Emergency treatment

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

curriculum."

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.

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