Chicago to Replace Nerve, Germ Agent Antidotes

Chicago has begun seeking out companies to replace the city's aging supply of biological and nerve agent treatments to prepare health officials to respond to attacks involving such weapons, the Chicago Sun-Times reported (see GSN, Nov. 16).

Chicago issued a "request for qualifications" from firms hoping to provide "duodote auto injection nerve agent antidotes" to boost the "chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive preparedness" of emergency responders in the city.

The bid request statement said health officials would use the treatments if "nerve agent or other weapons of mass destruction" were used to attack the city.

Kevin Smith, an official for Chicago's emergency management and communications office, said the new antidotes would improve the city's readiness but would not specify how many treatments would be purchased with federal grant money.

According to Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford, the department currently possesses about 5,000 treatments and roughly 3,800 of those antidotes have been supplied to first-response companies.  Chicago would draw from a national stockpile of 25,000 treatments, he said.

"They have a shelf-life of about five years and a lot of them are starting to approach their shelf-life.  Just like medical drugs.  If you don't use 'em, they have to be discarded and replaced," Langford said.

Chicago first began stockpiling nerve and biological agent antidotes after a 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on Tokyo's subway killed 11 riders, injured 50 people and temporary damaged the vision of nearly 1,000 others (Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times, Nov. 28).

November 28, 2007
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Chicago has begun seeking out companies to replace the city's aging supply of biological and nerve agent treatments to prepare health officials to respond to attacks involving such weapons, the Chicago Sun-Times reported (see GSN, Nov. 16).