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January 12, 2000

Domestic Preparedness for Events Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: University of Missouri, Kansas City, School of Medicine. Dr Waeckerle is Chair of the American College of Emergency Physicians' Taskforce of Health Care and Emergency Services Professionals on Preparedness for Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Incidents.

JAMA. 2000;283(2):252-254. doi:10.1001/jama.283.2.252

Until recently, chemical and biological weapons have not been the focus of domestic planning, unlike our long-standing preparedness for a nuclear attack. Today, however, these weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) are readily available to many countries, including so-called rogue states. Even more alarming, WMDs are a viable alternative to conventional weapons for terrorist groups and disgruntled individuals. This availability, coupled with terrorists' willingness to use these deadly agents, has created a credible and serious threat to the nation's security. The probability of a WMD incident is greater than ever and threatens the United States and other countries with potentially devastating consequences, including widespread death and disease and destruction of societal infrastructure and possibly society itself.1,2

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