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Chicago Area Medical Sites Drill For "Dirty Bomb" Attack on NATO Summit

Hundreds of Chicago-area medical personnel and volunteers practiced responding to a radiological "dirty bomb" attack last week as part of efforts to prepare for this month's high-profile NATO summit, FOX Chicago News reported (see GSN, April 24).

A minimum of 10 hospitals close to the city and roughly 500 health workers and volunteers took part in the simulated response to a radiological event.

"We want to make sure that , as we're getting close to the NATO summit, that our staff are ready and trained and able to take care of our community," NorthShore University HealthSystem emergency preparedness chief Brigham Temple said.

Medical workers in the drill wore protective gear and used radiation monitors to assess "victims" who in the scenario were contaminated with the lethal radioactive substance cesium.

A dirty bomb attack would use conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material across a wide area. Such an event would produce far fewer casualties than a nuclear strike but is also significantly more likely to occur, authorities believe.

Temple said the exercise was developed with assistance from the U.S. Homeland Security Department and the Secret Service.

'If something does happen, God forbid, we'll be ready to do something about it," physician Michael George said.

President Obama is scheduled to attend the May 20-21 summit, along with the leaders of Australia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and other nations.

The U.S. government has said it has no evidence of a looming terrorist strike in the country but is urging more caution around the one-year anniversary of the killing of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden (Mike Flannery, FOX Chicago News, April 27).

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