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British hospitals present easy terrorist target for CBRNE attacks warns former Athens Olympic security chief

Britain’s insecure hospitals are presenting terrorists planning a dirty bomb attack with a bonus second wave target.

Terrorists detonating a chemical, biological, radioactive or nuclear explosive (CBRNE) device in one location could easily follow up the first attacks with a follow up bomb in anyone of the UK’s hospitals that have been described as ‘wide open’ by security chiefs.

The ill preparedness of medical, ancillary and hospital security staff in dealing with a CBRNE attack would render the hospital useless and potentially contaminated for months after any attack.

This is the assessment of retired Brigadier General Galatas Ioannis, who served as Commandant of the Olympic Hospital CBRNE Response Unit during the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Any hospital suffering an attack would have to be shut down, trapping existing patients and blast attack victims within the confines of the hospital until authorities were satisfied the survivors and area were safely decontaminated.

Galatas gave the warning at the London Counter Terror Expo which paid particular attention to security at the London Olympics.

He described a scenario where terrorists would plant an incendiary explosive device designed to spread deadly germs, nerve agents or radioactive material over a large area.

Casualties would result from those caught in the primary explosion and secondary victims contaminated with the ‘dirty’ element of the bomb.

The effect could then be multiplied by terrorists targeting the hospitals to which the victims would be dispatched, a move calculated to create overwhelming strain on the contingency and resilience of the authorities.

Hospital wards, intensive care units and mortuaries would be rendered off limits to all but a few trained staff benefiting from protective clothing and equipment.

All these facilities in most hospitals are currently inadequate to cope with mass bomb casualties followed by contamination.

There are few isolation wards and there are no contingencies in place for contaminated waste water management.

Galatas asks: Is there one NHS or an acute care hospital that is in a state of preparedness for such an action that could happen at an event like the Olympics either it is top secret or nobody cares.

He added: The British Government has left each NHS trust to plan for CBRNE contingency so each trust has bought what it wanted to which in most cases means there is no equipment compatibility from trust area to area.

Hospitals are an easy target, people can come and go with ease, security staffs are basic and poorly trained and there are few if any fences at most UK hospitals.

In the event of a major attack followed by a secondary strike on a hospital, the hospital would have to shut down its services to the general public and be treated as a contaminated area.

The walking wounded would have to be turned away by security staffs that are not trained in the use of Personal Protective Equipment.

Faced with the possibility of contamination themselves the hospital staff would retreat from contaminated patients locking themselves in a safe area of the hospital building or fleeing the area completely.

They would not want to come into contact with contaminated victims they could not help anyway.

Galatas does offer solutions to meet the CBRNE threat that includes increased future medical training, laboratories to be equipped with more germ and nerve samples so contaminated materials can be identified quickly.

Terror medicine should be included in all medical training, more nuclear medical departments and biological labs created.

Non medical hospital staff educated in how to respond and support and facilitate fixed decontamination units in hospitals.

Crucially hospital buildings should have enhanced security.

Galatas advises: When planning think like a terrorist – when implementing think of a victim.

Further information:

Syrian chaos threatens to provide Chemical and Biological weapons shopping basket for terrorists

Spokesmen for the Anti Assad, Syrian National Council, have warned the probability of Jihadi terrorists acquiring chemical and biological weapons will increase exponentially if the Assad regime collapses.

Islamist salafist radicals fighting the regime or regime allies Hezbollah could acquire some or all of Syria’s massive stockpile of chemical and biological weapons.

Syria possess large quantities of sarin nerve gas, Tabon gas, VX gas and mustard blister agent.

The stockpiles are stored in over 37 facilities across the Syria.

The regime has also at least five chemical weapon production facilities located in the cities of Homs, Hama, Latakia, Palmyra and al-Safira, and two storage depots in the towns of Khan Abu Shamat and Furqlus.

Syria’s neighbours Jordan and Israel fear the regime might transport its chemical weapons to Hezbollah, as it already has with many of its missile stockpiles.

United States and British intelligence agencies also fear the weapons will fall into the hands of Jihadi Salafists for the purpose of international terrorist attacks.

M15 chief Jonathan Evans warned that Jihadi terrorists still pose a direct threat to the Olympics and beyond in a rare speech last month.

Stressing the Arab Spring has created a more permissive environment for Jihadi extremists Evans said: “Some are heading home to the Arab world again” adding:

“And a small number of British would-be jihadis are also making their way to Arab countries to seek training and opportunities for militant activity, as they do in Somalia and Yemen.”

Some will return to the UK and pose a threat here.

This is a new and worrying development.

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