PDR Guide to Biological and Chemical Warfare Response

By W. Todd Best, CPP

PDR Guide to Biological and Chemical Warfare Response. Edited by John G. Bartlett, David W. Sifton, and Gwynned L. Kelly; published by Thomson Healthcare, 201/358-7200 (phone), (Web); 404 pages; $39.95. 

Largely viewed as a remote risk as recently as a few years ago, chemical and biological attacks have now taken center stage in terrorism prevention and response planning. As with all threats that first enter the public consciousness, there's a lot of misunderstanding about these kinds of attacks. This guide will help. Fifty-one toxic agents are discussed, including signs and symptoms as well as possible treatments.

The guide is designed primarily for clinicians and first responders who will be charged with diagnosing and preventing or treating disease caused by weaponized biological or chemical attacks. Though security managers are not the target audience, they may find the information useful.

For example, the guide offers realistic information on the threat toxins pose in terms of communicability and effects. The discussion helps to dispel myths. A useful chapter on medical safety describes precautions to take with exposed persons. Resources for purchasing protective clothing are also provided.

In addition, security managers can benefit by gaining the perspective of medical responders, in the process seeing a bigger picture of all the coordination involved among multiple parties and agencies during a public health threat or crisis.

A helpful outline titled "How to Use this Book" provides a concise explanation of each chapter, with references to other information sources. Thought-provoking, authoritative, and comprehensive, this guide belongs on the shelf of any professional serious about understanding chemical and biological attacks.

Reviewer: W. Todd Best, CPP, is an Air Force reservist and the assistant security manager for the City of Kansas City, Missouri. He served in the Middle East and Europe as an Air Force security specialist for 12 years. He is a member of ASIS International.



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