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In the modern society, where terrorism and war have become the order of the day, having effective ability to detect terrorism related hazardous materials has become imperative. It is important to note that individuals, communities and nations whose intentions are to cause havoc have in the recent past equipped themselves with many potential and dangerous weapons. Fortunately, to the common man, the war against terrorism has become a priority for many nations and this has led to many sophisticated advances in the terrorism agent detection field. The modern world has experienced an increase in the availability of effective and sophisticated equipment. Amongst the equipment for responding to terrorist attacks is the detection and air monitoring device which has played a very critical role. Without such devices, emergency responders would be left to work on the assumption that a terrorist agent is already present and this may easily cause severe harm.
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With the advent of detection devices, terrorism situations have become abatable as these devices can be used to detect the real situation at hand. The use of the most appropriate detection devices, accompanied with risk assessments that are accurate, has enabled respondent teams to make precise findings. They can easily and confidently make decisions that are well informed about rescue operations, personal protective equipment, incident severity and decontamination. The field of terrorism agent detection is continuously experiencing a rapid change with innovations that have led to speedy identification of terrorism related hazardous materials. However, these devices face major challenges. For instance, it is difficult for lab-based equipment to be used in emergency responses in streets, thus requiring specialized and advanced training which is not readily available to the ordinary members of the society. This paper focuses on the role played by specific detection and air monitoring devices which are used in fighting hazardous materials associated with terrorism.
Role of Specific Detection and Air Monitoring Devices
The field of terrorism agent detection falls under four main categories, with each category having its own significant detection issues. These include biological issues, chemical issues, radiological issues and explosive issues. Each of the aforementioned categories has its own specific issues and characteristics. Consequently, this implies that they require specific detection devices. One of the most important steps in ensuring a successful response in case of a threat or an attack is rapid identification of the agent that is being used by the terrorist. Specialists in agent detection have so far identified credibility of the threat at hand as the first issue to be recognized in any terrorist attack. In situations where there are false positive ramifications, responders are expected to make use of at least three detection devices (Emergency Film Group.com 2009). In cases where more than one detection technology shows a positive result, there are higher chances that an agent may be present. Thus, rapid identification in such a scenario is very crucial especially for agents which require immediate counter measures.
The role of the responders is not just to detect the terrorism agents, but also to protect their selves and other people who may be at risk. This may be made possible by making use of general detection devices in the first instance before utilizing more specific devices. General detectors normally protect the responders from common hazards that are found to exist with no or little warning. LEL or flammable gas sensors are recommended when it comes to determining the presence of flammable gasses in the affected area (Emergency Film Group.com 2009). It is important to note that not all detection devices are intrinsically safe. For example, a detective device that is not safe in an area with flammable gases could end up creating sparks that may result in explosion hence causing more serious damage.
Radiation Detection Devices
In any detection operation, the first concern is always to find out if there are any radiation agents in the area. The most common types of agents used by terrorists under this category are radiological dispersion devices (RDDs). These are major terrorism related hazardous materials that send fear not only to the public but also to the responders. The utilization of appropriate detection devices can enable responders to deal with threats of radiological incidents effectively and efficiently. In situations where detection devices are lacking, responders may not be in a position to come up with informed decisions about the safety of the public thus resulting to more panic. When an RDD threat from a terrorist attack finds emergency responders trapped in an explosion, a quick monitoring can easily determine if the terrorist agent contained a radioactive source. If the findings are negative, then the responders will have less stress dealing with the potential RDD (Medscape Reference.com 2011).
Explosives detection devices
Explosives fall second under the priority list of hazardous materials that are used by terrorists. Statistics show that explosives are the major form weapons used by many terrorists today. Despite the extensive use of explosives proliferation detection technology universally, the bomb dog has stood the test of time as the most reliable agent of detecting explosives (Medscape Reference.com 2011). Bomb dogs are very common with many squads that deal with bombs. These dogs are normally directed and trained by bomb technicians. Nevertheless, there are many other technologies that are used to detect explosives such as sensors.
Chemical Detection Devices
Chemical weapons may either be industrial chemicals or military chemicals. Most of the chemical weapons used by terrorists today are industrial. For emergency responders to effectively deal with chemical weapon attacks, they are expected to have some capability to use military chemical agent detectors. To improve on their efficiency, most of these devices are nowadays made to serve dual purposes, thus enabling them to detect industrial chemicals as well as military chemicals. Various technologies that can detect chemical agents are currently widely available. Most of them are able to detect very low chemical levels, as little as parts per billion and some even lower amounts than this (Fire Engineering.com 2011). An illustration of one part per billion is like having a single drop of water in approximately 14, 000 gallons of water.
Responders are expected to have high interpretation skills as well as common sense and experience while dealing with chemical explosives. This is because military weapons, for example, can result in quick fatal effects causing visible signs and symptoms to the victims. There has been an exciting development regarding detection devices; technology has enabled the development of a device that has the capability of detecting explosives, military chemical weapons and even common street drugs. Such devices are very sensitive and very vital in the manufacturing of bomb, detection of bombs and conventional explosives. They are extremely sensitive in such a way that they can detect even common street drugs in addition to determining the presence of chemical weapons. These devices have of late covered a lot of base in dealing with HAZMAT crime and potential terrorist event (Fire Engineering.com 2011).
Biological Detection Devices
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This category of agents used by terrorists is the hardest to detect. So far, there is no recognized technology that has been identified to be available for on scene rapid detection of such agents. Crisis situations call for rapid detection of less than a minute and not the current situation that lasts more than twenty minutes. To date, there exists only two main types of detection devices on the street level namely; polymerase chain reaction devices (PCR) and hand held assays (Jensen and Theriault 2009). Biological agent detection is sophisticated and therefore it calls for responders to be sure in their understanding of the limitations of the currently available devices. Most of the detection devices used in this field have been designed to be used in the laboratory and are only modified or adapted so that they may be used in the street. For responders to achieve accurate results, they have to follow the lab-like processes and procedures. The main set back in biological detection is failure of emergency responders to follow provided instructions. In addition, no matter how good the street results may look, they have to be taken to the laboratory for further testing.
Response teams apply specific devices in the risk-based approach to effectively carry out responses that are safe to any potential terrorism scenario. Monitoring equipments are relied upon to provide protection levels that are high and have to be employed at regular basis. Any responder is expected to always make use of detection devices in case of any potential terrorist event. Lack of detection devices will force responders to make use of protective clothing of higher levels which would be unnecessary and may lead to extensive decontamination and evacuation. Consequently, such a scenario may lead to more panic among the victims. Emergency responders usually protect citizens when they make effective use of detection devices on terrorism agents.
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