Paramedics are being equipped with an antidote to some of the deadliest nerve agents amid fears terrorists are plotting a chemical strike on Britain.
Thousands of frontline medics have already received the epipen-style devices that could combat VX or sarin, the as well as training on what to do in a mass casualty attack.
Security chiefs fear those inspired by Islamic State have ‘no moral objection’ to using the substances to murder and spread panic.
Malaysian police say the North Korean leader’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam was killed by the nerve agent VX at Kuala Lumpur airport in February.
VX is ten times more deadly than sarin and is considered the most dangerous nerve agent ever created. It has been classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the UN.
Propaganda posted online by the terror group urges followers to try to obtain chemical weapons.
Documents obtained by the Daily Mail reveal major health trusts are issuing nerve agent auto-injector devices to frontline staff.
First carried by soldiers, these are effective in treating so-called organophosphate poisons, which include sarin and VX.
Both chemicals can cause death within minutes by attacking the body’s nervous system. Victims may initially feel giddy or nauseous before suffering uncontrollable convulsions as they struggle to breathe.
A London Ambulance Service spokesman confirmed a ‘national programme’ is under way. ‘Our frontline staff are being taught to use nerve agent antidote kits,’ she said.
‘Once rolled out later this year, the pen-like device will be available for our staff to use if they or patients are exposed to a nerve agent.
The pen-like device, which has a needle inside, is administered like an epipen, and releases the antidote to relieve the effects of any nerve agent.’
Counter-terror police and special forces soldiers undertook a major exercise to prepare for a chemical or biological attack earlier this year.
According to the major incident plan of one big city ambulance trust, ‘large stocks’ of nerve agent antidote kits are now being carried by their support units.
Frontline ambulances also carry a pack of ten epipens for use by paramedics on themselves if they display symptoms of nerve agent exposure.
Staff have been told it is essential they administer the antidote to themselves before trying to treat others.
The epipens contain atropine and pralidoxime which are administered one after the other via auto-injections in the thigh.
The drugs freeze nerve receptors and stop them being overwhelmed by the toxins.
Security expert Raffaello Pantucci, of the Royal United Services Institute, said the roll-out was a ‘sensible precaution’ as ‘the worst case scenario is first responders could become victims instead of saving lives’.
Source: Mail Online