chapter  1
7 Pages

Introduction

On 22-23 June 2001, the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefence Strategies ran a bioterrorism exercise in conjunction with the Analytic Services (ANSER) Institute for Homeland Security to examine America’s preparedness and response mechanisms to a smallpox terrorist attack. Designed to increase awareness of the threat posed by bioterrorism among senior US national security experts and enhance preparedness and response strategies, the scenario assumed extensive civil disorder, panic buying of food, and hospitals being overwhelmed with people with common illnesses who feared they had smallpox.1 As with subsequent TOPOFF (Top Officials) US terrorism preparedness exercises mandated by Congress, one of the aims of the exercise designs is to evaluate how public opinion can be influenced to anticipate civil unrest and panic that could ensue following a single or multiple chemical, biological or radiological (CBR) attack.2 But to what degree is the public prone to panic or does it exhibit prudence when faced with terrorist attacks? What government and public health response measures can exacerbate or reduce the terror of terrorism, and how robust are assumptions concerning societal resilience?