The speed and efficiency of your response to any CRBN incident are critical to its success
The speed and efficiency of CBRN response are critical to its success

Michael Peters and John Breedlove of Intelagard, Inc., industry leaders in CBRN decontamination and containment and fire suppression, explain how best to prepare for and respond to a CBRN incident.

"CBRN responders, you must honestly assess your current capabilities to determine what is needed to strengthen the effective response to a CBRN incident. Your initial response will have a dramatic impact on the final outcome. Consider collateral and residual damage factors.

Continue to develop or improve capabilities over time following a defined plan. Many of the technologies used in response to an incident may also be used as every day tools.

The first signs of a CBRN event may be discovered via hindsight. Indications may be subtle or hard to separate from normal "background" levels. "Eyes on the street" such as doctors, businessmen, public transportation workers and teachers should be trained to look for and report signs of a possible incident.

As soon as an incident is recognized, response time and effectiveness are critical. Initial actions for maximum response efficiency can lessen the need for remediation later. Recognize and plan for the impacts of an imprecise response - and remember to never assume that a situation is safe.

Chemical weapons are simple to make and deploy. Typically, a limited area is affected, yet impacts may be devastating. Biological threats may be manmade, such as the 2001 anthrax mailings in the US, or naturally occurring, such as avian flu or tuberculosis. Dirty bombs (Radiological Dispersion Devices, or RDD) may not include an explosive device. There may be no bang or any other obvious clue that a release has even taken place. Discovery may be after-the-fact, when people exhibit symptoms or with remote detection monitors.

The technology and materials for dirty bombs and improvised nuclear devices are not hard to acquire. While a radiological attack may be primarily economic, contamination of historic or symbolic targets can generate significant psychological impacts along with related terror and panic. A plan of recovery is critical for symbolic, historic, governmental or financial targets where demolition and abandonment are not viable options.

Take action now. Demystify the process. Make event drills as common as fire drills, to eliminate terror as a factor. Focus on an effective response to maximize recovery while minimizing long term damage (including economic and psychological). Employ tools for CBRN recovery that may be used for additional applications while waiting for that day. The more frequent the use, the better trained personnel will be for effective response.


Consider your resources - do you have enough responders who are properly trained to cope with CRBN emergencies?
Consider your resources - do you have enough CRBN-trained responders?


Emergency responders should consider a number of alternate routes to any locale in case critical infrastructure is damaged.  Local responders trained on pre-positioned equipment may provide the most effective and timely response. Consider the resources that you have that are functional and available during planning exercises.

There may be abandoned vehicles, broken gas and water mains, uncontrolled fires, downed power lines, impassable roads, frantic parents trying to find children, scared children looking for parents and more at the scene of an incident. Do you have an adequate number of trained responders with resources to deal with these factors?

Civilian responders should know how to shut off air intake systems in the buildings where they work and live, where their children go to school, and possibly where they shop to keep from drawing contaminated air into the building, and making the situation much worse.

What plans are in place in case water systems fail or become contaminated? Contaminated water can't be used to fight fire without spreading contamination. How will you know if the water is safe? What's the plan if water can't be used? Who knows the flow pattern of storm water drain systems? If the water is contaminated, what impact may it have? What's the plan to stop or divert the flow of contaminated water? How are you going to handle contaminated waste, and where are you going to dispose of it? Who is responsible for the waste stream and impacts?

More citizens than just traditional first responders should be trained. Consider including teachers, transportation workers, civic leaders, and others. Equip responders in advance, which may include personal protective equipment in high-risk areas. Responders must be able to immediately respond to the initial incident with pre-positioned equipment and supplies, and be well trained. Have secondary response capabilities available to recover impacted areas to limit economic damage. Establish personnel to deal with human impacts (injured and dead), other personnel to deal with impacted physical locations to minimize economic impact, and another group to minimize psychological impacts (to deal with panic, help connect parents with children, know where the injured have been transported, and effect rumor control).

Advanced familiarity with response tools is critical. Make them every day tools so when emotions are intensified, rather than paralysis, people will take action. Prepare for panic, which may exacerbate the problem and make contamination control more difficult. Take charge and have a viable, effective plan.

