Mobile chemical detector (AP2C+SP4E) as an aid for medical decision making in the battlefield

Arik Eisenkraft, Gal Markel, Shirley Simovich, Ido Layish, Azik Hoffman, Arseny Finkelstein, Eran Rotman, Tsvika Dushnitsky, Amir Krivoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The combination of the AP2C unit with the SP4E kit composes a lightweight mobile detector of chemical warfare agents (CWA), such as nerve and mustard agents, with both vapor- and liquid-sampling capabilities. This apparatus was recently introduced into our military medical units as an aid for detection of CWA on casualties. Importantly, critical information regarding the applicability in the battlefield was absent. In view of the serious consequences that might follow a proclamation of CWA recognition in battlefield, a high false-positive rate positions the utilization of this apparatus as a medical decision tool in question. We have therefore conducted a field experiment to test the false-positive rate as well as analyze possible factors leading to false-positive readings with this device. The experiment was carried out before and after a 4-day army field exercise, using a standard AP2C device, a SP4E surface sampling kit, and a specially designed medical sampling kit for casualties, intended for medical teams. Soldiers were examined at rest, after mild exercise, and after 4 days in the field. The readings with AP2C alone were compared to the combination of AP2C and SP4E and to the medical sampling kit. Various body fluids served as negative controls. Remarkably, we found a false-positive rate of 57% at rest and after mild exercise, and an even higher rate of 64% after the 4-day field exercise with the AP2C detector alone, as compared to almost no false-positive readings with the combination of AP2C and SP4E. Strikingly, the medical sampling kit has yielded numerous false-positive readings, even in normal body fluids such as blood, urine, and saliva. We therefore see no place for using the medical sampling kit due to an unaccepted high rate of false-positive readings. Finally, we have designed an algorithm that uses the entire apparatus of AP2C and SP4E as a reliable validation tool for medical triage in the setting of exposure to nerve agents in the battlefield. Reprint &

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)997-1001
Number of pages5
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes


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