Medical supplies go unused as few survivors found

The New York City Health Department hasn't had to use a major shipment of emergency medical supplies it received last Wednesday from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, according to Sandra Mullen, a spokeswoman for the agency. Unfortunately, she said, not enough victims have been rescued from the rubble of the devastated World Trade Center. "We didn't get the onslaught at the hospitals that, quite frankly, we were hoping for," she said, adding that the medical supply packages, known as push packs, can be accessed at a moment's notice. CDC flew to New York a 12-Hour Push Package, a cornucopia of medical supplies that contains more than 80,000 intravenous fluid bags, hundreds of ventilators, defibrillators, antibiotics and a range of pharmaceuticals. Mullen said the most immediate concern of city health officials is getting workers at the disaster site to don protective masks that prevent inhalation of debris from the collapse of the twin towers and surrounding buildings. Mullen said that the vast majority of workers are probably not taking those precautions. Mental health professionals are also being kept busy, Mullen said. Emergency rooms are seeing cases of patients suffering from shock or trauma in the wake of Tuesday's attacks. Mullen said the city health department is also working with area schools to provide counseling to students. Along with the push pack, CDC sent a 35-person team from the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) to assist New York City hospitals in monitoring any outbreaks of disease, treating respiratory infections and relieving overworked medical staff in the city, according to a statement from the Health and Human Services Department. But they are most busy treating patients with respiratory infections from debris and soot, as well as providing trauma and grief counseling for those who need it. For years, terrorism experts have feared the release of diseases such as anthrax or smallpox , a threat that has come to be known as "bioterrorism." Mullen emphasized "there's a low index of suspicion that there are any biochemical agents involved" in the attack on New York. Likewise, a spokesman for HHS said the agency and the CDC have no reason to believe an act of bioterrorism occurred on Tuesday or anytime thereafter. Mullen added that "the existence of these kinds of [biological] agents makes it de rigueur for us" to take precautions against an outbreak.
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