Chicago hospitals on alert for bioterrorism with NATO in town

The Cook County Health and Hospitals System and the University of Chicago Medical Center will set up their decontamination areas to treat victims of potential bioterrorist attacks during this week’s NATO summit.

The Cook County Health and Hospitals System is the host hospital during the summit and will assume first responder duties in case of an emergency. Any patient of the two hospitals who thinks he has been exposed to biological agents will receive treatment in the decontamination tent or trailer before being able to enter the emergency room, Crain’s Chicago Business reports.

“What we have heard from some of the other host cities is that you’ll get a number of patients who are referred to as the ‘walking well’ who think they’ve been contaminated but haven’t,” Krista Curell, the vice president of risk management at University of Chicago Medical Center, said, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

Curell said that the area will be staffed by trained medical professionals who are prepared for emergency-response procedures. While the term decontamination area seems ominous, the staff anticipates they will mostly treat minor symptoms like dehydration, heat exhaustion, and bumps and bruises. Both hospital systems will also have extra doctors on call on the inside of the hospitals.

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