[Fwd: A Soldier's Viewpoint on Surviving Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Attacks]

Stephen D. Williams sdw@lig.net
Tue, 11 Mar 2003 14:46:41 -0500


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Forwarded from a friend of mine:

A little perspective article...


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sdw

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          <p><b><font size="5">A Soldier's Viewpoint on Surviving Nuclear,
          Chemical and Biological Attacks&nbsp;</font><font size="3"><br>
          From: SFC Red
          Thomas (Ret)<br>
          Armor Master Gunner<br>
          Mesa, AZ</font></b></p>
          <p><font size="3">Unlimited
          reproduction and distribution is authorized. Just give me credit for
          my work, and, keep in context.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">Since the media
          has decided to scare everyone with predictions of chemical,
          biological, or nuclear warfare on our turf I decided to write a paper
          and keep things in their proper perspective. I am a retired military
          weapons, munitions, and training expert.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">Lesson number
          one: In the mid 1990s there were a series of nerve gas attacks on
          crowded Japanese subway stations. Given perfect conditions for an
          attack less than 10% of the people there were injured (the injured
          were better in a few hours) and only one percent of the injured died.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">60 Minutes once
          had a fellow telling us that one drop of nerve gas could kill a
          thousand people, well he didn't tell you the thousand dead people per
          drop was theoretical.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">Drill Sergeants
          exaggerate how terrible this stuff was to keep the recruits awake in
          class (I know this because I was a Drill Sergeant too). Forget
          everything you've ever seen on TV, in the movies, or read in a novel
          about this stuff, it was all a lie (read this sentence again out
          loud!). These weapons are about terror, if you remain calm, you will
          probably not die. This is far less scary than the media and their
          &quot;Experts,&quot; make it sound.</font></p>
          <p><b><font size="4">Chemical Weapons</font></b></p>
          <p><font size="3">Chemical weapons
          are categorized as nerve, blood, blister, and Incapacitating agents.
          Contrary to the hype of reporters and politicians they are not weapons
          of mass destruction they are &quot;area denial,&quot; and terror
          weapons that don't destroy anything. When you leave the area you
          almost always leave the risk. That's the difference; you can leave the
          area and the risk but soldiers may have to stay put and sit through it
          and that's why they need all that spiffy gear.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">These are not
          gasses, they are vapors and/or air borne particles. The agent must be
          delivered in sufficient quantity to kill/injure, and that defines
          when/how it's used. Every day we have a morning and evening inversion
          where &quot;stuff,&quot; suspended in the air gets pushed down. This
          inversion is why allergies (pollen) and air pollution are worst at
          these times of the day.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">So, a chemical
          attack will have it's best effect an hour of so either side of
          sunrise/sunset. Also, being vapors and airborne particles they are
          heavier than air so they will seek low places like ditches, basements
          and underground garages. This stuff won't work when it's freezing, it
          doesn't last when it's hot, and wind spreads it too thin too fast.
          They've got to get this stuff on you, or, get you to inhale it for it
          to work. They also have to get the concentration of chemicals high
          enough to kill or wound you. Too little and it's nothing, too much and
          it's wasted.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">What I hope
          you've gathered by this point is that a chemical weapons attack that
          kills a lot of people is incredibly hard to do with military grade
          agents and equipment so you can imagine how hard it will be for
          terrorists. The more you know about this stuff the more you realize
          how hard it is to use.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">We'll start by
          talking about nerve agents. You have these in your house, plain old
          bug killer (like Raid) is nerve agent. All nerve agents work the same
          way; they are cholinesterase inhibitors that mess up the signals your
          nervous system uses to make your body function. It can harm you if you
          get it on your skin but it works best if they can get you to inhale
          it. If you don't die in the first minute and you can leave the area
          you're probably gonna live. The military's antidote for all nerve
          agents is atropine and pralidoxime chloride. Neither one of these does
          anything to cure the nerve agent, they send your body into overdrive
          to keep you alive for five minutes,<br>
          after that the agent is used up. Your best protection is fresh air and
