Fourth Agent Resources Available


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EMS News

Fourth Agent Resources Available 
New resources are available to help the public safety community protect themselves and save lives during emergencies involving fourth generation nerve agents 

Following the incidents in the United Kingdom in 2018 involving a fourth generation agent, the National Security Council convened a federal interagency working group to identify and develop resources to help the emergency response community prepare for and respond to a fourth generation agent incident if one ever occurs in the U.S. These resources support the development of specific guidelines and training to enhance overall preparedness efforts.

These resources are available for U.S. emergency response professionals seeking to learn more about the agent used in the U.K. and how to protect themselves and respond if such incidents ever occur in their communities. Fourth generation agents, known as Novichok agents or A-series agents, belong to a category of chemical warfare agents originally developed in the former Soviet Union. No illicit use or manufacture of a fourth generation agent or other nerve agent is known to have occurred in the U.S., and there is no known threat of nerve agent use in the U.S. 

The following resources were developed and tailored to various segments of the emergency response community and are available on the Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management (CHEMM) website at

  • Safety Awareness for First On-Scene Responders - Designed to educate and prepare first responders for situations when law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services personnel are first to arrive on scene and initially may be unaware that a fourth generation agent is present. This document will assist departments and agencies develop specific guidance and training to enhance overall preparedness efforts.
  • Reference Guide - Designed to educate and prepare hazardous materials response teams, the guide includes chemical and physical properties of fourth generation agents as well as detection, firefighting, personal protective equipment, and decontamination recommendations for situations when responding to a known or suspected fourth generation agent incident. This guide will assist hazardous materials response teams develop specific guidance and training to enhance overall preparedness efforts.
  • Medical Management Guidelines - Designed to educate and prepare fire, EMS, and hospital staff and guide the medical management of patients exposed or potentially exposed to a fourth generation agent.

These new resources are based on information available as of January 9, 2019 and previously developed federal guidance related to nerve agent emergency response, and they will be updated as new data becomes available that can further support any response to a potential fourth generation agent incident.

Federal experts involved in developing the resources came from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Office of Emergency Medical Services and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration), Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Environmental Protection Agency.