Situation: EMS and fire first-response crews are dispatched to a local hotel. There is a high school basketball tournament in town with teams from all over the state. Today, you're called there for the third time...this time for a "male with general illness". You encounter the patient who is complaining of flu-like symptoms and a non-productive cough for several days. He also notes a fever of 102F and general aches and pains. Self medicating with with over the counter cold preparations for over a week, they are no longer helping. He appears ill, tiered, but hemodynamically stable.
Would you recognize this situation as a potential biological exposure?
In addition to your standard body substance isolation, what (if any) protective measures would you deploy?
What additional information would help you identify the possibility of exposure and raise your situational awareness?
While it is unlikely that the initial responders would identify an intentional biological event based on one patient contact, they should be aware of the potentials of a naturally occurring biological event. Since most of biological agents (naturally occurring or intentionally released) have an incubation period of 7-14 days, a biologic event can be talking hold of an area prior to signs/symptoms developing. Responders have to be on the lookout for patterns or clusters of illnesses. Situational awareness of outbreaks of "cold and flu" symptoms or unusually large number of calls for people with similar illness patterns, should clue the responder to the potential of an evolving biological event.
Give the questions above some thought.