“Nerve agent” is not the first thing to enter one's mind when responding to an unconscious victim in a suburban or small-town setting.
Last year, several people in the United Kingdom were poisoned using fourth generation nerve agents. Two victims were targeted and a few months later two others were accidentally exposed. At the first incident, first responders donned hazmat gear because they feared fentanyl and had no idea a nerve agent was involved. The incidents could have sickened or killed dozens of responders.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released several awareness guides to help first responders in the United States prepare for an unlikely fourth generation nerve agent incident. The guides provide information to all first responders and related fields.
Fourth generation agents are in the chemical warfare category and pose unique challenges to first responders. They differ from other nerve agents in that:
For training on chemical incidents, the Center for Disaster Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston, Alabama, offers a variety of related courses for first responders. The CDP offers courses on biological and toxic agents for first responders and hospital personnel.