Government agencies issue guidance on preparing for nerve agent exposures

The document covers standard protocols for recognizing, treating, and protecting oneself from nerve agent exposures and compares and contrasts the clinical effects of nerve agents and opioids.


In response to recent nerve agent poisonings in the United Kingdom, three U.S. government agencies have collaborated to release a document, “Nerve Agent Information for Emergency Medical Services and Hospitals.”

The information comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the Department of Homeland Security's Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office, and the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Emergency Medical Services.

The document is intended to serve as a refresher on standard protocols for recognizing, treating, and protecting oneself from nerve agent exposures. It also compares and contrasts the clinical effects of nerve agents and opioids as an aid to distinguishing nerve agent exposure from opioid overdose.

The agencies say that more comprehensive guidance incorporating lessons from the recent exposure of English residents to Novichok, a Russian military-grade nerve agent, will be forthcoming.