Health Care Workers Practice For Bioterror Threat

Fire Departments locally and across the country now train for a potential bioterrorism attack. So do police departments, paramedics and hospitals.

Tonight I have news that state lawmakers are making efforts to make sure even more people are prepared.

Its called Assembly Bill 250 and requires doctors, nurses dentists, dental assistants and EMT's to take a class on how to recognize and respond to a biological terrorist act.

Preparing for a biological terrorist attack - which may have seemed absurd five years ago - is now standard for many emergency personnel.

They must learn to respond to situations that involve toxic chemicals which make themselves apparent right away and to other substances which may make their way to through a community over time.

Recognizing the early signs of such a deliberate attack also requires training.

Here at Northern Nevada Medical Center in Sparks, hospital personnel are learning to recognize and respond to an biological terrorist attack.

Its a new state law that's brought emergency room physician Dr. Kevin Brown here. But its training he says these days that's needed.

"I actually don't think about overseas terrorism, I think of a factory incident that occurs or an individual that is upset over something," Brown says.

Dr. Brown even tried on different suits he'll be required to wear should an attack ever occur. This suit with its special hood and breathing apparatus is something he could conceivably have to work in for hours at a time - perhaps outside in the middle of August.

Says Brown: "Especially when you are starting to think about treating five-ten-to one-hundred patients all at one time it would be very difficult."

The training in part is specific to Nevada where rail systems and chemical plants and even mining can pose special opportunities for those who want to cause harm.

"I also want them to walk away with the reality that there are somethings out there that can hurt our community," says disaster trainer Dee Grimm RN.

To date more than 3,600 health-care professionals have taken this course statewide to comply with the law.

Beginning next year they'll have to take the course to be licensed to practice in this state.

If you'd like more information about this course and the law, we've set up a link page for you on this Web site. Go to the links area and following the lead there.