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Largest Federal Union Blasts Bush Administration for Failing to Equip Workers to Aid First Responders
PR Newswire, October 27, 2004

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The Bush Administration has failed to provide adequate training and equipment to employees designated to assist first responders in the event of a nuclear, chemical, or biological emergency, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) charged Oct. 25.

AFGE, which is the largest federal employee union and represents bargaining unit employees at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said in a grievance that NIH failed to train and equip its "Code Red Alert Critical" employees to help first responders or to even include them in an emergency response training drill held Oct. 21. First responders include personnel such as emergency management squads, fire and rescue agencies, hazardous materials teams, and others.

The union also charged that NIH has failed to provide such equipment as protective suits, gloves, gas masks, helmets, pocket dosimeters, or radiation meters. Moreover, it has failed to train its Code Red alert employees in basis first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, chemical/biological/nuclear agent awareness and response, decontamination procedures, and other areas.

"The agency has failed to draft, create, or publish a standard operating procedure for Code Red Alert Critical employees," the AFGE said in its grievance, and accused the NIH of violating several articles of the Occupational Safety and Health Act's general duty clause.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 600,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.



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