are now-- The post office is using some kind of device that's throwing this stuff up into peoples' faces, for instance, because to get the inhalation, you would have to really breath it in, right? I don't know if I'm being clear, but--
DR. CONNELL: No, no, you're fine. That's a good question.
There are a number of things to address. The first is-- We'll start with the last first, which is the problem with the post offices. And I think, right now, as my colleague has pointed out, they're speculating exactly how the spores are leaving these envelopes. Are they partially sealed? We don't know. But remember, at least 8000 spores are required. It's a heavy dose. If the formulation is appropriate, it will move in a way that it floats in the air. So if it's concentrated enough, and it's prepared properly, it will float in the air and then can be inhaled.
Cutaneous and inhalation anthrax are the exact same organism, exact same presentation -- preparation. The difference is the route. And so when the spores are inhaled -- nice, warm lungs, lots of stuff to eat, great temperature -- the spores germinate and begin to grow and begin to produce toxin quickly. The toxin is what's dangerous, not the organism. And that is exactly why treating inhalation anthrax after symptoms have begun to appear is so difficult, because we don't care about the bug at that point. We need to inactivate the toxin. So antibiotics don't matter. Antibiotics act only on the bug.
As far as cutaneous, same agent, same preparation, but introduced through some break in the skin -- the tiniest, tiniest, little abrasion, a scrape against your clothing practically. A few spores can then germinate. They take a lot longer to start to divide and make enough toxin to cause symptoms, and that's why it's much more treatable and a less dangerous form of the disease.
So we know a lot about the size of particles that are required for infection. We know down to the micron size. A lot of this comes from information from the Russian Biopreparat program. Ken Alibek, who defected in 1992, had a lot to tell us. We know from our earlier work in the 50s in this country, and we know a lot from looking at other respiratory diseases like tuberculosis, that the size of the particles is crucial for infectivity. And so, being able to control the size is key in preparing these preparations.
The size of an actual spore is less than a half-micron-by-a-half-micron. It's a perfectly round little spore. But these have to be gathered together and prepared and organized in some carrier to be the correct size, not too big and not too small. If the size of these clumps of particles of spores is too large, our respiratory protection device, the hairs in our nose and so forth, will clean them out. If they're too small, they'll just float away.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: I don't know if you know this answer. How does a person get inhalation anthrax if they have not, for instance, opened the envelope?
DR. CONNELL: Well, I said that in the beginning. We don't know. And this is under investigation. And probably that information is not being revealed to us. But it's likely--
I think my colleague has a comment.
But it's likely that these envelopes may be treated and ripped at the ends and so forth.
MR. EKARIUS: Are compacted.
MR. CARTER: The speculation is the mail handling equipment.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: Right, the machine equipment.
MR. CARTER: We just don't know yet. That's the speculation.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: Right.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: But there's-- Is it fair to say, however, that we really haven't seen a widespread introduction of any chemical or biological agent? Is that a fair statement?
DR. CONNELL: So far. This is an outbreak under control.
MR. CARTER: Let me--
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Senator Furnari.
MR. CARTER: Before you do that, can I add one other thing that was mentioned? The Association's Web site, as well, is some place you can refer your constituents to, because we link to other places. If they have questions about some of these issues, they can go onto our Web site, and it will link them to other places that will help them out.
DR. CONNELL: And the CDC Web site is CDC.BT.gov.
SENATOR FURNARI: Thank you.
Now, I'm reading, and I think you touched upon it just briefly before -- can you hear me better now? (affirmative response) -- okay -- excuse me -- that we have been, or certainly the Federal government has been working on this idea of bioterrorism for quite some time. And as I understand it, maybe a couple of years ago, we received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control for dealing with response to the threat of bioterrorism. Is that part of the programs that you've worked on?
MR. EKARIUS: Yes, Senator. I believe two years ago the State of New Jersey had received a grant, and the City of Newark was one of the recipients, along with several other cities in New Jersey, to coordinate their emergency management systems, their police, their fire, with health care providers. And in our case, the University Hospital provides the emergency medical service for the City of Newark, the Port Authority port and airport, as well as the City of Orange. So our people at the University have been very involved in the development of some of the emergency management response tools. And I'm sorry that Captain Hayden had to leave, because his office has participated closely in the development of those protocols, as well as the Department of Health.
