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Prehospital management of sarin nerve gas terrorism in urban settings: 10 years of progress after the Tokyo subway sarin attack

Yasuharu Tokuda, Makiko Kikuchi, Osamu Takahashi, Gerald H Stein
Resuscitation 2006, 68 (2): 193-202
16325985
Chemical agents have been used previously in wartime on numerous occasions, from World War I to the Gulf War. In 1994 and 1995, sarin nerve gas was used first in peacetime as a weapon of terrorism in Japan. The Tokyo subway sarin attack was the first large-scale disaster caused by nerve gas. A religious cult released sarin gas into subway commuter trains during morning rush hour. Twelve passengers died and about 5500 people were harmed. Sarin is a highly toxic nerve agent that can be fatal within minutes to hours. It causes the clinical syndrome of cholinergic hyperstimulation by inhibition of the crucial enzyme acetylcholinesterase. Therapy of nerve agent toxicity is divided into three categories, decontamination, respiratory support, and antidotes. All of these therapies may be given simultaneously. This article reviews toxicology and management of this acute chemical emergency. To help minimize the possible catastrophic impact on the public, we make several recommendations based on analysis of the Tokyo subway sarin attack and systematically review the current scientific literature.

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