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Managing Crisis and Response to NBC Incidents (Essay Sample)

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This paper focuses on disaster management and show how the NBC incidents should be handled.

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Content:

Managing Crisis and Response to NBC Incidents (Chemical and Biological)
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Managing Crisis and Response to NBC Incidents (Chemical and Biological)
One of the biggest challenges that governments and local leadership around the world have to face is disaster management. Though there is a huge variance in what encompasses a disaster of national level, especially for a country like the United States with multiple states, what is for sure is that if that disaster is chemical or biological, then it requires the response of the nation as a whole. In the recent past, the threat of such a disaster happening has quadrupled, not only because of the increased industries across the nation and increases in chemical and biotech technology, but also because of an increase in terrorist activity globally, leaving the country’s intelligence community as well as disaster management teams grappling with questions on how such a disaster could be handled (Hillyard, 2000). A clean up process after such an incident would require the coordination of both state and national disaster management teams to be successful.
To increase effectiveness in saving lives and cleaning up, there would also be need to keep a strict adherence to factors such as the type of equipment in use, personal protective clothing for the personnel, as well as set coordinative processes from all sides. The aim of this paper is to create an outline of some of the activities that give a lifeline to such an event. This will be through looking at the basics of managing a crisis with chemical and biological agents, such as the appropriate protective wear, identify devices and equipment that are used for the monitor of these hazardous material, discuss how local and national agencies should coordinate incase of actual events and finally, the paper will also look at some of the specific actual threats from biological and chemical threats.
The human body is very resilient and can withstand a lot, this is common knowledge, but it is also well known that there are elements that are biological and chemical that are very poisonous to the human body (Hillyard, 2000). In the past, some of these agents were used in activities such as hunting for poisonous arrows and even for grim activities such as assassinations (Cirincione, Wolfsthal, & Rajkumar, 2005). In these days however, with an influx in technology, chemical and biological agents and threats have gotten bigger, with such agents getting more potent. However, with the growth in potency of these agents, there has also been an increase in countermeasures, including coming up with suitable protective wear for personnel who have the task or rescuing and cleaning up within hazardous zones.
There are various forms of personal protective equipment used in chemical, biological and nuclear (NBC) disasters. There are personal protective clothing used for different forms of disasters, with the most common being fire protection clothing. Though protective equipment used in firefighting has a similar outlay as the ones used in case of NBC disaster, there is a major difference in that these suits are specifically made to be as fire/heat proof as possible. On the other hand, suits made for NBC incidents major on making the suits as gas tight as possible, as well as making them non-corrosive as possible. Suits used in these incidents are also made as one unit, which increases the effectiveness of these suits, as opposed to if they were made as many small various units such as coats and pants.
Despite the suits used in case of a chemical or biological accident being a single unit, there are various independent components that personnel have to wear together with the suits, depending on the type of crisis. This includes components such as gas masks, hand gloves and protective boots. A part from components of the suit, there is also need for a supply of clean air to the personnel since the air in the hazardous area is not habitable. As stated earlier, the most important feature of the suit is that it has to be gas proof. The material that makes the suit must be in such a fashion that the wearer is not at risk of any gas leaks through the fabric, thus, rubber/nylon materials are commonly used to make the suit’s fabric. There are several measures that are observed as a requirement for these suits, measures without which the personnel’s safety may be at risk.
There are two types of suits used in case of a chemical or biological crisis. The first is the NBC suit, which is the main suit used in case of contamination by chemical, biological and even radiological contamination. A good example of this would be the level A gas tight suit. This suit is the most commonly used by government officials such as in the army since it is the toughest and allows the wearer to perform more physically strenuous activities in hazardous areas (United States, 1997). The second suit is the hazmat suit, which is used in less strenuous activities and is mainly available for civilian use. The difference in these two suits of course is the material that they are made of, with the NBC suit being capable of withstanding harsher conditions for longer, but they do share the similarity of being cumbersome and extremely uncomfortable to work in. However, their function means that they offer a bridge between life and death in case such a crisis takes place.
There are several requirements necessary for such suits. One requirement is that this suit has to be made in such a fashion that allows it to be gas proof. This may require the inclusion of features such as heavy-duty gas tight zippers, as well as chemical resistant safety boots, which have to be specially made to bond or detach with the main suit. The boots should also be made in such a fashion that they allow for easy and safe replacement of worn out boots, all without putting the life of the suits wearer at risk of contamination. A locking cuff mechanism is necessary for the gloves, also to allow for easier and less risky changing after wear out. The suit also has to have exhalation valves that allow the suit to maintain the necessary pressure. Finally, all suits must adhere to national and international standards by undergoing tests such as leak tightness (United States, 1997).
Apart from personal protective wear for the personnel, there are other equipments necessary in case of a chemical/biological crisis. Of great importance to the success of putting up preventive measures as well as in the search and rescue missions in case of any incidents with these agents is the need for detection devices to be used for the monitor of hazardous materials. The ability of responsive teams such as Homeland Security and the military to monitor and detect hazardous material is of great importance since it is a life saving ability.
Over the years, scientists have been struggling to come up with ways through which chemical and biological agents can be identified before they become lethal to the civilian population. Whether it is in industrial areas where the danger of an accident is always there, or in a metropolitan area such as New York or Washington where NBC devices can be used by terrorists, or even natural disasters such as an outbreak of naturally occurring biological agents, the need to get early warnings is of extreme importance.
According to Nicholson, after the 2001 September 11th attack on the USA, there has been a need to put in place detection methods for early warning signs in case a chemical or biological attack were to take place in the country (Nicholson, 2005). According to him, such risks have called for the advancement of technology that enables the monitoring and detection, leading to a buildup of surveillance over the years. There has been an attempt by the respective groups to ensure that these sensors are not only more sensitive and with capabilities to carry out autonomous screening for both pathogen detection as well as the capacity to identify multiple threats from agents such as bacteria, spores, toxins and viruses. The two also claim that such a system requires being less labor intensive, in the sense that they would require less daily involvement in routine operations (Nicholson, 2005).
So the question most people would raise knowing this is what exact kind of technology is out there that scientists have come up with? Well, there are various forms of technology that different laboratories have come up with, some of which is actually very simple and requires very little labor. One such device was made by the Sandia National Laboratories in the late 1990s, and is known as the MicroChemLab. This device has been improved over the years and currently allows for the detection of gas chromatography (GC), the identification of vapors and the ability to detect compounds related to explosives, toxic industrial compounds and pesticides (United States, 1997). Apart from these complex small machines however, there are also natural chemical and biological detectors that scientists have found. The sniffing dog is still quite useful in finding certain chemical strains, but since it is not possible to cover large areas using this method, scientists discovered that wasps also have sniffing capabilities (United States, 1997). According to various researchers, wasps only require constant feeding with sugar sap and then trained on specific strains to sniff and you get one of the best chemical/biological detection systems in the world.
Having identified the detection devices that are available to monitor for hazardous materials, here are the various specific threats from Chemical and Biological Threats.
Biological Threats
The first biological threat is Anthrax. It is a bacterial disease the exits as a spore. It is very resistant to harsh conditions and has the ability to survive in almos...
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