Community College of Rhode Island

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Bioterrorism Preparedness Program

Introduction

CCRI's Bioterrorism Preparedness Program has been adopted from guidelines published by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA).CCRI's policy is subject to change as federal and state developments warrant

The Community College of Rhode Island recognizes the seriousness of bioterrorism threats and intends to do everything possible to protect its staff and students from harm. At the same time the college wishes to remind everyone that threatening to use weapons of mass destruction is a felony and that all bioterrorism hoaxes will be prosecuted by the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

To minimize the chance of a misunderstanding originating in a CCRI mailroom, employees and students are reminded that all outside mail originating at CCRI must have a full return address on it, including the sender's department. 

If you have questions about reporting suspect packages or letters, contact Richard Robinson, Chief of CCRI's Department of Security and Safety and College Police at 401-825-2109 or rrobinson@ccri.edu.You may also call the Rhode Island Department of Health at 1-800-942-7434 during business hours or visit the RIDOH bioterrorism WebPage at http://www.health.ri.gov/lists/diseases/#bioterrorismagents.

HOW TO HANDLE ANTHRAX AND OTHER BIOLOGICAL AGENT THREATS:

GUIDELINES FOR CCRI OFFICES AND MAILROOMS

Many facilities in communities around the country have received anthrax threat letters. Most were empty envelopes; some have contained powdery substances. The purpose of this program is to provide procedures for handling such incidents. Until further notice, the guidelines in this policy also pertain to mail or packages that may carry other suspected hazards, such as chemicals or explosives. 

Anthrax organisms can cause infection in the skin, gastrointestinal system, or lungs. To do so, the organism must be rubbed into abraded skin, swallowed, or inhaled as a fine, aerosolized mist. Disease can be prevented after exposure to the anthrax spores by early treatment with appropriate antibiotics. Anthrax is not spread from one person to another person. For anthrax to be effective as a covert agent, it must be aerosolized into very small particles. This is difficult to do, and requires a great deal of technical skill and special equipment. If these small particles are inhaled, life-threatening lung infection can occur, but prompt recognition and treatment are effective.

REGARDING A SUSPICIOUS UNOPENED LETTER OR PACKAGE MARKED WITH THREATENING MESSAGE SUCH AS "ANTHRAX":

  1. Do not shake or empty the contents of any suspicious envelope or package.
  2. PLACE the envelope or package in a plastic bag or some other container to prevent leakage of contents. CCRI mailrooms, receiving areas and other selected rooms are equipped with plastic biohazard bags and other containers for storing suspect packages and materials.
  3. If you do not have any container, then COVER the envelope or package with anything (e.g., clothing, paper, trashcan, etc.) and do not remove this cover.
  4. Then LEAVE the room and CLOSE the door, or section off the area to prevent others from entering (i.e., keep others away).
  5. WASH first your hands and then your face thoroughly with soap and water to prevent spreading any powder to your face.
  6. Report the incident to the Department of Security and Safety and College Police at once by calling333-7035 (Flanagan Campus), 825-2109 (Knight Campus), 455-6050 (Liston Campus) or 851-1620 (Newport Campus).
  7. Notify your supervisor. 
  8. The Department of Security and Safety and College Police will notify the Rhode Island emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) at 401-946-9996. The agency will coordinate an appropriate response with the Rhode Island Department of Health.
  9. Notify your supervisor.
  10. LIST all people who were in the room or area when this suspicious letter or package was recognized and those who may have handled it in the mailroom. Give the list to both local public health authorities and law enforcement officials for follow-up investigation and advice.
  11. If you believe you were exposed to a suspicious powder or other substance in the last 30 days and you are not ill, contact the Rhode Island Department of Health Family Health Information line at 800-942-7434 during regular working hours, Monday through Friday 8:30 AM-4:00 PM.
  12. If you have had exposure to a suspicious powder or other substance and you are ill, immediately contact a physician or go to an emergency room.

REGARDING AN ENVELOPE CONTAINING POWDER AND/OR POWDER SPILLS OUT ONTO A SURFACE AND YOU MAY BE EXPOSED:

  1. DO NOT try to CLEAN UP the powder. COVER the spilled contents immediately with anything (e.g., clothing, paper, trashcan, etc.) and do not remove this cover! 
  2. LEAVE the room and CLOSE the door, or section off the area to prevent others from entering. Keep others away.
  3. WASH first your hands and then your face with soap and water to prevent spreading any powder to your face.
  4. Report the incident to the Department of Security and Safety and College Police at once by calling333-7035 (Flanagan Campus), 825-2109 (Knight Campus), 455-6050 (Liston Campus) or 851-1620 (Newport Campus).
  5. The Department of Security and Safety and College Police will notify the Rhode Island emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) at 401-946-9996. This agency will coordinate an appropriate response with the Rhode Island Department of Health.
  6. If your campus Security office phone is not answered, then dial the local police at 911.
  7. Notify your supervisor. 
  8. LIST all people who were in the room or area when this suspicious letter or package was recognized, those who may have handled it in the mailroom and especially those who had actual contact with the powder. Give this list to both the local public health authorities so proper instructions can be given for medical follow-up, and to law enforcement officials for further investigation.
  9. REMOVE heavily contaminated clothing as soon as possible and place in a red biohazard bag if one is available, or other container that can be sealed. This clothing bag should be placed in a five-gallon DOT pail and given to the emergency responders for proper handling.
  10. SHOWER with soap and water as soon as possible. DO NOT USE BLEACH OR OTHER DISINFECTANT ON YOUR SKIN.
  11. If you believe that you were exposed to a suspicious powder or other substance in the last 30 days and your are not ill, contact the Rhode Island Department of Health Family Health Information line at 800-942-7434 during regular working hours, Monday through Friday 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM.
  12. If you have had exposure to a suspicious powder or other substance and are ill, immediately contact a physician or go to an emergency room.

ADDITIONAL GUIDELINES FOR THOSE HANDLING LARGE VOLUMES OF MAIL

  1. Wash your hands with warm soap and water before and after handling the mail.
  2. Do not eat, drink, or smoke around mail.
  3. If you have cuts or skin lesions on your hands, use disposable vinyl (not latex) gloves.
  4. Open mail away from your face.
  5. Surgical masks, eye protection or gowns are NOT necessary or recommended.

HOW TO IDENTIFY SUSPICIOUS PACKAGES AND LETTERS:

Some characteristics of suspicious packages and letters include the following...

  • Excessive postage
  • Handwritten or poorly typed addresses
  • Incorrect addressee title or title with no name
  • Misspellings of names/addresses or common words
  • Oily stains, discoloration or odor
  • No return address
  • Excessive weight
  • Lopsided or uneven envelope
  • Protruding wires or aluminum foil
  • Excessive security material such as masking tape, string, etc.
  • Visual distractions
  • Ticking sound
  • Marked with restrictive endorsements, such as "Personal" or "Confidential"
  • Shows a city or state in the postmark that does not match the return address

HOW IS THE RHODE ISLAND DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH PREPARING FOR A POSSIBLE BIOTERRORIST ATTACK?

The Health Department has a plan in place that includes three critical components: detection, response, and communication. This plan is in place seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. If an attack occurs, the Health Department will work with hospitals and other health care providers, law enforcement, emergency management, and federal officials to mount a response:

Useful References for Additional

Anthrax Information

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Last Updated: 8/4/14