It’s all about the data: Responding to international chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear incidents

After digesting lessons from US operations during the Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan, the White House National Security Council staff created several interagency working groups to examine procedural issues associated with responding to international chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) incidents. What emerged were best practices and lessons learned designed to transform data to decisions across the many levels of government during an international CBRN incident for those people making life-saving and life-sustaining choices. Actions at both the strategic and operational levels are needed to enable a country to more effectively transfer its domestic response capabilities and infrastructure to an international consequence management response. International complications include varying organizational relationships and legal authorities; resource limitations in overseas jurisdictions; nonstandard sources and formats of information; differing public health and protection standards; and language barriers. The technical data needed for emergency personnel to safely and effectively respond to CBRN incidents are especially difficult to obtain, require specialized analytical tools to process, and demand particular procedures for sharing in an international context. Without addressing these issues up front, any country responding to a CBRN event beyond its borders may struggle to effectively respond.

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