The United States has on numerous occasions had to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats. However, the absence of standardized testing methods has affected its ability to respond to hazards that are natural and manmade. For instance, the absence of standardized fire hose couplings has negatively impacted on the ability of firefighters to effectively respond to fires, therefore, increasing the risks faced by individuals and their properties (Steinhausler, 2015). The National Board of Fire Underwriters had initially put in place elaborate measures that emphasized on the need to standardize testing methods within the CBRNE community; additionally, standardized testing procedures play an integral role in helping stakeholders in homeland security respond to disasters that are likely to occur.
Therefore, standardized testing helps to analyze the threat as well as help aid in risk assessment in the vent disasters strike. The Department of Homeland security has emphasized on the importance of federal, state and local governments overseeing the adoption of chemical detection standards. This initiative increases the ability of government agencies to effectively respond to disasters that are CBRNE in nature (Steinhausler, 2015). Standardized testing helps to assess the quality assurance initiatives that monitor the performance of detectors used. Additionally, the adoption of standardized testing ensures that the evaluation of response mechanisms adheres to the laid down procedures and help aide in the validation process. Reference methods should be adopted by individuals tasked with the responsibility of ascertaining the effectiveness of standardized testing procedures.
Commercial chemical detectors should conform to established standards that respond to national security needs. The different levels of government will be in a position to make informed decisions based on the assessment of capabilities of the different equipment’s involved in assessing conformity to CBRNE standards. The failure to integrate the input of stakeholders involved in responding to disasters in the formulation of standardized testing procedures reduces their effectiveness when responding to threats attributable to chemical and biological weapons (Forest, Howard & Sheehan, 2013). The CBRNE community should adopt standardized testing procedures that will help in tactical decision making with the main objective being in the reduction of the number of causalities when disasters that are chemical and biological in nature strike.
Additionally, government agencies tasked with the responsibilities of guaranteeing national security employ standardized testing procedures when conducting a risk assessment. This initiative is characterized by an assessment of the different hazards and security threats. In this regard, standardized testing plays an integral role in ensuring biological and chemical samples collected are screened. Given that the primary mandate of incident commanders is to coordinate disaster response activities they rely on the input of standardized testing programs to determine the best course of action when responding to disasters that are likely to arise (Forest, Howard & Sheehan, 2013). In the absence of a standardized testing method law enforcement agencies are bound to encounter challenges discharging the response activities. Communication is an important aspect of responding to national disasters since it helps in the mobilization of both financial and human resources required to effectively respond to disasters.
Lack of standardization procedures in the CBRNE community adversely affects the adoption of national standards aimed at responding to chemical and biological threats. For instance, when responding to threats that are biological and chemical in nature it is considered a routine practice that public health officials are informed of the threat and provide a professional opinion on how the threat will impact the overall wellbeing of the population affected. Furthermore, samples should be collected and analyzed so as to influence the adoption of an ideal and effective response strategy. This strategy will reduce the vulnerability of local communities in areas where the disaster has occurred.
Moreover, the development of standard operating procedures ensures that response to incidents that are CBRNE in nature is coordinated by integrating the professional input of relevant stakeholders. Testing and evaluation infrastructure ensures test methods are in place and that the test facilities are accredited by the relevant government agency (Forest, Howard & Sheehan, 2013). Therefore, standardized testing increases the information sharing capacity within government departments. Furthermore, it enhances interoperability making it possible for emergency responders to adopt a uniform response strategy (Forest, Howard & Sheehan, 2013). Dependence on military units in responding to disasters that have CBRNE characteristics has reduced significantly. Response activities are now spearheaded by law enforcement officers, hazardous materials response units, emergency medical services, and the bomb squad.