Suspicious powder incidents require the right tools for quick action

Apr 04, 2013

First responders know that white powder scenarios—or suspected biological threats—require quick and decisive action. Having the right field-deployable equipment available to determine what the suspicious substance is can be complicated, challenging and expensive.

Recently, the 's Science and Technology Directorate and Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory issued an informative report that summarizes an extensive list of commercially available, hand-portable biodetection technologies. The report—Biodetection Technologies for First Responders—helps end-users such as firefighters, police officers and HazMat workers make informed decisions about procuring the right technology for their particular need and circumstance.

"The report serves as a product buying guide for end-users as well as procurement specialists," says Cindy Bruckner-Lea, PNNL project manager. "It provides specifics and details on dozens of commercially available technologies. This free report will be an important and useful resource for first response teams everywhere."

The release of the report is one part of a larger effort at PNNL to create partnerships with first responders that provide value to all parties. Early on in the process, PNNL conducted dozens of interviews and surveys, and held a workshop at Seattle's Joint Training Facility to better understand first responder biodetection and information needs, gaps and priorities. The exchanges helped researchers have a better grasp of the context by which first responders perform their duties. This leads to better results and the ability to get the best solution faster and more efficiently.

PNNL is also conducting biodetection assay and instrument performance tests for both anthrax and ricin bio-threats and is investigating the impact of commonly encountered "hoax" white powders. PNNL plans to facilitate performance and ergonomic testing of the most promising technology by first responders.

PNNL is also working with other agencies to help refine detection system performance requirements, standardized test plans and conditions, create guidelines for use and limitations of biodetection technology, and establish training and proficiency testing procedures.

According to law enforcement statistics, HazMat teams across the country respond to hundreds of white powder calls each year in large cities where quick decision-making is critical.

"Rapid biodetection is extremely important to the first responder community. In white powder response incidents where the health and safety of individuals may be in jeopardy, accurate and reliable results are needed promptly," says Seattle Fire Department, Assistant Chief, A.D. Vickery.

The information listed in the report is primarily provided by the vendor. However, when possible the report has been supplemented with additional information obtained from peer-reviewed publications, reports and websites that evaluate the performance of the technologies. Other findings and results will be published as the information becomes available.

Explore further: Freight train industry to miss safety deadline

More information: www.pnnl.gov/nationalsecurity/technical/chemical_biological/Biodetection_Technologies_for_First_Responders.pdf

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Green buildings save green

Nov 18, 2011

In addition to emitting less carbon dioxide and using less water, sustainably designed federal buildings cost 19 percent less to maintain, according to a report by the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.  The results are i ...

Rescue Robot Tests To Offer Responders High-Tech Help

Jun 12, 2007

National Institute of Standards and Technology engineers are organizing the fourth in a series of Response Robot Evaluation Exercises for urban search and rescue (US&R) responders to be held on June 18-22, ...

Reaching ambitious greenhouse gas concentration goals

Mar 18, 2013

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that even though it is technically possible to reach ambitious goals to limit greenhouse gas concentrations by the end of the 21st century, the combin ...

When the right suit matters: Standards on bomb suits

Oct 07, 2010

When a bomb technician inspects a potential explosive device, the bulky protective suit might be the only defense he or she has. Bomb suit manufacturers run tests on their protective suits to ensure they can ...

Recommended for you

Freight train industry to miss safety deadline

3 hours ago

The U.S. freight railroad industry says only one-fifth of its track will be equipped with mandatory safety technology to prevent most collisions and derailments by the deadline set by Congress.

Gaza cops trade bullets for laser-tech in training

Apr 14, 2014

Security forces in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip are using technology to practice shooting on laser simulators, saving money spent on ammunition in the cash-strapped Palestinian territory.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Microsoft CEO is driving data-culture mindset

(Phys.org) —Microsoft's future strategy: is all about leveraging data, from different sources, coming together using one cohesive Microsoft architecture. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Tuesday, both in ...

Simplicity is key to co-operative robots

A way of making hundreds—or even thousands—of tiny robots cluster to carry out tasks without using any memory or processing power has been developed by engineers at the University of Sheffield, UK.

IBM posts lower 1Q earnings amid hardware slump

IBM's first-quarter earnings fell and revenue came in below Wall Street's expectations amid an ongoing decline in its hardware business, one that was exasperated by weaker demand in China and emerging markets.