We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More

By the Numbers: A Porous Wall of Protection

By Josie Glausiusz
Dec 1, 2001 6:00 AMNov 12, 2019 6:39 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Now that the specter of biological or chemical assaults seems a lot more real, how well could we cope with an attack? A major survey conducted in the Northwest has found that some hospitals are frighteningly ill prepared. Don Wetter, an emergency coordinator for the U.S. Public Health Service, and his team found that of 186 hospitals in that region, fewer than one fifth have plans in place for coping with biological or chemical incidents. Just one in 16 has minimum resources—antidotes, respirators, protective clothing, and decontamination showers—to treat victims of an attack with sarin, the nerve gas that killed 11 people in a Tokyo subway in 1995.

"The reality is that there are still only so many health-care dollars that can be allocated to this," says physician Bill Daniell of the University of Washington at Seattle, who cowrote the study. "So unless the federal or state government steps in and offers to put up the money, it's unlikely that there will be any realistic preparedness for a large-scale incident."

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.