NY City Now Monitoring
ER Patients For Signs
Of BioChem Attack
NEW YORK (UPI) - Preparing for a chemical or germ attack, New York City has been buying germ detectors, making arrangements for emergency care with regional hospitals and striking deals with drug companies to make medicines available quickly in a crisis.
Officials tell The New York Times that the city began monitoring emergency room admissions two months ago to quickly determine if an attack is under way. They say Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has asked to be personally informed of any suspicious patterns.
Although there has been no recent specific threat of a germ or chemical attack, the city has also undertaken an extensive training program that instructs 4,000 police officers and firefighters how to handle such an emergency.
According to The Times, about 1,500 doctors and nurses in the Big Apple are scheduled for training by outside medical experts in these techniques next week.
Federal and local officials have become increasingly worried about the possibility of germ and chemical attacks in recent years, because of incidents like the World Trade Center bombing and a religious cult's assault on Tokyo with nerve gas and germs.
New York officials say they feel torn between revealing their defensive preparations to reassure the public, and panicking people with doomsday scenarios that in recent attack simulations have easily overwhelmed the city's existing defenses.
A sizable part of the $15 million New York City has devoted to emergency preparations reportedly has been spent on dealing with unconventional threats from terrorists. Five of the 50 people in the city's Office of Emergency Management work full time on this potential problem.
And recently it was revealed that the city is planning to build a command bunker near the World Trade Center which would be protected from germ and chemical attacks, as well as explosions.

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