The CBRN threat is real – are you prepared?
The CBRN threat is real – are you prepared?

All over the world, the risk of hazardous Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) incidents in military or even civil scenarios is very real, with potentially devastating consequences for people and the environment.

Today, CBRN incidents are some of the most frightening threats faced by society. Owing to modern technology, the production of hazardous substances is easier now than just a few years ago and, with that, the probability of an incident increases. Industrial and agricultural toxic chemicals can be purchased relatively cheaply and easily in most parts of the world.

“It does not really matter how serious a CBRN incident is. An event that, theoretically, may not have any major impact on society, the environment or infrastructure can still generate fear and anxiety in the world,” says Nils-Erik Lindblom, CBRN Specialist at the defence and security company Saab.

In 1995, a Japanese cult released sarin nerve gas in the Tokyo subway. Thirteen people were killed and more than 2,000 injured. Chemical weapons have been used in the Syrian civil war and it is still unclear how many people have lost their lives. And the threat to society is just as real, present and serious. If disaster would strike a chemical factory or nuclear power plant, a catastrophe would be inevitable. The Fukushima disaster is a recent example. Epidemics and diseases, pesticides, and toxic drinking water are further examples of present threats.

“Through research, strategic crisis management, simulations and training we can create a safer and more secure world in which to live. Preparation is everything,” says Nils-Erik.

Being prepared makes all the difference

For many years, a lot of research has been conducted within the CBRN area, and today the world has a vast amount of knowledge and experience from which to draw. There are some conspicuous characteristics associated with a CBRN event, and by studying these it becomes easier to prepare so as to minimize the risks and adverse consequences.

The consequences of CBRN emergencies are likely to stretch national capabilities to their fullest. Responsibility for first response remains with individual nations and it is essential that nations build on their resources in order to respond to and mitigate the consequences of an emergency to lives, property and the environment. A shared vision between countries is also important since CBRN incidents extend far over national borders, natural borders and airspaces.

“Effective risk management requires cooperation and awareness as well as skills within the development of modern technologies able to counter threats and, in order to be sufficiently prepared, we must establish necessary requisite crisis management procedures.”

A CBRN incident affects the whole of society and it is imperative that police, military, government and healthcare services are well-trained and coordinated before an incident occurs. This can best be achieved by setting up a Monitoring and Automatic Warning & Reporting (AWR) system and by training relevant personnel on a regular basis. By utilising Saab’s CBRN Crisis Management System, which includes the CBRN SE (Synthetic Environment) training and simulation system, realistic virtual CBRN dispersions can be enacted as a very effective training method.

“At Saab, we believe this is an extremely important solution that can help nations mitigate the threat posed by CBRN incidents. Our solution is a simulation platform which allows you to train and simulate different scenarios in a very realistic way, without having to disperse real agents.”

Saab is a world-leading CBRN systems integrator, specialising in the design and development of fully integrated end-to-end sensor networks for civil and military applications. With Saab’s CBRN AWR system, CBRN effects are minimised owing to sensors deployed on stationary units, vehicles and personnel.