THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Monday, March 15, 1999
PRESIDENT CLINTON AND VICE PRESIDENT GORE:
SAFEGUARDING AMERICANS FROM THE THREAT OF TERRORISM
In most instances of domestic terrorism, the first professionals on the scene--the ones in the best position to save the most lives--will be fire fighters. They are becoming front line defenders of our citizens--not just from accidents and arsonists but from those who would use terrorism to undermine our way of life.
President Bill Clinton
March 15, 1999
Today, in an address to the International Association of Fire Fighters, President Clinton announces new steps to provide firefighters and other "first responders" with the tools they need to defend the American people against terrorist attacks using chemical and biological weapons. He will discuss new resources, including purchasing equipment, training personnel, and investing in rapid response teams to combat these threats.
Presidential Leadership Fighting Chemical And Biological Terrorism. America's unrivaled military preparedness means that potential enemies are more likely to resort to terror than to conventional military assault. In addition, new technologies are increasing the ability of terrorists to plan and execute chemical and biological attacks against our cities and citizens. In response, the President is announcing new steps and highlighting continued efforts to combat the threat of a chemical or biological terrorist attack, including:
- Investing In Rapid Response Medical Response Teams. The Department of Health and Human Services plans to invest an additional $11 million in new rapid medical response teams trained to respond to a biological or chemical weapons emergency. The Metropolitan Medical Response Systems enhance local emergency response systems by removing victims, administering antidotes, decontaminating affected areas, and providing emergency medical transportation, primary care, hospital based medical care and crisis counseling;
- Providing Funds To Train Emergency Personnel. This month, the Department of Justice will award the first funds from a $21 million initiative to combat weapons of mass destruction by helping states and local communities train local first responders about responding to bioterrorist and other terrorist attacks;
- Providing Communities With The Resources They Need To Defend Against A Terrorist Attack. Next month, the Department of Justice will make available $73.5 million in grants to states and municipalities to procure equipment to detect chemical or biological agents and protect emergency response personnel and other first responders in the event of a terrorist attack.
Building On A Strong Record Of Defense. Today's announcement builds on the President's record of support for fighting terrorism domestically, and around the world:
- Presidential leadership in the fight against terrorism. In May 1998, President Clinton designated the first National Coordinator to bring together the Federal government's various programs on unconventional threats. In January, the President announced that his budget calls for over $10 billion in counterterrorism and related programs, including about $1.4 billion for programs to defend weapons of mass destruction;
- Training fire fighters and other "first responders" in 52 cities. The Department of Defense has trained over 15,000 firemen and other first responders in 52 cities to respond to bioterrorist and chemical weapons attacks, and expects to train first responders in 16 more cities before the end of fiscal year 1999;
- Working with states and localities to strengthen our response to terrorism. In October 1998, the Clinton Administration announced plans for the National Domestic Preparedness Office, which will coordinate federal, state, and local activities to ensure the effective use of resources in the fight against terrorism.