Rapid Contingency Plans for Responding to Victims of a Chemical Attack: Handling Casualties and Decontamination   [open html - 394KB]

"All Americans are concerned about the potential threat of a chemical or biological terrorist attack. Such an attack could produce an overwhelming number of casualties, and nearby hospitals will be called upon to help manage both physical and psychological victims. Excellent descriptions are available of comprehensive decontamination and triage facilities designed to handle such mass-casualty situations. However, such facilities take time to fully implement. This brochure discusses more immediate steps that hospitals can take to protect their facilities and staff, and allow them to provide safe and effective care for victims. The recommendations contained in this document are intended to assist hospitals in quickly developing a contingency plan for responding to mass casualty incidents. 'This information is not intended as a substitute for more long-term planning involving building renovation, site preparation, specialized equipment purchases and corresponding training. The information in this brochure is not meant to be complete but to be a quick guide; please consult other references and expert opinion'. Regardless of a hospital's current decontamination capabilities, a plan can be quickly developed to handle mass casualties from a chemical or biological incident. Fear and panic are perhaps the greatest concern following a chemical or biological attacks. Fortunately, with some straightforward precautions and procedures, basic safety equipment and supplies, hospitals can develop the self-confidence and competency to respond to the emergency health care needs of victims from a terrorist attack, even before longer-term solutions can be implemented. This brochure also describes contingency plans for simple, easily and rapidly deployable decontamination procedures that can be quickly implemented. Because of the immediacy of effects from chemical warfare compared to biological warfare agents, this document focuses primarily on chemical agent victims (radiological incidents are not addressed)."

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