In my prior experience in State government and the Treasury, I had the opportunity to work with the State Police on emergency management. I don't think they've gotten enough credit for how well things actually worked in this state on September 11. It was actually very remarkable. It was remarkable how well things worked.
It's impossible to balance the risk against everything. I think you've heard today that they're trying very hard. It is a national response program being coordinated through the Department of Health and Human Services at that Federal level -- the NIH, the CDC -- to provide large scale, as they call them, push packages.
Even on September 11-- It's not well known, but during that event the CDC had dispatched chemical and biological warfare antidotes to the New York region to be prepared if a biological attack had, in fact, specifically accompanied the terror attacks on the towers.
SENATOR FURNARI: It seems that the Federal legislation that went along with this designated three areas in New Jersey as being cities vulnerable to bioterrorist attack. Are you familiar with any of that?
MR. EKARIUS: Are you speaking three areas geographically?
SENATOR FURNARI: Yes, Newark, Jersey City, and Middlesex County. Are you familiar-- Why would those areas be more susceptible?
MR. CARTER: It might be population density. That's the only thing--
MR. EKARIUS: I would defer, but I believe that the publicly acknowledged number of sites in the state is somewhere around 1500 targets of opportunity.
SENATOR FURNARI: In the Newark program, from what you see-- I mean, obviously, maybe in retrospect, we all say, "We wish we all had some more money." But the Newark program has been effective in training our physicians? That was the thrust of all these things?
MR. EKARIUS: It was really an exercise to help get police and fire officials and EMS and the Department of Health officials at both the State and at the city level to start to work together and cooperate, I think, as the Captain mentioned. Just being in a room and being able to exercise and conduct table-top drills with folks helps you work out the bugs -- no pun intended -- for future incidents.
And it's important to bear in mind that, as Dr. Connell spoke about, there are a range of biological options available with a degree of severity as to their ability to be weaponized. So, it's hard for a local community hospital or even a large urban teaching hospital, such as our's in Newark, to be fully prepared across every part of the spectrum. That's what the public health system is designed to back up and provide.
But I would echo just the one other point that Mr. Carter made. If we have an event, an exogenous event, all hospitals are going to be impacted, not just the regional teaching hospital. So the degree that the Department has -- the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services has been attempting to develop the communications platforms, the education platform, the surveillance platform, is something that's very much under way within the community of providers right now within the Department actively. The University's own Center for Biodefense is eligible for additional Federal funding, being coordinated by Congressman Frelinghuysen right now. So, a lot of resources are coming to bear on this point, we think, very rapidly.
SENATOR FURNARI: And one last question. I know that this is a very broad one. Are there recommendations that you can tell us -- give to us, as legislators, what we might do? Understand -- and you're receiving the same kinds of fears-- I know that Senator Robertson and Senator Girgenti pointed out -- because we all fear these at every minute. Are we doing the right thing when we receive a piece of mail? We all have children and family members who have recently been ill. And when do you panic? When do you not? Are there things that we should be doing as legislators to help in this process of eliminating this kind of unnecessary fear and maybe making sure that we have the most prudent decisions made?
MR. CARTER: I actually think one of the things we have to do is not be fearful, because I think that works to their advantage. We're all just constantly on edge.
Dr. Connell said this is a problem under control. And it's lost, I think, sometimes in the media that we confined it. It's tragic. It's absolutely tragic, the people who have died or are affected by this. But it is under control. And it would take such an enormous effort. You heard some discussion about that with the water. To really make this effective, we shouldn't panic. We should go about our lives. I mean, if you get sick, you need to see your health care provider. You do. Nobody is saying you shouldn't go. But you should get a flu shot, for openers.
DR. CONNELL: If I could just add that I think the most important antidote to fear is information -- good, reliable information. And I think that all of us as educators and legislators should make a concerted effort to quote information only from CDC, not from CNN.
MR. EKARIUS: I would just add one final point, Senator.
We need to think about hospitals as a public utility. And events over the past 40-some days have demonstrated their utility to society as opposed to how we've sometimes looked at them in the past. And I'll leave it at that.
