Terrorism and Bio-Terrorism: Is Pasadena Prepared?

Pasadena is highly invested in the safety of its residents and the community. The City provides specialized trainings in emergency operations across all city departments. We have established and ongoing partnerships with local agencies in preparedness of local and national threats or terrorist attacks.

Additional contact information:

Pasadena Public Health Department: (626) 744-6005
American Red Cross, San Gabriel Valley Chapter: (626) 799-0841
Los Angeles County Mental Health Crisis Hotline: (800) 854-7771
California Department of Health Services: www.dhs.ca.gov
U.S. Department of Homeland Security: www.dhs.gov
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov

This information was compiled with the help of City of Pasadena key staff, American Red Cross, State of California Office of Emergency Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Following are answers to frequently asked questions

Is Pasadena prepared for a terrorist attack?

  1. Many city employees have been receiving specialized training in emergency operations for the past several years. Additionally, the Pasadena Public Health Department and the Pasadena Fire Department have established a coalition of local organizations and agencies (Pasadena Emergency Preparedness Partnership, or PEPP) to improve communitywide coordination of emergency planning, preparedness and response. Coalition participants, who meet on a regular basis, include the American Red Cross, Huntington Memorial Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, several mental health providers and advocates and others.
  2. City departments, including Fire, Police, Public Health and Public Works, work together as first responders to incidents and disasters.
  3. The Pasadena Fire Department is prepared to handle a wide variety of incidents involving hazardous materials and search-and-rescue operations and has used grant funding to purchase special equipment for these purposes.
  4. The Pasadena Police Department’s Counter-Terrorism Section investigates and analyzes possible terrorism activity and works in partnership with local, state and federal agencies and task forces.
  5. The Pasadena Public Health Department conducts training for the city’s first responders and medical providers in how to detect and respond to biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear terrorism.
  6. Pasadena Water and Power has done everything possible to ensure the safety and integrity of our energy and water systems.

Have specific sites in Pasadena been targeted for terrorist attacks?

There is no evidence that any property in Pasadena is a target. There have been no threats or intelligence to suggest that these locations have been in any direct danger.

How is Pasadena Water and Power safeguarding our water supply?

Pasadena Water & Power (PWP) has a multiple lock system at all critical water facilities. The perimeters are gated and the reservoirs and booster stations are fully enclosed. Access to facilities is limited to authorized personnel only. As part of normal operating procedures, field staff regularly monitor water facilities for potential tampering and maintenance needs, while our in-house Water Quality Lab tests daily for a multitude of contaminants. PWP also communicates with a network of critical agencies including Pasadena Police, Fire and Public Health departments, California Department of Health Services and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

How will the Pasadena community be notified if there is a water-related emergency?

A new voice-activated emergency notification system purchased by the Pasadena Fire Department can send information prior to, during and/or immediately after a disaster or emergency to listed and unlisted residential and commercial telephone numbers. This system, updated quarterly, works in conjunction with the reverse 9-1-1 directory.

In addition, all local and regional print and broadcast media, including KPAS, will be alerted with the status of the disaster or emergency. The Emergency Preparedness page on the City of Pasadena web site (www.cityofpasadena.net) will be updated as necessary with new information, emergency telephone numbers, etc.

In the event of an emergency related to our water or power supplies, you may call (626) 744-4138 for up-to-date water information and (626( 744-4673 for up-to-the-minute power information.

Should I pay attention to Homeland Security threat levels?

Yes. The five threat levels were developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and they change from time to time depending on intelligence received by the CIA, FBI and other agencies. Be aware that Pasadena is often one level below that set by the federal government.

The current threat level can be found at the top of this page or by calling (626) 744-4000.

What is bioterrorism?

Bioterrorism is the use of biological agents, including bacteria, viruses, parasites and biological toxins, to intentionally produce disease or intoxication in a susceptible population to meet terrorist aims.

What are some of the diseases associated with acts of bioterrorism?

Diseases associated with bioterrorism can be easily spread from person to person, cause high mortality, cause public panic and fear or require special action for public health preparedness. These include anthrax, plague, smallpox, botulism, tularemia and the viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola.

What should I do in the event of a bioterrorist attack?

In the highly unlikely event that this happens in or near Pasadena, try to remain calm. If you are near the biological substance, whether liquid or vapor, move away immediately and cover your mouth with a folded, wet cloth or surgical mask. If you believe you have been exposed, rinse your skin with warm, soapy water and go to a hospital or doctor’s office immediately.

If you do not believe you have been exposed, turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems; close fireplace dampers; get your disaster supplies kit and make sure the radio is working. “Shelter in place” by going, if possible, to an interior room without windows that is above ground level. Using duct tape, seal all cracks around the door and any vents into the room. While sheltering in place, keep listening to your radio or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate. (You may get more information about sheltering in place by visiting https://www.redcross.org/local/california/los-angeles/about-us/locations/san-gabriel-pomona-valley.html or calling the San Gabriel Valley chapter of the American Red Cross at (626) 799-0841.)

