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First Aid for Chemical & Biological Attacks

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US Army First Aid Manual
Fundamental Criteria for First Aid
Basic Measures for First Aid
First Aid for Special Wounds
First Aid for Fractures
First Aid for Climatic Injuries
First Aid for Bites and Stings
First Aid in Toxic Environments
First Aid for Psychological Reactions
Appendix A: First Aid Case and Kits, Dressings, and Bandages
Appendix B: Rescue and Transportation Procedures
Appendix C: Common Problems/Conditions
Appendix D: Digital Pressure
Appendix E: Decontamination Procedures
Appendix F: Glossary

First Aid for Chemical & Biological Attacks

7-3. Classification

a. Chemical agents may be classified according to the primary physiological effects they produce, such as nerve, blister, blood, choking, vomiting, and incapacitating agents.

b. Biological agents may be classified according to the effect they have on man. These include blockers, inhibitors, hybrids, and membrane active compounds. These agents are found in living organisms such as fungi, bacteria and viruses.


    Ingesting water or food contaminated with nerve, blister, and other chemical agents and
    with some biological agents can be fatal. NEVER consume water or food which is
    suspected of being contaminated until it has been tested and found safe for consumption.

7-4. Conditions for Masking Without Order or Alarm

Once an attack with a chemical or biological agent is detected or suspected, or information is available that such an agent is about to be use, you must STOP breathing and mask immediately. DO NOT WAIT to receive an order or alarm under the following circumstances:

  • Your position is hit by artillery or mortar fire, missiles, rockets, smokes, mists, aerial sprays, bombs, or bomblets.

  • Smoke from an unknown source is present or approaching.

  • A suspicious odor, liquid, or solid is present.

  • A toxic chemical or biological attack is present.

  • You are entering an area known or suspected of being contaminated.

  • During any motor march, once chemical warfare has begun.

  • When casualties are being received from an area where chemical or biological agents have reportedly been used.

  • You have one or more of the following symptoms:

    o An unexplained runny nose.

    o A feeling of choking or tightness in the chest or throat.

    o Dimness of vision.

    o Irritation of the eyes.

    o Difficulty in or increased rate of breathing without obvious reasons.

    o Sudden feeling of depression.

    o Dread, anxiety, restlessness.

    o Dizziness or light-headedness.

    o Slurred speech.

  • Unexplained laughter or unusual behavior is noted in others.

  • Numerous unexplained ill personnel.

  • Buddies suddenly collapsing without evident cause.

  • Animals or birds exhibiting unusual behavior and/or sudden unexplained death.

For further information, see FM 3-4.

7-5. First Aid for a Chemical Attack (081-831-1030 and 081-831-1031)

Your field protective mask gives protection against chemical as well as biological agents. Previous practice enables you to mask in 9 seconds or less or to put on your mask with hood within 15 seconds.

a. Step ONE (081-831-1030 and 081-831-1031). Stop breathing. Don your mask, seat it properly, clear and check your mask, and resume breathing. Give the alarm, and continue the mission. Keep your mask on until the "all clear" signal has been given.


    Keep your mask on until the area is no longer hazardous and you are told to unmask.

b. Step TWO (081-831-1030). If symptoms of nerve agent poisoning (paragraph 7-7) appear, immediately give yourself a nerve agent antidote. You should have taken NAPP several hours prior to exposure which will enhance the action of the nerve agent antidote.


    Do not inject a nerve agent antidote until you are sure you need it.

c. Step THREE (081-831-1031). If your eyes and face become contaminated, you must immediately try to get under cover. You need this shelter to prevent further contamination while performing decon procedures on areas of the head. If no overhead cover is available, throw your poncho or shelter half over your head before beginning the decon process. Then you should put on the remaining protective clothing. (See Appendix F for decon procedure.) If vomiting occurs, the mask should be lifted momentarily and drained--while the eyes are closed and the breath is held--and replaced, cleared, and sealed.

d. Step FOUR. If nerve agents are used, mission permitting watch for persons needing nerve agent antidotes and immediately follow procedures outlined in paragraph 7-8b.

e. STEP FIVE. When your mission permits, decon your clothing and equipment.

Back to First Aid in Toxic Environments

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