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December 18, 1991

Operating Under the Threat of Chemical-Biological Warfare

Author Affiliations

Eighth Evacuation Hospital Saudi Arabia

Eighth Evacuation Hospital Saudi Arabia

JAMA. 1991;266(23):3281-3282. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470230039013

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To the Editor.  —On January 20,1991, at 10:15 PM, while serving in the US Army for Operation Desert Storm, surgeons from the Eighth Evacuation Hospital (the first of the army's new Deployable Medical System [DEPMEDS] hospitals) were operating on a 23-year-old soldier for small-bowel obstruction from adhesions.During the procedure, an explosion shook the operating theater, followed by warning sirens. Since this was the third night of Iraqi SCUD missile attacks, we were concerned that the hospital was under attack. Chemical protective masks were immediately donned; the surgeons and surgical technicians regowned and regloved while other members of the team put on their complete chemical protective suits, gloves, and boots. The air conditioning system was immediately turned off.The procedure was completed uneventfully and the "all-clear" siren sounded as the incisional dressings were being applied. The patient had an uncomplicated postoperative recovery. The explosion was apparently a sonic boom from