We are currently living in unsettling times where there is threat from terrorism and wider political landscapes. The risk from CBRN is ever increasing due to advancements in technology and increased willingness of terrorists using unconventional weapons. In 2018, a nerve agent ‘Novichok’ was used in Salisbury in the UK where 6 people were affected, with 1 of them dying. The incident posed significant challenges on the emergency services, requiring a large operational response in staff, specialised personnel, and equipment. The Novichok incident was a specifically targeted attack on a small scale, but it required a large-scale response.
In 1994 the Aum Shinrikyo cult conducted a Sarin nerve agent attack in Matsumoto that killed 8 people and injured 660. Again in 1995 the cult conducted a Sarin attack in a Tokyo subway, 13 people died, and 6,226 were injured. Both incidents required large scale responses from the Japanese emergency services and large numbers of specialist responders and equipment were required.
Although recent publicly known terrorism events within the UK have mainly been Marauding Terrorism Attacks (MTA) where individuals attack people in the open with weapons, significant risk is still posed from a CBRN threat. As from the examples in Japan, CBRN attacks can cause high numbers of casualties and require specialist resources. For an emergency responder, dealing with a CBRN incident will likely pose significant challenges and require use of training that isn’t practiced often.