SLU Health and Security Expert Discusses the Importance of America Preparing for a Chemical Attack
Source Newsroom: Saint Louis University Medical Center
St. Louis - Alexander Garza, M.D., associate dean for public health practice and associate professor of epidemiology at Saint Louis University, discusses how America should prepare for a chemical attack in light of the recent nerve gas attack in Syria.
“When these types of chemical weapons get in the wrong hands it creates a dangerous situation that could be a potential threat to the U.S. as well,” said Garza, former Assistant Secretary of Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
When an event of this nature occurs, Garza says it has the potential to open the door to other terrorist elements or rogue nations that maybe would have hesitated in the past, especially if they were backed into a corner.
"We have seen examples of the adoption of techniques and tactics such as with improvised explosive devices, ricin attacks and suicide bombings," he said.
“It’s highly unlikely that something like that would happen here, however it is not impossible. This is what we refer to as a low probability, high impact threat, so although the risk is low, the impact can be devastating and because of this it is important for U.S. to focus on security measures to prevent acquisition, mitigate the consequences and prepare our nation to respond in what would obviously be a difficult situation,” said Garza.
First and foremost it’s important for the U.S. Intelligence to think about who has control of these chemicals and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands with the possibility of entering the US, Garza explained.
“In the event that a chemical weapon was used in the US, the important aspects are in mitigating the attack such as using detection technology in high threat, densely populated areas and also training people to respond to such an event,” Garza said. “A chemical attack will not only have physical effects, but also psychological and economics impacts."