MR. CARTER: I'd like to add one more thing. I think one of our biggest focuses now is what do we do about our staff, because people are coming in presenting themselves. We need to prepare our staff and protect them, because if they're not protected, that impacts the rest of the community. So that's a place we're putting a lot of energy now to help our staff deal with these issues.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: And, of course, that is one of the reasons for these hearings, as well.
Senators, anybody else? (no response)
Thank you very much.
MR. EKARIUS: Thank you very much.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Okay. We have a couple of other witnesses. And I know some of our Senators are pressed for time, as well.
I'd like to call Chief Joe Forbes -- Chief Joseph Forbes, Passaic County Office of Emergency Management, who can, perhaps, give us a little feedback about the local level and how the counties fit into the overall scheme of things.
C H I E F J O S E P H F O R B E S: Good afternoon.
On behalf of the Board of Chosen Freeholders of Passaic County and along with Committee Chairman Senator Robertson and our other home county Senator, John Girgenti, I would like to say how pleased we are to welcome the Committee to Passaic County -- and Senator Furnari -- I beg your pardon, sir.
SENATOR FURNARI: City of Passaic is within the county. (laughter)
CHIEF FORBES: Absolutely. We give credit to everyone.
At any rate, welcome to all.
I'll be very brief in my statement today. I'm going to hit over some of the highlights that the County of Passaic has done throughout this whole -- it seems like an ongoing, long episode, but we have been making preparations for quite a long time.
In the county in the year 2000, month of May, we conducted a county-wide exercise at the county court house complex -- very extensive, county-wide, weapons of mass destruction, terroristic scenario. It was quite successful. There were many lessons learned. That was the initial wide-scale exercise that we did at the county level.
We followed up later that year -- last fall -- with a similar exercise at one of our local water treatment plants. I won't go into any specifics, but again, there were many lessons learned, and it was based on a weapons of mass destruction terrorism type scenario.
During the year of 2001, the county prepared and developed a county-wide terrorism incident annex, and it was submitted to the State Police -- Captain Hayden's office, Sergeant Hoptay -- was approved and was put in place as one of the models here in the north region of New Jersey. We're continuing to take another hard look at that particular annex in light of these developments that occurred since September 11.
The county office of emergency management has taken the initiative to develop a hospital emergency room operations plan. The five hospitals here in Passaic County have been meeting. We have another meeting scheduled within the next couple of weeks to begin and continue this planning process. We intend to develop a specific hospital emergency room operations plan dealing specifically with emergency management issues. We have great support from the five hospitals here in Passaic County and hope to, again, have that as a model for statewide development.
Captain Hayden discussed earlier the ITIPs, the identification of vulnerable and very important facilities here in the county. We did complete that. And again, that's a living document. It's a living project. We're up to about close to 60 sites that we have identified that require a hard look by those of us in emergency management in police, fire, and EMS planning to take a look at and be prepared for.
And again, it's constantly under review. I've asked the municipal coordinators, my counterparts at the municipal level, as early as September of this year, to take a look at those listings that are within their jurisdictions and to pass the information up to us at the county level so that we can, together, develop a more intensive look at those sites that may need further protection.
Along with the county's terrorism -- weapons of mass destruction annex, I have charged the 16 municipalities of Passaic County to also develop that plan in Fiscal Year 2001. I gave that task to the coordinators in the month of September, and already, I have one in from West Milford. And it will be an outstanding plan, I'm sure. It will probably be the model for the rest of the county to follow.
We have met at the county's LEPC, Local Emergency Planning Committee. I have convened three separate meetings since the initiation of these anthrax -- that have occurred throughout the state, the county, and the United States. We've been developing safety and security issues for the county workers for the mail handling. Some of the procedures have been implemented already. Some equipment is being acquired to further enhance the county sheriff's departments who, along with the Health Department and other agencies, make the county workers and the handling of county mail within the Passaic County government safe for all to handle.
Essentially, that's a synopsis of some of the activities that we've done at the county level. I would like to express some needs that we perceive at the county level. And I believe that this Committee is going to be able to assist us with them.
