Realism about Possible Terrorist Attacks

    It would be absolutely foolhardy for you (mentally, emotionally and practically), to be relying on your local medical, hospital and crisis resources to immediately provide for you and your family, in the event of a determined biochemical terrorist attack.

    Do not be lulled into denial.

     A very recent New York Times piece about the USA state of affairs in emergency preparation was headlined,

     "Repeated confusion about coordination, communication, politics, bureaucracy and science exposed many of the basic weaknesses in the nation's emergency response system."

     The recent limited incidents of bioterror have resulted in a government response that can only be characterized as chaotic. Ponder what that would mean for you and yours in a full-scale attack!

     "We shouldn't have been surprised…we've seen in exercise after exercise that we're not as prepared as we need to be… we have long known about the problems with communications, or about who's in charge" said Randy Larson, a retired Air Force colonel and expert on Homeland Security.

"Wise as a serpent. Harmless as a Dove."

     One of the dominant characteristics of a serpent is that s/he is ever vigilant – knowing who/what its enemies are, where they are, how they might attack and the importance of getting out of harm’s way. Academy urges your thinking to now be obedient to those exact biblical instructions.

     First, face the realities:

     British experts warn that terrorist’s threats to use crop-dusting airplanes for spraying major metropolitan cities in the United States should be taken seriously. Malcolm Dando, professor of international security at the University of Bradford states, " If you wanted to use biological weapons, one of the best ways is to use a crop duster,"

     In the 1990’s, it was investigated and concluded that 100 kilograms of the anthrax virus, if successfully scattered at night over Washington, D.C. that the effect would be between one and three million deaths. Crop dusting airplanes are able to carry two times that amount.

     Most experts report that biological or chemical weapons attack would probably be dangerous due to the first indications being patients arriving at clinics or emergency rooms. Robert Byrd, who is the director of emergency services at a hospital in Tennessee has reported that even though he is meeting with physicians and emergency personnel, is not fully prepared for a biological attack.

     On October 12, 2001, Dr. Dennis Perrotta, the Texas Department of Health’s chief epidemiologist, reported he believed the State of Texas was ill-prepared in dealing with a biological attack. He reported that Texas lacked any type of strategy for separating infected areas if a substantial epidemic occurred. Perrotta stated, "We haven’t done an area quarantine in decades, so I’m not sure how we implement those plans." Washington, D.C. has approximately 100 hospital beds for isolating infected patients.

     Hospital emergency departments have decreased in personnel over the years by 20 percent, while at the same time the number of patients seen has increased to 14 percent. Due to the shortage of nurses and medical technicians, a full-size terrorist attack could cause a problem in critical care. Likewise, some hospital emergency rooms are only able to handle 10 to 50 emergency patients at a given time. Many emergency rooms have faced shut downs due to treating patients without insurance and losing finances.

     Symptoms from a biological release sometimes are not known for at least two weeks. Symptoms similar to the flu, such as with anthrax, or similar to chickenpox, such as in smallpox, might be misdiagnosed until the illness reaches an epidemic.

     Last year, D.A. Henderson, director of John Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies, at a conference on biological terrorism stated, "With shortages of hospital space, vaccines, and antibiotics, there would be chaos." He further stated, "The United States hasn’t vaccinated against smallpox since the 1970’s, and that’s only enough vaccine left for 7.5 million people, and no factories to make more. The development of an anthrax vaccine available to the public is another 5 years away."

     There is also a problem that exists in regard to treating young children. The respiratory rate is higher in children than adults. Also, young children are still working at developing their immune system. Hospitals don’t have full guidelines for treating children exposed to anthrax. Adults are given a decontamination shower. If a child was given the same shower it could result in shock. There is more research that has been done on antibiotics and antidotes for adults than for children.

     The United States healthcare industry is unprepared for managing an epidemic from a biological attack, should one occur. Deputy Director, Dr. Tom O’Toole, at Johns Hopkins University Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies stated at the same conference, "The consequences are so potentially calamitous. American physicians are not trained in recognizing anthrax, smallpox, or bubonic plague," he stated. No specific laboratory analysis is existent for detecting the infectious diseases, except for a few extremely specialized labs. There is little communication between the medical society and the public health organizations, which presents another obstacle to face should an outbreak occur. Dr. Perrotta, on October 12, 2001, also reported being "troubled" that physicians and others in the medical profession are not conversing with each other

     Dr. William Baine, senior medical advisor to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) also believes that the majority of doctors have never viewed an attack of smallpox or treated it. It is unknown what would happen should an outbreak occur. The majority of U.S. doctors that would be called on during a biochemical attack by terrorists have a great deal to learn about diseases such as anthrax and smallpox.

     Dr Jake Jacoby, an emergency medicine specialist at the University of California at San Diego, and has conducted studies on the emergency response effectiveness to natural disasters and disease epidemics of the public health system in California, was concerned last year that countless numbers of United States hospitals and public health services were lagging because of some facilities not having the technology needed in emergency situations. He stated at that time, "In many cases, they’re still reporting infectious diseases by telephone, or even by mailing in postcards.

     Even with today’s technology, how effective the health care industry will be in the event of an attack is unsure, but it is estimated it will be limited. Due to the onset of many of the diseases not being known at the time of the attack, creates more of a problem. Additionally, many of the medical personnel are unfamiliar with these rare diseases, especially with younger doctors. An attack would leave the average person completely overwhelmed for getting the quick treatment needed. Hospitals in the smaller communities often don’t have as technical equipment as larger facilities. During a bioterrorist attack, time is of the essence.

     After you let the realities sink in and take a long gulp. . .

     immediately become determined that you are going to do what YOU can do to get and stay informed, educated and prepared.

     Of course you are not qualified to treat yourself or your loved ones long term from exposure to some mysterious, deadly bioterror induced disease. But you can develop a basic understanding of what the hazards are, how to best protect yourself and your family.

     And you can prepare yourself mentally, emotionally and practically so that you have some idea of how to react and what to do IF the unthinkable ever actually happens.

     Review the information about the possible hazards that we’ve collected for you on this web site.

     Consider alternative and supporting health treatments you might employ in the critical moments while your regular health system would probably be overwhelmed.

     Investigate further. Survey the medical facilities in your area. Call your doctor’s office and ask questions. Determine the best place to go if there should be an emergency.

     Develop some alternatives. Explore the links we have provided. Discuss reality with your mate and family. Come to some conclusions. Take some actions for preparation.

     Move your feet! Now.