Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
The 2001 anthrax attacks heightened awareness of the possibility of weaponizing biological agents such as Ebola, anthrax, and smallpox and hence, the Bioterrorism Act of 2002 to prevent biological attacks and reduce bioterrorism threats and vulnerabilities. However, the 2014 Ebola epidemic raised concerns about unpreparedness for bioterrorism within the healthcare community and about secondary infections from healthcare workers. Using Kingdon's conceptualization of multiple streams as the foundation, the purpose of this case study was to explore the nature of bioterrorism threats and the level of preparedness of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) who were involved in the 2014 Ebola epidemic in a New Jersey County for biological attacks and avoidance or reduction of secondary infections. Data were collected from 18 individuals through interviews and from emergency response documents. The data were inductively coded and subjected to thematic analysis. The emergent themes indicated that although there was an abundance of bioterrorism preparedness policies and programs dating back to the 2001 anthrax attacks, the response to the 2014 Ebola epidemic revealed inadequate bioterrorism preparedness practices. The study participants identified insufficient knowledge of bioagents and lack of regular training as factors that prevented enhanced preparedness practices. Participants suggested that improved training opportunities, interagency collaborations, and better funding would improve bioterrorism preparedness practices. The social change implications of this study include increased funding for bioterrorism preparedness to harden EMTs and the creation of public awareness of bioagents for improved 911 calls and emergency response practices.