          staying calm.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3"><b>Listed below are
          the symptoms for nerve agent poisoning:</b></font></p>
          <p><font size="3">Sudden headache,
          Dimness of vision (someone you're looking at will have pinpointed
          pupils), runny nose, excessive saliva or drooling, difficulty
          breathing, tightness in chest, nausea, stomach cramps, twitching of
          exposed skin where a liquid just got on you.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">If you are in
          public and you start experiencing these symptoms, first ask yourself,
          did anything out of the ordinary just happen, a loud pop, did someone
          spray something on the crowd? Are other people getting sick too? Is
          there an odor of new mown hay, green corn, something fruity, or
          camphor where it shouldn't be? If the answer is yes, then calmly (if
          you panic you breathe faster and inhale more air/poison) leave the
          area and head up wind, or, outside.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">Fresh air is the
          best &quot;right now antidote.&quot; If you have a blob of liquid that
          looks like molasses or Kayro syrup on you; blot it or scrape it off
          and away from yourself with anything disposable. This stuff works
          based on your body weight, what a crop duster uses to kill bugs won't
          hurt you unless you stand there and breathe it in real deep, then lick
          the residue off the ground for a while. Remember they have to do all
          the work, they have to get the concentration up and keep it up for
          several minutes while all you have to do is quit getting it on
          you/quit breathing it by putting space between you and the attack.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">Blood agents are
          cyanide or arsine which effect your blood's ability to provide oxygen
          to your tissue. The scenario for attack would be the same as nerve
          agent. Look for a pop or someone splashing/spraying something and
          folks around there getting woozy/falling down. The telltale smells are
          bitter almonds or garlic where it shouldn't be. The symptoms are blue
          lips, blue under the fingernails rapid breathing.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">The military's
          antidote is amyl nitride and just like nerve agent antidote it just
          keeps your body working for five minutes till the toxins are used up.
          Fresh air is the your best individual chance.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">Blister agents
          (distilled mustard) are so nasty that nobody wants to even handle it
          let alone use it. It's almost impossible to handle safely and may have
          delayed effect of up to 12 hours. The attack scenario is also limited
          to the things you'd see from other chemicals. If you do get large,
          painful blisters for no apparent reason, don't pop them, if you must,
          don't let the liquid from the blister get on any other area, the stuff
          just keeps on spreading. It's just as likely to harm the user as the
          target. Soap, water, sunshine, and fresh air are this stuff's enemy.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">Bottom line on
          chemical weapons (it's the same if they use industrial chemical
          spills); they are intended to make you panic, to terrorize you, to
          heard you like sheep to the wolves. If there is an attack, leave the
          area and go upwind, or to the sides of the wind stream. They have to
          get the stuff to you, and on you. You're more likely to be hurt by a
          drunk driver on any given day than be hurt by one of these attacks.
          Your odds get better if you leave the area. Soap, water, time, and
          fresh air really deal this stuff a knock-out-punch. Don't let fear of
          an isolated attack rule your life. The odds are really on your side.</font></p>
          <p><b><font size="4">Nuclear Weapons</font></b></p>
          <p><font size="3">Nuclear bombs.
          These are the only weapons of mass destruction on earth. The effects
          of a nuclear bomb are heat, blast, EMP, and radiation. If you see a
          bright flash of light like the sun, where the sun isn't, fall to the
          ground! The heat will be over a second. Then there will be two blast
          waves, one out going, and one on it's way back. Don't stand up to see
          what happened after the first wave; anything that's going to happen
          will have happened in two full minutes.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">These will be low
          yield devices and will not level whole cities. If you live through the
          heat, blast, and initial burst of radiation, you'll probably live for
          a very, very long time. Radiation will not create fifty foot tall
          women, or giant ants and grass hoppers the size of tanks. These will
          be at the most 1 kiloton bombs; that's the equivalent of 1,000 tons of
          TNT.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">Here's the real
          deal, flying debris and radiation will kill a lot of exposed (not
          all!) people within a half mile of the blast. Under perfect conditions
          this is about a half mile circle of death and destruction, but, when