Have means ready to identify contaminant(s), including levels and extent. Identify the contaminated area, control the spread, and keep responders safe. Transport the injured and dead. Pre-identify hospitals and morgues, and consider transportation options if the infrastructure is down or if individuals, alive and dead, are contaminated. Don't make the situation worse. For example, an RDD spreads radiological contaminants. While tacking the contaminants in place is required, using available materials such as paint or oil to tack contaminants in place will make recovery more difficult. Not only is the area still contaminated, now you have to remove the paint or oil as well.

Consider a combined solution for immediate deployment. A well chosen decontaminant may be used for both chemical and biological agents and is benign to equipment, PPE and the environment. Use the same solution for industrial accidents, natural biological events (H5N1, TB, staph infections etc.), and other domestic applications. That makes the solution more broad spectrum, and provides opportunities for hands on training.

Keep up with evolving CBRN weapons. Decontaminants must be designed to remediate sophisticated weaponized agents as well as common materials, such as mold and bacteria, to make the solution more cost effective. It also allows for cross training and increased familiarity with technology, equipment and procedures.

Utilize the same deployment systems for CBRN events, fire suppression, mold remediation, vapor suppression and HAZMAT response. Deployment systems such as those offered by Intelagard are scaleable and economical, and can be used for all of these applications and more. The more applications for the deployment system, the more economical it becomes and the more training opportunities present themselves.

Choose scalable deployment systems to stretch between large- and small-scale hazmat and CBRN applications
Choose scalable deployment systems to stretch between large- and small-scale hazmat and CBRN applications


What resources do you already have? What could be pressed into service in an emergency? Recovery of radiologically contaminated extraction solutions can be completed by using modified everyday equipment. It can be truck mounted, using manifolds for large recovery operations, or smaller systems for localized recovery.

Commercial evaporation units are available for radiological waste concentration. Grouting concentrated radiological waste is an economical approach for disposal. Commercially available waste treatment equipment may be utilized in emergency situations for waste handling. This is an identifiable, existing resource which may be repurposed in an emergency. A cement mixer might also be used. You may have more resources than you realize. All of these items must be integrated into a cohesive plan prior to an actual event.

While it is tempting to save the budget, chances are good that your responsibility is to save lives and property. Using multi-functional deployment systems and decontamination solutions appropriate for multiple purposes is economical AND will provide you with the tools you need to save lives and property. Being caught unprepared will cost much more in terms of lives and property than preparation ever will. The choice is yours. Choose wisely.

Michael Peters & John Breedlove - Intelagard, Inc.

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Deutsche Messe Postpones INTERSCHUTZ By One Year Due To The Outbreak Of COVID-19
Deutsche Messe Postpones INTERSCHUTZ By One Year Due To The Outbreak Of COVID-19