Specifically, from the Health Department -- the State Department of Health -- the testing and the turnaround of any suspected substances, particularly the anthrax. At the county, we were willing to contract with private laboratories or hospital laboratories to do our own testing. And we discovered and learned that that is not possible, that only the State Board of Health laboratories are permitted to do that. And the only one outside of the state -- the 50 states is the Mayo Clinic, and they are not available for us at the county level. So we were willing to actually contract with any private concern or any public or private hospital to do the testing, but it is not there.
So, with that in mind, when a specimen is sent down to the State laboratory, there's a 48- to 72-hour testing period where these substances have to be scientifically cultivated in a laboratory setting. So there is a built-in time factor that we're all aware of.
I would ask that the Committee take a look at that. And if the State lab could be enhanced to be able to handle the volume of specimens that are being sent in from all over the state -- and whatever you could do to assist that laboratory, it would gratefully benefit us at the local level.
Captain Hayden, in that conference call that he alluded to last week-- I think the count, at that time, was up to around 270-some specimens that were in there. And, of course, these are very detailed and highly scientific tests when it hits the laboratory. So it's something that does not happen in 45 minutes. You're looking at a several-hour period where all of the scientists at the laboratory go to work on it and then put it in for the cultivation period, which is 48 to 72 hours. So whatever you could do to enhance that capability of the State lab would be greatly appreciated.
One other request regarding the State Department of Health and Human Services laboratory, when the results are known at the laboratory, the procedure has been to directly notify the municipalities. I would like to ask that the county office of environmental health be included in that notification. It's most important that the county be aware of it, because we are the responding agency with the Health Department, along with the sheriff's department.
Senator Robertson, you'll recall, when you were on the freeholder board, that at least five of the Passaic County municipalities contract with the City of Paterson for local health services. So we need to reach up one further step to the county level so that we have it at a broad area of knowledge so that the county is able to respond and be able to assist the municipalities and get the word back.
Some of the documentation and notices I've received through our local county health department, in conjunction with notices that they've received from the Centers for Disease Control out of Atlanta-- We know that they're taking a hard look at the CDC for what they call a smart ticket. It's a field testing device similar to a litmus paper test that we recall from our high school chemistry.
We realize that it's not a 100 percent accurate test, but it is a tool for the incident commanders, those people who are out there in the field facing these hoax threats. And so far, all of them in Passaic County have been hoaxes. However, it's a tool that's necessary.
I'll give you three general examples of incidents that have occurred in Passaic County since the beginning of this anthrax -- whole episode. We had a large high school with 2000 -- 2000 students were evacuated because there was a report of a white powder brought into the school. So we had 2000 students, as well as the professional staff and support staff of this high school, waiting for the sheriff's hazmat team -- the Wayne hazmat team and the county health department and the local health department to make a determination. That was not possible at the scene because the tools are not present.
One of our largest central post offices, immediately after that -- several days later -- received a similar threat. All of the mail handling-- All of the operations of this very large central post office had stopped while this testing went on. Of course, we have the Federal, the State, the county, and municipal-- (train passing)
I'll wait for the train to pass through.
All of these agencies trying to assist the incident commander and to make sure that the post office is safe to go back to handle the mail--
And then one further instance -- a large office building located here in Passaic County -- similar type of threat -- 600 to 700 occupants of this mid-to high-rise building here in Passaic County had to be evacuated.
With these three incidents that I have enumerated, where between 3000 and 4000, maybe 5000, have been interrupted in their daily lives or daily work and all of those that they service: the office building, the educational facility, and the mail facility. So, what we're asking for, at the local level, is that the State Department of Health along with the Centers for Disease Control take a hard look at the tools that are available. And if they're acceptable at those levels, get them out to us at the county and municipal level.
All we're asking for is that tool so that the local incident commander can make a reasonable decision. We realize that it's not going to be 100 percent correct, but right now they don't have any of that type of testing ability at their fingertips.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: And when you say tools, chief, you're talking about the ability to field test.
CHIEF FORBES: It's commonly called the smart ticket, Senator. I describe it similar to a litmus test -- litmus paper test. Of course, it's much more involved than that, in that it needs trained people, which the county health department along with the sheriff's department are capable of doing.
