Response to Terrorism & WMD in EMS

Response to Terrorism & WMD in EMS

In their article, Alpert and Grossman provide a comprehensive outlook on how Emergency Medical Service (EMS) need to prepare themselves to respond to terrorist attacks. According to the authors, acts of terrorism range from bombings, shootings, and stabbings to car-ramming and tower attacks (Alpert & Grossman, 2019). There are also other major attacks such as biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological terrorism attacks. Terrorists tend to target places with a high concentration of people including shopping malls, buses, restaurants, and trains to achieve their goals of harming many civilians. Thus, it is critical for EMS to prepare themselves and come up with effective strategies for dealing with the challenges of terrorist attacks.

Among the major points highlighted in the article are the types of terrorist attacks the EMS responders need to be aware of. One of the major terrorist attacks is blast injuries which include primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary (Alpert & Grossman, 2019). Primary blast injuries happen after the impacts of a blast wave. Secondary blast injuries cause result from shrapnel-like pieces of glass, metal, and other objects and they cause a penetrating trauma on individuals. Tertiary blast injuries originate from blats throwing a victim and quaternary blast injuries incorporate burns resulting from explosions. Other types of terrorism attacks include chemical, biological, and nuclear terrorism. According to the authors, chemical terrorism is administered in form of agents such as organophosphates and asphyxiants. Biologic terrorism includes events such as infecting civilians with anthrax or salmonella administered through food and water contamination and airborne spread. Nuclear terrorism is administered through explosions of dirty bombs or dispersing nuclear materials into the water.

One of the major takeaways from the article is the important aspects that need to be considered during terrorist attacks. First, communication, control, and command need emphasis and it is critical for EMS and hospital administrators to be included in contingency plans (Alpert & Grossman, 2019). At the scene of the event, security is critical which means that health care providers need to be verified by security services or the police that the scene is safe before proceeding to the areas to provide their services. Another takeaway is the triage strategies that should be incorporated such as the START, Care Flight Triage, Triage Sieve and Sort, and SALT.

By following significant strategies, frontline EMS professionals can become better prepared for acts of terrorism. First, they should ensure there is a coordination of medical resources and personnel. They should also effectively train on how to handle different types of terrorism and understand what they need to do to help civilians. To avoid PTSD and depression shift debriefing on critical incidents and effective counseling services will be effective (Alpert & Grossman, 2019). They should also have all the resources available and understand the necessary precautions for all terrorism attacks.













Alpert, E. A., & Grossman, S. A. (2019). EMS Terrorism Response. Treasure Island: StatPearls Publishing. PMID: 30725674



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