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Review of emergency medical & diagnostic services

Richard Worth National Defence Spokesperson

21 November 2002

Review of emergency medical and diagnostic services needed

National's Defence Spokesman Richard Worth is calling for a Government review of emergency medical and diagnostic services as part of homeland security procedures in view of a possible anthrax infection in Auckland.

"We are told by media that diagnosis of suspected anthrax powder received in an envelope from America by the Chairman of the Auckland District Health Board could take up to 10 days.

"A diagnostic delay of this magnitude could well be critical in the event that a suspect powder was fed into an air conditioning system serving a high rise building or public amenity, such as a movie theatre.

"The public needs to know that our diagnostic services and emergency medical response procedures are at least up to the mark for rapidly handling chemical or biological incidents provoked by organisations with terrorist links.

"Over recent years our police and fire services have shown their mettle in responding to a range of critical situations. But, thankfully, our emergency medical capabilities and procedures have not been put to similar tests.

"It would seem appropriate in view of the heightened terrorist alert in Australia for the New Zealand Government to review its 'just in case' preparedness and response capabilities. A wait of up to 10 days for suspect substances to be diagnosed is not acceptable if more rapid analyses systems are available," Mr Worth said.


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