We have some tools available, but right now it has to be released with approval from the State Department of Health and along with the support of the Centers for Disease Control, which is the Federal agency.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: What is your understanding of why private laboratories are not able to perform, for instance, anthrax testing? Are they prohibited from doing so, or don't they have the sophistication to do so?
CHIEF FORBES: It's the way the laboratories have been developed, I believe, Senator, throughout the United States that the State labs are the only ones that are capable. And I don't know whether it's the prohibitive issue or not, but I think the capability at this time rests solely with the State laboratories, and the one other one that was identified to me was the Mayo Clinic.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: I have to talk to my doctor. Not only did they take a throat culture, but there wasn't a lab that could actually do the test.
Any other questions from members of the--
SENATOR BUCCO: Just the smart cards, Mr. Chairman.
They are available through the CDC?
CHIEF FORBES: They're available through private companies that supply them. We're aware of the companies. They come out of the state of Maryland. But right now, the State Department of Health is not authorizing their use at the local and county level for testing.
SENATOR BUCCO: As a regulation of the State Health Department.
CHIEF FORBES: As a policy--
SENATOR BUCCO: Policy.
CHIEF FORBES: --at the present time, I believe. Yeah.
SENATOR BUCCO: Okay. Thank you.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: What is their stated reason for that?
CHIEF FORBES: Pardon, sir?
SENATOR ROBERTSON: What is the Department's stated reason for not permitting that?
CHIEF FORBES: I don't have that answer for you.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Oh, okay.
SENATOR GIRGENTI: Joe, just quickly. In terms of the utilities, are you involved in that, too, Wanaque?
CHIEF FORBES: Yes, I have a note here, Senator, that you had brought it up earlier. And as you know, in Passaic County, we have the Wanaque Reservoir, which is a State-owned and State-run facility. We have several municipal-owned water facility treatment and reservoir locations. They do need assistance at the local level in protecting them with security. They have on-site security forces, some of them. I don't know whether others do not have it, but certainly the local police departments are stressed and stretched to provide that level of security.
And, Senator, I believe that we both agree that it should be at a very high level of security. Whatever the State Police or the National Guard could do to enhance the local capability would, certainly, ease the workload of the local police and fire departments.
Along with that issue, I noticed in the preliminary information on the agenda here, airport security. I do know that the National Guard has been deployed to the very large airports. However, there are some small general aviation airports throughout the state. Here in Passaic County, we have one up in Greenwood Lake. It's important to take a look at the security measures that are in place there and what can be done to further enhance that security.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Any other questions? (no response)
Chief, thank you very much, as always.
CHIEF FORBES: All right, Senator. Thank you for inviting me.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: It's good to see you again.
CHIEF FORBES: Welcome to Passaic County anytime.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Okay. We have two additional witnesses who've asked to testify.
The first is Tom Metzler.
Is Tom here?
Give my regards to Bob Gordon when you see him, the former mayor of Fair Lawn.
T H O M A S M. M E T Z L E R: Chairman Robertson, Senators, on behalf of my consulting firm, Emergency Management Advisors, I'd like to thank you for allowing us to testify here today.
For the purpose of introduction, my name is Tom Metzler. I have 30-plus years in emergency services, both volunteer and career -- EMS, fire, hazardous materials, emergency management, and police communications. I presently hold the CEM, Certified Emergency Management designation, which is the only federally recognized certification in emergency management. There are less than 900 people that have that certification.
I'm not here today to promote my consulting firm. I want to assure you. But what I do want to tell you is that we were hired by one of the major insurance organizations, following Tropical Storm Floyd, to do an assessment of local emergency management agencies in 40 municipalities in New Jersey.
I must tell you, with some pride, that I am a local emergency management coordinator in the Borough of Fair Lawn. And I say that with much pride, and I always make a point to mention it, because I can assure you I would not have the level of expertise in emergency management if it were not for the commitment of the taxpayers and the numerous mayors and councils that I've served over the years.
This insurance organization asked us to assess the relative vulnerability of each of their communities and then to evaluate the capabilities of their emergency management programs and identify any specific areas of weakness.
The approach that we took was to administer a detailed survey to the local officials and then to conduct follow-up interviews with the emergency management coordinators, along with the risk managers.
