Chapter 17: Healthcare and the Chemical Surety Mission   [open pdf - 64KB]

The unique challenges of chemical warfare agents, aging munitions, and protecting worker health in a chemical environment can prove a rewarding experience for healthcare providers. The personnel reliability program places numerous safety and administrative demands that require that the physician acquire knowledge in occupational medicine that many physicians never experience. Unlike many clinicians, the IMA is thrust into an environment that requires interaction with multiple professional groups. Coordination with industrial hygienists and safety officers will result in an awareness of the workplace and the work conditions that is seldom appreciated by other physicians. Designing a medical surveillance program to prevent illness and injury is seldom attempted by most physicians in clinical practice. This secondary preventive measure will augment and reinforce the primary preventive efforts of safety and industrial hygiene measures. Appropriate surveillance requires a thorough knowledge of the chemical agents. Requisite information is available through mandatory courses and on-the-job training. The chemical demilitarization process places additional demands on U.S. Army Medical Department personnel. In addition to the many responsibilities inherent to the chemical surety mission, the IMA may be challenged with risk communication. Many of the civilians living near depot storage facilities do not approve of the plan to incinerate the 30,000 tons of agents stored at these sites. Healthcare providers can play an important role in providing information and building confidence in the U.S. Army's ability to safely destroy these agents through incineration.

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Textbook of Military Medicine: Medical Aspects of Chemical and Biological Warfare, p. 397-413
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