INTERSCHUTZ, which was scheduled for June 2020, will be postponed by one year. This is the mutual decision of the organizers and partners of the trade fair for fire and rescue services, civil protection, safety and security. The reason is the coronavirus, which directly affects both exhibitors and visitors of INTERSCHUTZ and requires them to be available for duty at other locations. INTERSCHUTZ will now take place from 14 to 19 June 2021 in Hannover. About three months before the actual start of the event, it is now certain that the next INTERSCHUTZ will take place in summer 2021. Exhibiting Emergency Aid Organizations More than 150,000 visitors from all over the world attend INTERSCHUTZ "The people who under ordinary conditions would have come to INTERSCHUTZ in June this year are precisely those who are most needed due to the coronavirus crisis," says Dr. Andreas Gruchow, Member of the Managing Board, Deutsche Messe AG. "As INTERSCHUTZ, we are part of the industry. With our decision, we therefore take responsibility and provide security in planning". More than 150,000 visitors from all over the world attend INTERSCHUTZ. However, in times of pandemic, helpers and rescuers are needed to maintain supplies and security. The same applies to exhibiting emergency aid organizations or authorities with security tasks whose capacities are needed elsewhere. Digital Deployment Technology But also exhibitors from the industry are directly or indirectly involved in the crisis situation, such as manufacturers of protective equipment, suppliers of digital deployment technology or even vehicle manufacturers whose customers cannot or are not allowed to visit a trade fair in this situation. We therefore would like to wish all the players and the entire INTERSCHUTZ community" "We were on an excellent path – and we are aiming for a strong INTERSCHUTZ," says Gruchow. "Under the current conditions, however, this is not possible. We therefore would like to wish all the players and the entire INTERSCHUTZ community all the best and every strength for the tasks ahead. We will see each other in Hannover in June 2021, where we will have the opportunity to take a detailed and analytical look at the pandemic – and what we can learn from it". Enormous Number Of Organizational Consequences Postponing a trade fair on the scale of INTERSCHUTZ has an enormous number of organizational consequences. The 29th German Firefighters' Day will also be postponed until next year: "The synergy between the trade fair and the top firefighters' meeting is important to us - the postponement is a joint decision," explains Hermann Schreck, permanent representative of the President of the German Firefighters' Association (DFV). The most important questions arising from such a postponement for exhibitors and visitors of INTERSCHUTZ will be published in an FAQ on the INTERSCHUTZ homepage. Further questions will be clarified via the usual communication channels. INTERSCHUTZ has a network of strong partners who have also voted for a postponement and who will now work with Deutsche Messe to set the course for a successful event in June 2021. Facing Special Challenges Dirk Aschenbrenner, President of the German Fire Protection Association (vfdb): "vfdb as a strong supporter of INTERSCHUTZ welcomes the decision. As a network of experts for protection, rescue and security, we spoke out without hesitation in favor of postponing INTERSCHUTZ after the latest developments.” The postponement of INTERSCHUTZ is both responsible and appropriate" “Especially as organizers of the non-commercial segment of INTERSCHUTZ, we know that thousands and thousands of members of the fire brigades, rescue services and disaster control have been waiting for the world's leading trade fair with enthusiasm. But we also know that they in particular are sympathetic. After all, they will be facing special challenges in their daily work over the coming weeks and months. Our greatest concern is the safety of the population. The postponement of INTERSCHUTZ is both responsible and appropriate in view of the current situation.” Operational Readiness Of The Fire Brigades “We are also aware that even if the situation eases, the numerous exhibitors from Germany and abroad will still need sufficient time for their INTERSCHUTZ preparations. As vfdb, we will use the remaining months to process and communicate this event, which is highly relevant for civil protection. As regrettable as the current, unprecedented situation is, we will learn from it. And INTERSCHUTZ 2021 will undoubtedly be supplemented by a further topic." Hermann Schreck, permanent representative of the president of the German Fire Brigade Association (DFV): "We were very much looking forward to the 29th German Firefighters' Day and INTERSCHUTZ. However, in view of the development of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, maintaining the operational readiness of the fire brigades and rescue services has top priority for us in all considerations. The planning for the DFV's large joint exhibition stand and the accompanying events will of course continue at national and international level." Manufacturers Of Firefighting Technology INTERSCHUTZ is the future forum for the firefighting technology industry" Dr. Bernd Scherer, Member of the VDMA Executive Board, and Managing Director, VDMA Fire Fighting Equipment: "INTERSCHUTZ is the future forum for the firefighting technology industry, an industry that produces safety for people. In the current situation, this applies even more – to emergency and rescue services, but also to industry.” “After all, manufacturing companies also face ambitious challenges in economic terms, for example when proven supply chains are interrupted or production sites are affected by quarantine measures. Fortunately, none of this has yet been the case for manufacturers of firefighting technology. On the contrary: We are still in a unique economic boom phase.” Innovative Technology And Committed People “Nevertheless, or perhaps precisely because of this, we would like to hold an INTERSCHUTZ trade fair in which all forces are concentrated on what makes this unique exhibition of our industry so special: innovative technology and committed people who are completely dedicated to fire protection and rescue services. We look forward to it – together with you in June 2021!" For Rosenbauer, the health of all our visitors and partners, has absolute priority" Michael Friedmann, Head of Group Strategy, Innovation and Marketing, Rosenbauer International AG: "As a system provider in fire and disaster control, we have been committed to the safety of people and the protection of society for 150 years. For Rosenbauer, the health of all our visitors and partners, as well as that of our employees, has absolute priority. This is why Rosenbauer stands fully behind the postponement of the fair. We are certain that the industry's leading fair will be a great success in 2021 as well!" Economic Interests And Actions Werner Heitmann, Head of Marketing Fire Brigades and Authorities, Drägerwerk AG & Co. KGaA: "Our INTERSCHUTZ motto 'We protect you. At all times.' also means that we are now acting prudently and protecting all those involved in INTERSCHUTZ considering the current situation. We therefore support the postponement of the fair. The majority of visitors at our exhibit have always been fire brigades and aid organizations.” “As part of the critical infrastructure in Germany, it is essential to protect the emergency services to the best of our ability and not to expose them to unnecessary risks. The rescue forces must be prepared for action. Furthermore, we had planned a very large trade fair team in Hannover – we also have to protect them. Health and life always take precedence over all economic interests and actions of Dräger. In other words, 'Technology for Life'."

