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Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) events, natural disasters and mass casualty events represent emergencies that require immediate medical response that may include zoning, triage, decontamination, and treatment. These events can be intentional or unintentional. How the local health care system responds in the immediate aftermath of a CBRN event, natural disaster, or mass casualty event can influence outcomes for affected persons.

  • Chemical emergencies: A chemical emergency occurs when a hazardous chemical has been released and the release has the potential for harming people's health. Chemical releases can be unintentional, as in the case of an industrial accident, or intentional, as in the case of a terrorist attack.

  • Biological emergencies or bioterrorism (BT): Bioterrorism is the intentional use of infectious agents, or germs, to cause illness. Bioterrorism preparedness has been made a national priority. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has worked with state and local health departments to identify and to respond to bioterrorism for several years. The federal response to bioterrorism includes medications, medical supplies, and if necessary, vaccines to protect an affected community.
CBRN types
  • Public Health - Seattle & King County is aware of the need to be prepared for bioterrorism. For the past several years Public Health has worked with the local medical community to increase the ability to detect and respond to a bioterrorist attack. Public Health has also developed bioterrorism response plans along with the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    If a bioterrorist event occurs in King County, the public would be informed through the news media, the Public Health website and the King County website regarding the best steps to take to protect one's health.
  • Radiological emergencies: A radiation emergency involves the release of radiation that can harm people's health. This can include an intentional event, like a terrorist event with a dirty bomb or a nuclear blast, or an unintentional event, like a nuclear reactor leak or accident.

  • Nuclear emergencies: A nuclear emergency is the intentional or unintentional release of radiation that can harm people's health.

  • Mass casualty events: Mass casualty (or mass fatality) events can be caused by intentional or unintentional causes. For example, a bombing or natural disaster, like an earthquake, can lead to a mass casualty event.

  • Natural disasters and severe weather: Natural disasters and severe weather are unintentional events that can lead to illness, injury and death, for example an earthquake or tornado.