The City of Pasadena will make use of KPAS and the city web site whenever possible. Local officials may call for evacuation in specific areas that may be at greatest risk in Pasadena.

What if my children are at school at the time of an attack?

Check with your child’s school now so you can be aware of that school’s emergency preparedness plan. Make sure the school has updated information on you and other designated caregivers.

What can I do to make sure my family is prepared?

We are more likely to be impacted by an earthquake than a terrorist incident, but the basic emergency preparedness is the same:

(1) Every household should have a preparedness kit for earthquakes and other emergencies. The kit should be kept up to date and stocked with enough supplies for at least 72 hours of self-sufficiency.
(2) Stay informed; make your decisions and form your opinions based on fact instead of fear. Do not trust verbal and email rumors and do not rely on information found on web sites that are not associated with official agencies. Official web sites include http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic (U.S. Department of Homeland Security), http://www.oes.ca.gov (State of California Department of Emergency Services), http://www.cdc.gov (Centers for Disease Control) and http://www.redcross.org (American Red Cross).

Are ready-made preparedness kits available?

Some stores and Web sites sell them. But before you buy one, make sure it has all the supplies recommended by the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross sells ready-made kits that are tax-deductible (call 626-799-0841, ext. 407 for more information).

Are there special instructions for seniors and persons with disabilities?

Yes. Take some time now to anticipate the level of assistance you might need in the event of a disaster. For example, will you need help leaving your home or office? If electricity and/or water goes out, will that put you at immediate risk? Do you have a service animal that may need special care? Then create a network of friends, family members and co-workers who are able to assist you at a moment’s notice, and develop a disaster plan with their help. Create a medical information list that includes the names and phone numbers of your doctors, medications, dosage instructions and other details and make sure your network has copies of the list. Ask your physician or pharmacist for a seven-day supply of medications to store in your emergency preparedness kit. Secure or remove furniture and other objects that may block your exit path if they topple. Visit https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/disaster-safety-for-people-with-disabilities.htmlhttp://www.prepare.org/disabilities/disabilities.htm or call the American Red Cross at (626) 799-0841 for more detailed information.

Should I buy gas masks for my family?

Please do not be duped into believing you need gas masks. In the extremely unlikely event of a public health emergency involving bioterrorism in this community, the Pasadena Public Health Department and Pasadena Fire Department are prepared to take immediate steps to address it. Gas masks are not designed to protect against biologic agents; they are designed to protect against chemical agents, but only if they are worn at the exact same time the chemical is released. Improper use, incorrect fitting and improper maintenance and incorrect fitting of gas masks can cause serious injury and even death, especially for infants, seniors and people with heart and/or lung problems.

What should I tell my children?

Discuss your family’s disaster communications plan and make sure children know who to reach, how to reach them and where to meet in the event of an emergency.

Reassure children and tell them you will keep them as safe as possible; remind them that authorities have increased security and monitoring so that citizens will be safe; help them express their feelings through letters or drawings; be sure to limit their exposure to news broadcasts and try to remain as calm as possible when you watch the news if children are nearby; encourage older children and adolescents to talk about their feelings and help them find out how to assist your neighborhood association, church or local non-profit organization in this effort.

Visit the Red Cross website for more information.

How can I deal with troublesome fears about bioterrorism?

Be aware that you are not alone. It is reasonable for people to feel anxious about their personal safety. Share your feelings with other adults. If your fear stops you from doing your normal activities, help is available through local agencies and may be available from your health care provider. Call the city’s Public Affairs Office at (626) 744-4755 for a list of referrals.

How can I help my neighborhood?

Arrange for one or more neighborhood meetings and share this information with your neighbors. Make sure you and your neighbors share family emergency plans with each other. Be sure to check on your neighbors in the unlikely event of a terrorist or bioterrorist attack.

How should my neighborhood mobilize?

The Pasadena Fire Department offers emergency preparedness training for neighborhood associations and Neighborhood Watch groups. Call (626) 744-4675 to arrange for this service.

How does Neighborhood Watch fit into the emergency planning process?

Within every neighborhood association there should be a number of Neighborhood Watch groups that can disseminate information, services and supplies to their blocks. Neighborhood Watch block captains work with Pasadena Police Department coordinators and can be important points of contact for other city staff and the American Red Cross.  For more information about Neighborhood Watch, call (626) 744-4550.

I own a business. How should I prepare?

Your preparedness efforts should be similar to that of families and neighborhoods. In addition, make sure you and your employees know how to contact each other in case of emergency; assign one employee from each shift to be the safety coordinator (the American Red Cross can provide training); install emergency lights that will turn on if the power goes out; use surge protectors, back up your computer data often and keep a backup tape off-site; discuss business continuity insurance with your agent.

Visit https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/emres/business.html for more information on how to develop an emergency management plan for your business.

How can I get more information?

Send your questions to the city’s disaster services coordinator at lderderian@cityofpasadena.net; call the California Office of Emergency Services hotline at (800) 550-5234 for information in English and Spanish that addresses health and safety concerns.