"Real" Deal about Nuclear, Bio, and Chem Attacks
Since the media has decided to scare everyone with
predictions of chemical, biological, or nuclear
warfare on our turf I decided to write a paper and
keep things in their proper perspective. I am a
retired military weapons, munitions, and training
Lesson number one: In the mid 1990's there were a
series of nerve gas attacks on crowded Japanese
subway stations. Given perfect conditions for
an attack less than 10% of the people there were
injured (the injured were better in a few hours)
and only one percent of the injured died. 60
Minutes once had a fellow telling us that one drop
of nerve gas could kill a thousand people, well he
didn't tell you the thousand dead people per drop
was theoretical. Drill Sergeants exaggerate how
terrible this stuff was to keep the recruits awake
in class (I know this because I was a Drill Sergeant
too). Forget everything you've ever seen on TV, in the
movies, or read in a novel about this stuff, it was
all a lie (read this sentence again out loud!)!
These weapons are about terror, if you remain calm,
you will probably not die. This is far less scary
than the media and their "Experts," make it sound.
Chemical weapons are categorized as Nerve, Blood,
Blister, and Incapacitating agents. Contrary to the
hype of reporters and politicians they are not weapons
of mass destruction. Instead, they are "Area denial",
and terror weapons that don't destroy anything. When
you leave the area you almost always leave the risk.
That's the difference; you can leave the area and
the risk; soldiers may have to stay put and sit
through it and that's why they need all that spiffy gear.
These are not gasses, they are vapors and/or air borne
particles. The agent must be delivered in sufficient
quantity to kill/injure, and that defines when/how it's
used. Every day we have a morning and evening inversion
where "stuff," suspended in the air gets pushed down.
This inversion is why allergies (pollen) and air
pollution are worst at these times of the day. So, a
chemical attack will have it's best effect an hour of
so either side of sunrise/sunset. Also, being vapors
and airborne particles they are heavier than air so
they will seek low places like ditches, basements and
underground garages. This stuff won't work when it's
freezing, it doesn't last when it's hot, and wind spreads
it too thin - too fast. They've got to get this stuff on
you, or, get you to inhale it for it to work. They also
have to get the concentration of chemicals high enough
to kill or wound you. Too little and it's nothing, too
much and it's wasted.
What I hope you've gathered by this point is that a
chemical weapons attack that kills a lot of people is
incredibly hard to do with military grade agents and
equipment so you can imagine how hard it will be for
terrorists. The more you know about this stuff the
more you realize how hard it is to use.
We'll start by talking about nerve agents. You have
these in your house, plain old bug killer (like Raid)
is a nerve agent. All nerve agents work the same way;
they are cholinesterase inhibitors that mess up the
signals your nervous system uses to make your body
function. It can harm you if you get it on your skin
but it works best if they can get you to inhale
it. If you don't die in the first minute and you
can leave the area you're probably gonna live.
The military's antidote for all nerve agents is atropine
and pralidoxime chloride. Neither one of these does
anything to cure the nerve agent, they send your body
into overdrive to keep you alive for five minutes,
after that the agent is used up. Your best protection is
fresh air and staying calm. Listed below are the
symptoms for nerve agent poisoning.
Sudden headache, dimness of vision (someone you're
looking at will have pinpointed pupils), runny nose,
excessive saliva or drooling, difficulty breathing,
tightness in chest, nausea, stomach cramps, twitching of
exposed skin where a liquid just got on you.
If you are in public and you start experiencing these
symptoms, first ask yourself, did anything out of the
ordinary just happen, a loud pop, did someone spray
something on the crowd? Are other people getting sick
Is there an odor of new mown hay, green corn, something
fruity, or camphor where it shouldn't be?
If the answer is yes, then calmly (if you panic you
breathe faster and inhale more air/poison) leave the
area and head up wind, or, outside.
Fresh air is the best "right now antidote". If you
have a blob of liquid that looks like molasses or
Kayro syrup on you; blot it or scrape it off and
away from yourself with anything disposable. This
stuff works based on your body weight, what a crop
duster uses to kill bugs won't hurt you unless you
stand there and breathe it in real deep, then lick
the residue off the ground for while. Remember they
have to do all the work, they have to get the
concentration up and keep it up for several minutes
while all you have to do is quit getting it on
you/quit breathing it by putting space between you
and the attack.
Blood agents are cyanide or arsine which effect
your blood's ability to provide oxygen to your
tissue. The scenario for attack would be the same
as nerve agent. Look for a pop or someone
splashing/spraying something and folks around there
getting woozy/falling down. The telltale smells are
bitter almonds or garlic where it shouldn't be. The
symptoms are blue lips, blue under the fingernails
rapid breathing. The military's antidote is amyl nitride
and just like nerve agent antidote it just keeps your
body working for five minutes till the toxins are used up.
Fresh air is the your best individual chance.
