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public nudity and terrorism

Yes, every topic is eventually linked to terrorism these days. Interesting
article about a different context for public nudity.

We'd rather die than take our clothes off, disaster planners say

By Dru Sefton
Newhouse News Service

WASHINGTON - Add "public nudity" to the nightmare scenarios associated
with terrorist attacks.

A new report by a disaster-planning expert confirms what others have said:
In the event of many biological or chemical attacks, removal of victims'
clothing is one of the most important and effective means of

"You hold them, you strip them and you wash them," said Henry Siegelson,
report author and clinical assistant professor of emergency medicine at
Emory University in Atlanta.

But the reluctance of modest victims to strip naked in front of co-workers
or strangers "has been one of the issues that has prevented us from moving
forward and developing a scheme to manage mass casualties," he said. "Some
people would rather be dead than strip in public."

The situation has occurred several times. On Christmas Eve 1998, an
anthrax threat forced more than 200 at a Mervyn's store in Palm Desert,
Calif., to disrobe and be hosed down in a makeshift tent in the parking

"We tried to give people as much privacy as possible," said Wayde York,
emergency-services coordinator for the Riverside County Fire Department.

Another anthrax decontamination in October 2001 left 24 employees of the
Fifth Third Bank of Naples, Fla., wet and clad only in plastic tarps.

Michelle Balon, marketing director, said she finally ran to a store to
purchase "shorts, T-shirts, anything we could get our hands on."

Both were false alarms.

But those "strip and hose down" decontamination procedures are necessary,
said Siegelson, who helped create the Section of Disaster Medicine for the
American College of Emergency Physicians.

"The mere removal of clothing removes the vast majority of the
contaminant, then the victims can safely enter a bus or ambulance or car
for transportation to a hospital," he said.

Modesty about public nudity has emergency responders rethinking

York said Riverside County now has portable showering facilities with a
private changing area. "And we are not doing mass decontamination without
more evidence," he said.

But Judi Ditzler said she's "just kind of floored" that this nudity would
be a problem.

"It's terribly sad if that's the situation, that people would rather die
than be seen without their clothes on," said Ditzler, editor of Nude and
Natural, the magazine of the Naturist Society, a 27,000-member, Oshkosh,
Wis.-based nudist organization.

Copyright ) 2002 The Seattle Times Company


  Debbie Gray
  We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to
  have the life that is waiting for us." --Joseph Campbell

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