Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Emergency response

ATSDR represents the Department of Health and Human Services on the National Response Team and works with other agencies to provide technical assistance during emergencies involving hazardous substances, such as chemical spills. In July 2007, for example, ATSDR responded to the Verdigris River flood in Coffeyville, Kansas, after an oil refinery spilled crude oil into the floodwaters, contaminating many homes in the city. ATSDR worked with EPA and state and local authorities to provide health information to local residents and advised those agencies during the clean-up process. ATSDR also assists with responding to terrorism incidents, which have included the September 11 attacks and the 2001 anthrax attacks. ATSDR responded to 132 chemical emergency events in 2008.

In addition to working with communities and other agencies in the aftermath of chemical emergencies, ATSDR has developed the Managing Hazardous Materials Incidents series, which includes several tools to assist emergency medical services personnel and hospital emergency departments during chemical emergencies. This includes important information on emergency planning, emergency response, and rescuer protection. Another tool is the Medical Management Guidelines, which summarize important information on exposure to common chemicals and provide suggestions for safely treating and decontaminating patients.


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