First Responders on the Front Lines as COVID-19 Continues to Spread
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First responders are on the front lines of the latest health crisis that involves spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Around the country – and around the world – EMS departments are facing the uncertainties of a rapidly-spreading virus. One problem is a shortage of face masks. As cases surge, it will also be harder for ambulance companies to get other needed supplies. In King County, Wash., an epicenter of COVID-19 cases in the United States, Kirkland, Wash., firefighters and Kirkland police officers were placed under quarantine after an outbreak at a senior care facility. Firefighters were either quarantined at home or at a local fire station. These first responders came in contact with the coronavirus at Life Care Center of Kirkland, where dozens of residents and staff were infected. Quarantine for IAFF members Some members of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) in Washington state were under quarantine for possible exposure to COVID-19.It is not the first time EMS has acted as the canary in the coal mine to protect the public" The heightened role of fire and EMS professionals is playing out everywhere. “It is not the first time EMS has acted as the canary in the coal mine to protect the public,” Oren Barzilay of the New York EMT union told the New York Daily News. “And it won’t be the last.” FDNY Not Sending Firefighters to COVID-19 Calls The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) has stopped sending firefighters to answer medical calls that describe symptoms associated with the coronavirus. Instead, calls for asthma attacks, fever, coughs and difficult breathing are being handled by the Emergency Medical Service. Fire companies with certified first responder (CFR) training, which would ordinarily accompany ambulances on such calls, are being asked to “stand down.” The order refers to “Segment 2” calls, although firefighters will continue to respond to higher priority “Segment 1” calls. Union complaint in Boston When coronavirus testing began taking place at Faulkner Hospital in Boston, Mass., the EMS union complained because paramedics working at the facility were not notified of the possible workplace contamination. The EMT substation at the hospital includes a bunk room and contains equipment and supplies. The union complained to the Boston Public Health Commission, which provided assurances they were doing “everything in [their] power to protect EMTs and paramedics.” East Pierce, Wash., Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Russ McCallion created a checklist for medics and fire crews to consider when responding to a potential coronavirus patient. He reminds crews to perform “doorway triage” of patients to decide when to wear protective equipment and when to use special entryways at the hospital reserved for people in isolation.Complicating the decision-making processes is the fact that flu symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms are similar Complicating the decision-making processes is the fact that flu symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms are similar. “We have to maintain the high index of suspicion on every call [if] the patient presents with fever, coughing and other flu-type symptoms,” McCallion told National Public Radio. Fire crews are now instructed to wait outside when responding to such calls. They wait while a few medics enter, suited up with personal protection equipment such as gowns, gloves and masks. Dedicated ambulance in San Antonio In San Antonio, a dedicated ambulance is used to transport patients suspected of COVID-19 infection. The interior walls of the dedicated ambulance are covered completely with plastic sheets. The vehicle will be dedicated to the COVID-19 mission “throughout” and will not be used on the streets of San Antonio. Congress has approved emergency funding for states. The money will be used for testing, to track those who are sick, and for awareness campaigns to slow the spread of the virus.  Public health emergency A public health emergency has been declared by the U.S. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as of Jan. 31. The declaration enables state, tribal and local health departments to request funding, supplies and resources from DHHS to respond to COVID-19.The declaration enables state, tribal and local health departments to request funding, supplies and resources China alerted the World Health Organization in December to several cases of an unusual pneumonia in Wuhan, a port city of 11 million people in the central Hubei province. In January, officials identified the new virus as belonging to the coronavirus family, which includes SARS and the common cold. It was named COVID-19 and has since spread to all of mainland China and later throughout the world.

U.S. Fire Administration Provides Support at State and Local Levels
U.S. Fire Administration Provides Support at State and Local Levels

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