Issues in Civilian Disaster Planning and Management for Incidents of Chemical and Biological Terrorism
ACADEMY OF HEALTH SCIENCES (ARMY) FORT SAM HOUSTON TX HEALTH CARE ADMINISTRATION
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The proliferation of chemical and biological weapons has experienced a dramatic increase since the collapse of the former Soviet Union. Scientists from the biological and chemical weapons programs throughout the former eastern bloc have been courted by rogue nations and terrorist groups, either through economic necessity or shared political, cultural, or religious ideology. As a result, the threat of a terrorist attack using chemical or biological weapons has increased dramatically. This leads many experts to concede that its no longer a matter of if, but when. For almost fifty years, Cold War planning doctrine focused on a full-scale nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Although attempts to eliminate biological and chemical weapons did occur, their use was still restricted primarily to the battlefield against military targets. As a result, the United States civilian response plans failed to address these threats. With the widespread proliferation of these weapons and information about them, federal, state, and local authorities are rapidly developing plans to meet this new threat. The healthcare industry is particularly vulnerable for a number of reasons, among them are a lack of experience and training reduction in national healthcare assets due to reforms and denial of the threat and the role they would play in response to such an attack. Efforts so far have focused on first responders, with very little emphasis on the healthcare infrastructure that would ultimately treat and care for victims. This represents a serious flaw in the national domestic preparedness strategy that will require leaders in all fields to correct. This paper will address some of the shortcomings of current disaster plans and offer recommendations for local level response activities to consider in developing their contingency plans. It is critical that local efforts be strengthened, as they will be the first line of defense if such a terrorist attack were to occur.
- Civil Defense
- Chemical, Biological and Radiological Warfare