- By George I. Seffers
- Sep 18, 2000
Navy and Marine Corps medical personnel for the first time are using computer-based
training to prepare themselves to treat victims of nuclear, chemical and
biological attacks that could occur on the battlefield or in the streets
of U.S. cities.
The product consists of a set of CD-ROMS designed to provide Navy and
Marine medical personnel with in-depth training on how to treat victims
of nuclear, chemical and biological attacks — training that was previously
unavailable. The Navy, which now owns the product, can also use it in its
field hospitals for research and can provide it to the other services, civilian
hospitals, and state and local governments.
Judith Goldman, head of the Naval School of Health Science's audiovisual
interactive medical multimedia department, said nuclear, chemical and biological
weapons can be "frightfully devastating" and that their effects can be especially
difficult to diagnose, requiring medical personnel to be well-trained.
Bernice Zaidel, a training specialist at the Federal Emergency Management
Agency, said that experts trained in treating victims of nuclear, biological
or chemical attacks are few and far between.
"In the chem-bio and radiological field, you can find some trained personnel
in the military but certainly not at the state and local level," Zaidel
said. She added that a similar product used by FEMA "offers state and local
first responders refresher training without having to go to a classroom."
The product developed for the Navy took more than two years to design,
primarily because the shortage of doctors with experience treating nuclear,
chemical and biological attack victims made researching the product difficult.
But that same shortage of experience is the very reason the product is needed,
according to C2 Multimedia Inc., the company that developed the product.
"This is 10 times harder than anything I've done because there are no
experts," said Curtis Cox, president of C2 Multimedia. "Doctors are just
crying for this. They have medical degrees, but they weren't taught to diagnose
someone hit with sarin or botulism or VX. That's not part of the medical
Though not intimately familiar with the C2 Multimedia product, Peter
Le- jeune, a biological terrorism expert, applauds the concept and said
it should be adopted at the state and local levels.
"There are many [hospitals] to be covered, and the current level of
awareness is so low that anything to increase awareness, and possibly skills,
is much needed," said Lejeune, who has co-authored papers on bioterrorism,
served as director of emergency planning and response for New York City,
and is director of BLE Inc. of California.
Navy and Marine doctors will use the C2 Multimedia product to diagnose
virtual soldiers exposed to nuclear, biological and chemical attacks by
observing patients in various stages of affliction, selecting appropriate
examination techniques and assessing the progression of symptoms. Doctors
can also use a virtual body to identify the agent used and determine the
best treatment. A virtual coach critiques the doctors' actions and presents
a best practices version of the scenario.
In addition, the product presents a "Save the World" game, which includes
several possible warfare incidents around the globe. Doctors visit each
of the areas affected by the incidents and identify the type of attack and
the specific agent used.