Home Podcasts THMG034 – WMD, Part I

THMG034 – WMD, Part I


In part one of a two-part series on weapons of mass destruction (WMD), Bob and Mike begin discussing and breaking down various WMD-related terms.

Complete Show Notes

6:00 Introduction to WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction)

  • We have to be able to recognize these events – the only way for us to prepare is through brute force learning and a basic knowledge of the signs and symptoms of a WMD issue
  • Nobody really has much experience in this field – they may have experience with handling these substances, but very few people have a working knowledge of their effects
  • Most common associated with terrorism
  • Depending on where you live, WMD incidents may be mitigated by the fire department and then turned over to the police – alternately, the police may handle the entire process
  • As responders, we need to know what the chain of command is in terms of different agencies

11:15 Scene Size-Up

  • There are several things we have to consider to properly respond to a WMD incident
  • Occupancy and location
    • What’s the target?
    • Can be symbolic or historical buildings, public buildings, controversial businesses (i.e. abortion clinics), infrastructures (i.e. power stations), and more
  • Type of event
    • Active shooter
    • B-NICE
    • MCI
  • Timing of the event
    • Holiday, historically significant date, the Super Bowl, etc.
  • On-scene warning signs
    • Unexplained sicknesses, illnesses, or deaths
    • Unusual odors or tastes
    • Vapor clouds and mists
    • Unusual fires
    • Anything that seems “off” to you

16:30 Hazmat Drill Nugget from Hazsim Training Systems

  • Mass decon and how you can drill to prepare for it

18:15 Competencies You Should Review

  • Read these in succession:
    • Competencies for Awareness
    • Competencies for Operations
    • Competencies for Technicians
    • Competencies for Specialist Employees
    • Competencies for Incident Commanders
    • Competencies for Hazmat Officers
    • Competencies for Tech with Specialties – tank car, rail car, intermodal, marine tank vessels, etc.

19:30 B-NICE

  • B – Biological
    • Types of biological agents:
    • Bacteria
      • Single-celled living organisms that don’t require a living host
      • Includes substances like anthrax, which produces spores that can live for a long time in conditions that would kill bacteria
      • Other examples include brucellosis, cholera, plague, and tularemia
    • Viruses
      • These require a host to help them replicate
      • Examples include Venezuelan equine encephalitis and viral hemorrhagic fever
    • Rickettsia
      • These have traits of bacteria, but need a host (like viruses)
    • Toxins
      • These are non-living chemical compounds produced by bacteria, plants, and animals
      • Toxins produce effects that are similar to chemical agents
      • Examples include botulism, ricin, and saxitocin
      • Toxins are NOT contagious
  • N – Nuclear
    • These types of incidents aren’t common because the materials are difficult to get and sneak around
    • Types of nuclear agents:
    • Ionizing radiation
      • Includes alpha, beta, gamma, and neutron radiation
    • Non-ionizing radiation
      • This energy doesn’t completely remove an electron from an atom – instead, it excites it to the next state of energy
  • I – Incendiary
    • Incendiary is defined as a flammable substance that’s ignited to burn a larger target
    • Explosives, on the other hand, are substances designed to function by explosion or through a chemical reaction within themselves
    • The main reason why explosives are so dangerous because they combine an oxidizer and a fuel
  • C – Chemical
  • E – Explosives
    • Types of explosives:
      • Low explosives
        • These are known to deflagrate (blow up) at a speed that’s slower than the speed of sound
        • It’s not really important for us to care about whether it’s detonation or deflagration – just run or shelter
        • They have more of a propelling effect than a shattering effect
        • Don’t need much to explode – most of the time, a flame or even an acid/flame reaction set the wheels in motion
        • Examples include black powder, smokeless powder, and solid rocket fuel
      • High explosives
        • These are known to detonate, which means they explode with speeds greater than the speed of sound (i.e. instantaneous combustion)
        • Usually need something else to explode, like blasting caps or a lower-order explosive
        • Term “high explosive” can be further broken down into primary, secondary, and tertiary explosives based on how much energy they need to explode

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