Identifying the Biological Threat
The four essential pillars of our national biodefense program are:
- Threat Awareness
- Prevention and Protection
- Surveillance and Detection
- Response and Recovery
Since the anthrax attacks of 2001, the Department has made progress in all four of these areas.
We have improved biopreparedness and situational awareness by sharing public health and intelligence information with state and local partners through local fusion centers. Our intelligence analysts and biodefense experts at the National Biological Threat Characterization Center conduct studies and laboratory experiments, filling in information gaps to help us better understand and counteract current and future biological threats.
We guard the physical safety and security of select agent facilities by completing Buffer Zone Plans and Site Assistance Visits. These measures provide expert analysis of security vulnerabilities and how to remedy them, and funding to prepare the state and local law enforcement who will respond first to any incident at these facilities.
We protect the nation’s health security by providing early detection and early warning of bioterrorist attacks. The National Biosurveillance Integration Center enhances the Federal government’s capability to rapidly identify and monitor biological events of national concern.
Improving Rapid Response
Recognizing the critical need to dispense life-saving medical countermeasures to those potentially exposed to biological agents, we have developed a concept of operations for a rapid federal response to support state and local jurisdiction plans. This program focuses on positioning medical countermeasures nearer to personnel serving in critical response roles.
To ensure that officials at all levels of government are able to carry out their functions, we developed and conducted a series of biodefense response exercises involving over 1,000 state and local officials.
Through our National Bioforensic Analysis Center, we can quickly analyze any forensic evidence to support identification of the perpetrators in order to prevent follow-on attacks. DHS continues to improve rapid response plans by conducting research on new approaches to restoring critical facilities and services after a bioterrorism incident.