Some of the things citizens should do to prepare for emergency situations are the same for natural emergencies or man-made emergencies. Having an emergency supply kit and a family communication plan are vital in all types of emergency situations. However, there are differences among potential terrorist threats and the actions one might take.
Biological Attack: What is it and what should you do?
A biological attack is the deliberate release of germs or other biological substances that can make you sick. Many of these substances must be inhaled or enter the skin through a cut or be eaten to make you sick. Some can be contagious (like smallpox) and some are not (like anthrax). To safeguard the health of Kentucky citizens, the CHFS has developed a partnership with the Poison Control Center. In the event of a biological terrorist incident, the Poison Control Hotline would be activated to receive calls from the public. Trained professionals will be able to answer questions concerning possible exposures, decontamination, possible symptoms, patient treatment, at-risk populations or any other concerns.
Poison Control Hotline (800) 222-1222
In an emergency, citizens may call at any time seven days a week, 24 hours a day. This hotline will be available during the first six days of a public health emergency or biological/chemical terrorist attack.
If you become aware of an unusual and suspicious substance nearby:
1. Quickly get away.
2. Protect yourself by covering your mouth and nose with several layers of fabric.
3. Wash with soap and water.
4. Contact authorities.
5. Watch television, listen to the radio or check the Internet for official news and information.
6. If you become sick, seek emergency medical attention.
Six Agents Identified by the CDC as Posing the Greatest Level of Threat
1. Anthrax bacteria can remain in dormant spore form for decades. It infects skin, lungs and gastrointestinal systems in humans. The pulmonary form is tiny particles and considered the most deadly. It is the most likely to be used in a biological attack.
2. Botulinum toxin is a category A biological agent according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, it is one of the most poisonous substances.
3. Plague is a bacterial infection that can infect humans and occurs in three forms: bubonic, pneumonic and septicemic. Pneumonic plague is the only form that is contagious and would be the most likely to be used in a terror attack.
4. Smallpox is a contagious viral disease that has killed hundreds of millions of people. It is perhaps the most feared potential bioweapon.
5. Tularemia, or rabbit fever or deer fly fever is a bacterial infection that is highly infectious but not contagious. It can infect humans by multiple routes, but the most likely is thought to be inhalation of an aerosol.
6. Viral hemorrhagic fevers includes a group of viruses, including Ebola, that cause internal and external bleeding. Ebola is said to cause severe illness and has a high fatality rate, whereas other viruses in this family are not as severe and cause only mild illness.
Terrorists could also strike at the nation's food supply by infecting plants and animals with disease. In Kentucky, the horse breeding and racing industries could be at risk. For that reason, the state veterinarian is on the Statewide Bioterrorism Advisory Committee and carefully monitors any occurrence of animal disease.
Chemical Threats: Things You Should Know
A chemical attack is the deliberate release of a toxic gas, liquid or solid that can poison people and the environment. Possible signs include many people suffering from watery eyes, twitching, choking, trouble breathing or loss of coordination. Many sick or dead birds, fish or small animals are also cause for concern.
If you can define the impacted area or where a chemical is coming from, get away. If inside a building, get out of the building or get as far away as possible from the contamination by sheltering in place. If your eyes are watering, your skin is stinging and you are having trouble breathing, you may have been exposed to a chemical.
1. Strip immediately and wash with water and soap if possible.
2. Seek emergency medical attention
Nuclear Blasts or Dirty Bombs
A nuclear blast is an explosion with intense light and heat, a damaging pressure wave and widespread radioactive material that can contaminate the air, water and ground surface for miles. A dirty bomb is the use of common explosive materials to spread radioactive materials in a localized area. It is not a nuclear blast. It is important to avoid radiation as much as possible.
1. Consider if you can get out of the area or if it is better to go inside a building to limit exposure to radioactive material.
2. When taking shelter, go as far below ground as possible.
3. Close windows and doors, turn off air conditioners, heaters and other ventilation systems.
4. Watch television, listen to the radio or check the Internet for official news.
Other Important Phone Numbers
District Health Departments
Disease Reporting Hotline 888-9REPORT
Emergency and DUI Hotline (800) 222-5555
State Police Public Affairs Office (502) 695-6300
Kentucky State Police Missing Persons Hotline (800) 543-7723
Kentucky Traffic and Travel Information (In-state toll-free) 511
(Out of state toll-free) (866) 737-3767
Road/Weather Information (800) 459-7623
Division of Emergency Management (800) 255-2587 or (502) 564-7815