Blister agents (distilled mustard) are so nasty that
nobody wants to even handle it let alone use it. It's
almost impossible to handle safely and may have delayed
effect of up to 12 hours. The attack scenario is also
limited to the things you'd see from other chemicals. If
you do get large, painful blisters for no apparent reason,
don't pop them, if you must, don't let the liquid from the
blister get on any other area, the stuff just keeps on
spreading. It's just as likely to harm the user as the
target. Soap, water, sunshine, and fresh air are this
Bottom line on chemical weapons (it's the same if they
use industrial chemical spills); they are intended to
make you panic, to terrorize you, to herd you like sheep
to the wolves. If there is an attack, leave the area
and go upwind, or to the sides of the wind stream.
They have to get the stuff to you, and on you. You're
more likely to be hurt by a drunk driver on any given
day than be hurt by one of these attacks. Your odds get
better if you leave the area. Soap, water, time, and
fresh air really deal this stuff a knock-out-punch.
Don't let fear of an isolated attack rule your life.
The odds are really on your side.
Nuclear bombs. These are the only weapons of mass
destruction on earth. The effects of a nuclear bomb
are heat, blast, EMP, and radiation. If you see a
bright flash of light like the sun, where the sun
isn't, fall to the ground! The heat will be over a
second. Then there will be two blast waves, one
out going, and one on it's way back. Don't stand
up to see what happened after the first wave;
anything that's going to happen will have happened
in two full minutes.
These will be low yield devices and will not level
whole cities. If you live through the heat, blast,
and initial burst of radiation, you'll probably live
for a very very long time. Radiation will not create
fifty foot tall women, or giant ants and grass hoppers
the size of tanks. These will be at the most 1 kiloton
bombs; that's the equivalent of 1,000 tons of TNT.
Here's the real deal, flying debris and radiation will
kill a lot of exposed (not all!) people within a half
mile of the blast. Under perfect conditions this is
about a half mile circle of death and destruction,
but, when it's done it's done. EMP stands for Electro
Magnetic Pulse and it will fry every electronic device
for a good distance, it's impossible to say what and
how far but probably not over a couple of miles from
ground zero is a good guess. Cars, cell phones,
computers, ATMs, you name it, all will be out of
There are lots of kinds of radiation, you only need
to worry about three, the others you have lived with
for years. You need to worry about "Ionizing radiation",
these are little sub atomic particles that go whizzing
along at the speed of light. They hit individual cells
in your body, kill the nucleus and keep on going.
That's how you get radiation poisoning, you have so
many dead cells in your body that the decaying cells
poison you. It's the same as people getting radiation
treatments for cancer, only a bigger area gets radiated.
The good news is you don't have to just sit there
and take it, and there's lots you can do rather than panic.
First; your skin will stop alpha particles, a page of a
news paper or your clothing will stop beta particles,
you just gotta try and avoid inhaling dust that's
contaminated with atoms that are emitting these things and
you'll be generally safe from them.
Gamma rays are particles that travel like rays (quantum
physics makes my brain hurt) and they create the same
damage as alpha and beta particles only they keep going
and kill lots of cells as they go all the way through
your body. It takes a lot to stop these things,
lots of dense material, on the other hand it takes
a lot of this to kill you.
Your defense is as always to not panic. Basic hygiene
and normal preparation are your friends. All canned
or frozen food is safe to eat. The radiation poisoning
will not effect plants so fruits and vegetables are OK if
there's no dust on em (rinse em off if there is). If you
don't have running water and you need to collect rain
water or use water from wherever, just let it sit for
thirty minutes and skim off the water gently from the top.
The dust with the bad stuff in it will settle and the
remaining water can be used for the toilet which will
still work if you have a bucket of water to pour in
Finally there's biological warfare. There's not much
to cover here. Basic personal hygiene and sanitation
will take you further than a million doctors. Wash your
hands often, don't share drinks, food, sloppy kisses,
etc., ... with strangers. Keep your garbage can with a
tight lid on it, don't have standing water (like old
buckets, ditches, or kiddie pools) laying around to
allow mosquitoes breeding room. This stuff is carried
by vectors, that is bugs, rodents, and contaminated
material. If biological warfare is so easy as the TV
makes it sound, why has Saddam Hussein spent twenty
years, millions, and millions of dollars trying to
get it right? If you're clean of person and home you
eat well and are active you're gonna live.
Overall preparation for any terrorist attack is the
same as you'd take for a big storm. If you want a gas
mask, fine, go get one. I know this stuff and I'm not
getting one and I told my Mom not to bother with one
either (how's that for confidence). We have a week's
worth of cash, several days worth of canned goods
and plenty of soap and water. We don't leave stuff
out to attract bugs or rodents so we don't have them.
These people can't conceive a nation this big with this
much resources. These weapons are made to cause panic,
terror, and to demoralize. If we don't run around like
sheep they won't use this stuff after they find out it's
no fun. The government is going nuts over this stuff
because they have to protect every inch of America.
You've only gotta protect yourself, and by doing that,
you help the country.
Finally, there are millions of caveats to everything I
wrote here and you can think up specific scenarios
where my advice isn't the best. This letter is supposed
to help the greatest number of people under the greatest
number of situations. If you don't like my work, don't
nit pick, just sit down and explain chemical, nuclear,
and biological warfare in a document around three pages
long yourself. This is how we the people of the United
States can rob these people of their most desired goal,
SFC Red Thomas (Ret)
Armor Master Gunner
Unlimited reproduction and distribution is authorized. Just give me credit for my work, and, keep in context.