          it's done it's done. EMP stands for Electro Magnetic Pulse and it will
          fry every electronic device for a good distance, it's impossible to
          say what and how far but probably not over a couple of miles from
          ground zero is a good guess. Cars, cell phones, computers, ATMs, you
          name it, all will be out of order.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">There are lots of
          kinds of radiation, you only need to worry about three, the others you
          have lived with for years. You need to worry about &quot;Ionizing
          radiation,&quot; these are little sub atomic particles that go
          whizzing along at the speed of light. They hit individual cells in
          your body, kill the nucleus and keep on going. That's how you get
          radiation poisoning, you have so many dead cells in your body that the
          decaying cells poison you.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">It's the same as
          people getting radiation treatments for cancer, only a bigger area
          gets radiated. The good news is you don't have to just sit there and
          take it, and there's lots you can do rather than panic. First; your
          skin will stop alpha particles, a page of a news paper or your
          clothing will stop beta particles, you just gotta try and avoid
          inhaling dust that's contaminated with atoms that are emitting these
          things and you'll be generally safe from them.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">Gamma rays are
          particles that travel like rays (quantum physics makes my brain hurt)
          and they create the same damage as alpha and beta particles only they
          keep going and kill lots of cells as they go all the way through your
          body. It takes a lot to stop these things, lots of dense material, on
          the other hand it takes a lot of this to kill you.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">Your defense is
          as always to not panic. Basic hygiene and normal preparation are your
          friends. All canned or frozen food is safe to eat. The radiation
          poisoning will not effect plants so fruits and vegetables are OK if
          there's no dust on em (rinse em off if there is). If you don't have
          running water and you need to collect rain water or use water from
          wherever, just let it sit for thirty minutes and skim off the water
          gently from the top. The dust with the bad stuff in it will settle and
          the remaining water can be used for the toilet which will still work
          if you have a bucket of water to pour in the<br>
          tank.</font></p>
          <p><b><font size="4">Biological Weapons</font></b></p>
          <p><font size="3">Finally there's
          biological warfare. There's not much to cover here. Basic personal
          hygiene and sanitation will take you further than a million doctors.
          Wash your hands often, don't share drinks, food, sloppy kisses, etc.,
          .... with strangers. Keep your garbage can with a tight lid on it,
          don't have standing water (like old buckets, ditches, or kiddie pools)
          laying around to allow mosquitoes breeding room. This stuff is carried
          by vectors, that is bugs, rodents, and contaminated material. If
          biological warfare is so easy as the TV makes it sound, why has Saddam
          Hussein spent twenty years, millions, and millions of dollars trying
          to get it right? If you're clean of person and home you eat well and
          are active you're gonna live.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">Overall
          preparation for any terrorist attack is the same as you'd take for a
          big storm. If you want a gas mask, fine, go get one. I know this stuff
          and I'm not getting one and I told my Mom not to bother with one
          either (how's that for confidence). We have a week's worth of cash,
          several days worth of canned goods and plenty of soap and water. We
          don't leave stuff out to attract bugs or rodents so we don't have
          them.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">These people
          can't conceive a nation this big with this much resources. These
          weapons are made to cause panic, terror, and to demoralize. If we
          don't run around like sheep they won't use this stuff after they find
          out it's no fun. The government is going nuts over this stuff because
          they have to protect every inch of America. You've only gotta protect
          yourself, and by doing that, you help the country.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">Finally, there
          are millions of caveats to everything I wrote here and you can think
          up specific scenarios where my advice isn't the best. This letter is
          supposed to help the greatest number of people under the greatest
          number of situations. If you don't like my work, don't nit pick, just
          sit down and explain chemical, nuclear, and biological warfare in a
          document around three pages long yourself. This is how we the people
          of the United States can rob these people of their most desired goal,
          your terror.</font></p>
          <p><font size="3">SFC Red Thomas
          (Ret)<br>
          Armor Master Gunner<br>
          Mesa, AZ</font></p>
          <p>&nbsp;</td>
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