I should point out that we did not do an assessment of their response capabilities, but rather, we looked for the quality of the emergency operation plans, which Captain Hayden alluded to earlier, compliance with laws governing training and certification, knowledge of the communities vulnerabilities, effectiveness of their public warning systems, and resources involved in emergency management--
What we found was that nearly all the towns relied on volunteer or part-time emergency management coordinators, who were all very dedicated to their missions but have been provided little or no training.
I should point out to you that we have a number of communities where we have assigned a task to police officers, but this is yet another task that has been assigned to their already heavy workload. Despite laws requiring every community to establish emergency planning committees, or the LEPC, which Captain Hayden alluded to earlier, many towns have little more than paper organizations. Only five percent of the organizations that we spoke to hold regular LEPC meetings.
Many of the emergency plans that were examined were found to be flawed. About half of them relied on outdated information. Twenty percent had not been disseminated to police and firefighters.
And for those of you who don't understand how the emergency plan is established, there is a series of annexes which identify all the different services in the community. And what we found was that while upper management, in fact, were doing the work and putting the plans in place, that the planning that was done was not getting down to the field responder.
We found that risks such as transportation corridors and special vulnerability, such as schools and hospitals, have been overlooked.
When surveyed, half the communities indicated that they had not conducted a drill in over a year. Most of the communities have no effective means of transmitting an evacuation alert. And let me just touch on that for a moment.
While many of the communities identified their civil defense sirens -- I think you all are familiar with those, a mechanical siren -- 80 percent said that they would rely on those sirens as their means of early notification to their residents.
But when we pushed the subject and asked if their -- how they expected that their residents would respond to the activation of those sirens, many of them admitted that they felt that, in reality, the residents would be confused by the sirens being used for a routine fire call. And I ask each one of you that may have that means of notification in your own community, if you heard the sirens, would you know what you're expected to do?
Emergency planning for schools rarely go beyond the traditional fire drill. There were no plans to move or shelter the students off site. Hypothetical question, evacuation of a school in February, what is the plan to account for these children and remove them from site?
Half the towns surveyed did not consider sheltering beyond their own boarders. Such plans would not address large-scale emergencies.
And most disturbing, nearly two-thirds of the communities in the sample spend less than $5000 annually on emergency planning. Inefficient and ineffective training in drills.
These were some of the recommendations. And I'd like to point out to you that this survey was not done as a result of the World Trade Center. It was done as a result of Tropical Storm Floyd and was completed about 18 months after that particular event.
Amongst the things that we recommended to our client was that every municipality should analyze its own vulnerabilities and those of its neighbors. We did find communities that had large chemical facilities in their neighbors communities -- in their neighbor communities -- and yet had no plans in place on how they would evacuate their own residents -- and conduct a detailed assessment of its emergency plan.
That assessment should include natural and technological hazards and vulnerability to terrorism, develop prioritized list of actions to mitigate hazards, and strengthen emergency management capabilities. The plans for their schools should encompass evacuation, transportation, and sheltering and should be a coordinated part of the emergency plan.
The communities need to strengthen their public alert capabilities. Dedicated sirens to emergencies would avoid confusion with fire calls. And I should point out that there are new technologies available to us today which allow us to notify residents at a rate of 15,000 per hour through the use of telephone notifications.
I should point out to you that I know of no single community alerting system that does not have its flaws. The use of wide area PA systems is the latest technology, in that it's no longer vulnerable to loss of power failure or telephone service.
We're required by law to conduct one drill or training exercise per year, but as I indicated earlier, that's not happening. And amongst our recommendations was that these communities start doing this.
In the long term -- and I really do believe that this is where the State Legislature needs to get involved -- the municipalities need to invest in training. Elected officials and senior staff are generally unaware of their emergency management responsibilities. The investment in technical training for emergency corresponders and first responders will pay a high dividend.
I should point out to you that in one particular case in the survey -- the very last question in the survey -- we asked the emergency management coordinators that we interviewed if there was one thing that you would like to see come out of this, what would it be? Now, there's a broad-based question. One of the disturbing answers was, "A desk and a file cabinet that I could do my work in."
We believe that a relatively small investment will yield immediate dividends.
Every municipality should organize an effective emergency planning committee, which will draw emergency agencies, staff, local industry, and press.
