It’s Time to Bring Military-Grade CBRN Solutions to First Responders

Originally published It’s Time to Bring Military-Grade CBRN Solutions to First Responders on by https://modernbattlespace.com/2024/07/10/its-time-to-bring-military-grade-cbrn-solutions-to-first-responders/ at Modern Battlespace

 

Soldiers face numerous threats on the battlefield, including some that they can’t even see. These threats have become increasingly common as shifts and changes in modern warfare have increased the number of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) attacks.

As Dr. Scott Combs, the Value Stream Leader for Chemical Sensing and Detection at Collins Aerospace, recently explained, “…sarin and chlorine chemical weapon deployment in Syria, as well as the use of K-51 gas grenades by Russian forces in Ukraine, highlight the continuing need for chemical detection for U.S. military readiness.”

This has led the military to work towards developing and deploying a new, wearable chemical detection solution that every soldier can carry.

However, the threat of exposure to CBRN hazards isn’t limited to soldiers on the battlefield. Other government personnel—including law enforcement and first responders—operate in environments where CBRN hazards may be present.

Americans agree that the health and safety of our first responders and law enforcement personnel is paramount and that they need to be protected from all threats – even those they can’t see. That requires giving law enforcement and first responders access to the same advanced chemical detection solutions being developed for the military.

…new CBRN detection devices could be invaluable for keeping law enforcement and emergency response personnel healthy. And they may soon be available to a wide ecosystem of government employees.

And there’s an incredible, recent example of why these solutions are needed—even for state and local emergency response and law enforcement organizations.

Black smoke over East Palestine, Ohio
In February 2023, a train operated by Norfolk Southern derailed near the town of East Palestine, Ohio, resulting in an environmental and public health disaster that caught the entire nation’s attention.

Approximately 50 of the train’s 149 cars derailed. Of those cars, approximately 20 contained hazardous, flammable, or combustible materials. Many spilled their contents, which caught fire, resulting in dense blackish-grey smoke filling the air. Approximately five of the cars containing vinyl chloride were opened by officials, fearing an explosion. That toxic chemical was then intentionally set on fire, adding to the smoke and fumes.

The result was an ecological disaster that contaminated waterways and killed local wildlife. It also evolved into a public health disaster. Among the wreckage were first responders, law enforcement, and other state and local government personnel that could not evacuate because of their official duties and responsibilities.

These individuals now have to fear the health effects of the disaster, which news reports claim are still impacting citizens today. According to an Associated Press article in April, “More than a year later, residents still complain about respiratory problems and unexplained rashes and nosebleeds, but the greater fear is that people will develop cancer or other serious conditions because of the chemicals…”

Norfolk Southern contractors remove a burned tank car (benzene, residual) from the crash site. (Image courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency.)

But CBRN incidents aren’t limited to large disasters that garner national attention and headlines.

Last year, a Florida man was arrested for injecting chemical agents under his neighbor’s door. According to news reports, “During investigation of the home, an officer who was exposed to the chemicals…experienced skin irritation and received medical treatment.”

In a 2021 incident, law enforcement personnel were dispatched to a chlorine spill in California’s Yucaipa Regional Park, where “victims reported experiencing symptoms including shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, vomiting, blurred vision and dizziness and burning pain on their skin.”

These are just a few examples of first responders and law enforcement personnel being exposed to CBRN hazards. These incidents are a real and common threat for law enforcement personnel and first responders, and they need to be properly equipped to identify and respond to them.

Making threat detection accessible
Companies like Collins Aerospace are developing lightweight, wearable chemical detection devices that could be used by law enforcement and emergency response agencies to protect their personnel.

These devices alert wearers to the presence of a number of chemicals, including commonly encountered industrial chemicals such as ammonia, chlorine, and sulfur dioxide. But they’re not limited to detecting a small number of chemical threats.

…the health and safety of our first responders and law enforcement personnel is paramount…That requires giving law enforcement and first responders access to the same advanced chemical detection solutions being developed for the military.

Many of these new solutions, including the Collins ThreatShield-mini™ solution, can be calibrated to detect other chemicals loaded into the device’s onboard library. The system can be customized to a wide ecosystem of CBRN hazards.

These devices conduct constant air sampling and monitoring, allowing them to detect threats and give emergency response and law enforcement personnel an audible alarm or vibration – alerting them to threats in the area even when they’re not paying attention.

These new CBRN detection devices could be invaluable for keeping law enforcement and emergency response personnel healthy. And they may soon be available to a wide ecosystem of government employees.

Some devices, including Collins Aerospace’s Threatshield-mini™ device, are ongoing careful testing and vetting, with the potential of being made available to procurement officials via the General Services Administration (GSA) electronic buy portal. Should these devices become available, they should be considered standard issue for all law enforcement and emergency response agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The health and safety of America’s law enforcement personnel and first responders is paramount. However, not all threats are visible, and CBRN hazards are increasingly common. It’s time to give these individuals the threat-detection solutions they need to make better decisions and keep themselves safe. The same technologies being developed for America’s warfighters should also be used to protect its heroes at home.

Originally published It’s Time to Bring Military-Grade CBRN Solutions to First Responders on by https://modernbattlespace.com/2024/07/10/its-time-to-bring-military-grade-cbrn-solutions-to-first-responders/ at Modern Battlespace

Originally published Modern Battlespace

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