This study evaluated the preparedness of Emergency Departments (EDs) in the greater
Philadelphia area to evaluate and treat victims of a terrorist biological or chemical
agent release. All hospitals with EDs in the survey target area were included. A survey
instrument consisting of 38 questions was mailed to the physician director of each
ED. Fifty-four of 62 directors returned usable surveys. This represented an overall
response rate of 88.5%. Deficiencies in preparedness were identified involving physician
training and education, antidote stocking, written policies, interagency agreements,
and decontamination facilities. The overall level of preparedness for hospital EDs
responding to this survey was low based on a set of predetermined, implicit criteria.
Comprehensive plans should be developed and implemented to remedy the identified deficiencies.