I'd like to point out to you, as you will see in the handout -- in my résumé, that I had been selected to represent the United States in an international delegation to work with the Italians following the mudslides in Sarno. And I said with some pride earlier, that I am a local coordinator.
I would point out to you that while we were the guests of the Italian government, our need and our airfare had to be paid by us, those that were the representatives. In my community, the industry that's represented in the local emergency planning committee felt that what I would learn by being part of that delegation was worth them investing in my plane ticket to be there. I think that's a classic case of the relationship that we need to make in the emergency management field with local industries and businesses.
Municipal emergency plans need to be updated annually. Now, I will point out to you that most communities do go back and review their emergency plan. However, I will tell you that a number of the plans that we reviewed were signed off by people that are no longer in office.
In closing, I would just like to say that I am a member of the New Jersey Emergency Management Association. And I know that there is a Senate bill, presently in committee, which specifically addresses whether the emergency management coordinator should be a resident in the community that he belongs. And I must tell you that this is where I take a step away from the Association that I belong to and support that bill. I know that they're opposed to that, but if you believe that emergency management is a profession, and certainly by the testimony that you've heard here today, I'm sure you do, we cannot have people on the local level that, every three years, could lose their job, because that's the length of the appointment. It's three years. And you must be a resident of the community.
So, hypothetically, an emergency management coordinator who has invested 10 or 11 years of training -- at the end of three years sees a need to move into a different community, effectively, would have to leave his position.
That concludes my remarks.
I'd be glad to answer any questions if you have them.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: So the legislation you're talking about would relieve the coordinator of that obligation to live within the community?
MR. METZLER: That's correct, sir.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Are there any questions from the Senators? (no response)
Thank you very much.
MR. METZLER: Thank you so much.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Our final witness is Howard Meyer, from the New Jersey First Aid Council.
Thank you for coming forward. We appreciate your input.
H O W A R D M E Y E R: Thank you, Senator.
Senator, I'd like to thank you and the members of your Committee for giving me the opportunity to represent the New Jersey State First Aid Council here today and give testimony.
I'm sure every member on the Committee, including the aides that are here, may even know my name or know the work that you have done for the volunteers in this past legislative service. I want you to know all our members know it, and we thank you.
I'm Howard Meyer. I'm Chairman of the Legislative Committee for the New Jersey State First Aid Council. I want to just give you some information and let you know exactly what the volunteers' role was in September 11 and the days following that.
First, a little bit about our organization. The New Jersey State First Aid Council represents over 430 volunteer EMS squads in New Jersey. It is the largest such organization of volunteer EMS units in the country. Our membership includes not only the emergency medical units that serve most of the communities in New Jersey but also include support groups such as specialized industrial squads, heavy rescue units, water rescue, and search and rescue organizations, all of which are volunteer.
Our organization and its members work constantly to improve the services provided to their communities and to make sure that they are always ready to respond, no matter what the situation. It is this philosophy to be prepared and always ready that enabled the volunteer EMS professionals in New Jersey to respond as effectively as they did on September 11.
Responding to large-scale emergencies is not new to the council -- to the squads of the council. Some of the emergencies that we've responded to over the last decade include the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Tropical Storm Floyd in 1999, and the devastating floods that occurred in northern New Jersey in 2000.
However, none of us could have ever imagined the response that would be needed on September 11. The chairman of our mobilization committee, who could not be here today with me, Mr. Frank Goodstein, also serves as the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management Basic Life, or BLS coordinator for the State. It was he and his team that oversaw and coordinated the EMS response that day with communications through the Regional Emergency Medical Communications System, or REMS, as has been referred to by previous testimony, in Newark.
On that day, all of New Jersey saw the results of the Council's membership ongoing training and saw just how much of an asset the volunteer EMS professionals are to New Jersey.
I believe the best way to tell you of the volunteers response on that day is to start by using a time line. At 8:45 a.m., a highjacked passenger liner crashes into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. At 8:51, Mr. Goodstein, our mobilization chairman, receives his first unofficial notification of the initial crash. At 8:59, he received the official notification from REMS. And at 9:03, the second airliner crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
Between 8:59 and 9:25, information was provided from REMS to Mr. Goodstein and the New Jersey State First Aid Council's mobilization team members regarding what was happening in New York. In addition, REMS contacted the other regional communication centers to obtain information on the number and type of beds available in New Jersey hospitals.
At 9:32 a.m., a request to activate all EMS resources was received. The request for assistance was received by REMS for the New York Fire Department. This request resulted in the activation of the EMS mutual aid agreement between University Hospital in Newark and the New York City Fire Department. The agreement had been entered into following the Trade Center bombing in 1993. The New Jersey State First Aid Council was a key participant in this agreement. This is due to the fact that their member squads are expected to provide most of the BLS ambulances needed to respond to any large scale incident in New York City or in New Jersey.
This request resulted in the official activation of the Council's statewide mobilization team, and volunteer squads all over the state began to be alerted by their local dispatch agencies. Within one hour, responding volunteer EMS resources had been routed to Chelsey Pier in New York City, to the New Jersey Transit PATH and commuter ferry terminal in Hoboken, to Exchange Place in Jersey City, to the New York Waterway Ferry docking facilities in Weehawken, Liberty State Park in Jersey City, Atlantic Highlands Community Ferry docking facilities, and to Meadowlands Stadium, which served as a staging area for EMS units so they could be dispatched wherever additional EMS units were needed.
Most of the squads mobilized were sent to sites in New Jersey due to the large number of injured who were self-evacuating to New Jersey by every and any means possible. In Hoboken alone, I have been told that the EMS personnel assessed and/or treated somewhere in the neighborhood of 3000 patients that day. Exact counts on the number of EMS vehicles and personnel that responded on September 11 are still being compiled. However, the information currently available indicates that over 400 ambulances -- and I received a phone call as I was leaving my home this morning to tell me that the number is over 440-- Of those, over 90 percent were from volunteer squads.
Over the next 10 days, the Council's member squads continued to assist New York City. More than 340 ambulances and crews, the vast majority, again, provided by the volunteer squads, helped provide EMS coverage in New York City wherever and whenever it was needed.
I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that there were problems on that day. Key communications were located on one or both towers. These systems were destroyed, causing major communication problems. In addition, some EMS units, both paid and volunteer, responded into New York without receiving instructions from State mobilization officers. However, the information that we have is that the total number of freelancers was less than 10, far fewer than during the 1993 bombing.
There were also other problems that arose during this unprecedented mobilization, however, neither the mobilization team nor the volunteer squads let any of the problems stand in the way of getting the job done.
In addition, despite the enormous number of EMS resources that were dedicated to the rescue effort, we know of no municipality served by a volunteer EMS service that was left without EMS coverage on that day.
I'd like to call your attention to what, to me, was one of the most remarkable events of that day. It was seeing the hundreds and perhaps thousands of volunteer EMS professionals that, like modern day minutemen, left their jobs, homes, and families to respond to a tragedy the likes of which this country has never seen.
They went to help those who were in need and could not help themselves. They did so without hesitation, despite the unknown dangers that awaited them. They are truly heros.
In closing, the New Jersey State First Aid Council and its member squads ask that our elected representatives not forget that when the call for help went out on September 11, the volunteers were there to answer that call.
Please remember the important role the EMS volunteers play in protecting the citizens of New Jersey. And please consider working with the Council and its members squads on all legislation and committee appointments that may effect the volunteers and their capabilities to respond to large scale emergencies in the future.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Thank you.
It's a point very well taken. And I'll mention to you what we've mentioned to some of the other folks today, and that is, really take a look at what your needs are, especially in the area of communications. That's always a perennial problem and not just because of the towers but just in general because of the multiplicity of the services that we have.
MR. MEYER: Coincidently, Senator, Mr. Goodstein, our mobilization chair, did approach to our board of trustees in August. And he is preparing to apply for the grant to better our communications across the state. And we also need to thank the State Police, because they've also been working closely with Frank and the rest of his team on the communications issues.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: And that would be very, very important.
Are there any questions from the Senators? (no response)
MR. MEYER: Thank you.
SENATOR ROBERTSON: Seeing none, thank you, Mr. Meyer.
We have no other witnesses.
I'd just like to thank everybody for coming forward today. We will continue to be close to these issues.
And for now, we will stand adjourned.