Technological and Biological Hazard Preparedness
Emergencies due to technological and biological hazards / CBRN are part of the humanitarian scope for a long time. These hazards have continuously left an impact on lives and livelihoods. They have emerged over the years, triggered by technological advances as well as the development of critical infrastructure made to increase productivity and access to resources.
With the nuclear age and more use of chemicals in industry and agriculture, numerous emergencies involving ionizing radiation and hazardous chemicals have occurred since the mid of the last century. In the previous 50 years, more 8,444 technological hazards have happened due to industrial, transportation, or miscellaneous accidents globally. The frequency of climate-related disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and others also increases the risks in industrial areas and human settlements in the surroundings (the NATECH events).
With a multi-hazard approach, The IFRC has designed a technological and biological global preparedness program to guide National Societies on how to enhance their readiness to respond to these disasters.
Industrialization is moving forward hastily due to technological advances. At the same time, the population is growing in urban and rural areas close to factory fields, which becomes a risk of possible technological hazards that affects their lives.
- Increase knowledge and enhance readiness and resilience.
- Provide guidance and support alignment of operational procedures.
- Raise awareness in communities of potential humanitarian consequences from technological and biological hazards.
- Provide Technological & Biological hazard preparedness training in person or virtual on equipment use, technical safety procedures, drill exercises.
- Support the proper use of personal protective equipment, deco units/shelters, and detection equipment.
- Peer to peer support.
- Enhance humanitarian response following extreme events.
- Pursue greater international cooperation for technological and biological emergency planning, preparedness, and response.
- Advocate for stronger humanitarian considerations within safety standards and frameworks in international networks.
Technological and biological hazards are addressed through a multi-hazard approach which refers to:
- Different hazardous events threatening the same exposed elements (with or without temporal coincidence);
- Hazardous events occurring at the same time or shortly following each other (cascade effects) like NATECH events; and,
- The totality of relevant hazards in a defined geographical area and their interrelations.
The approach is related to multiple risks such as technological, economic, ecological, social, etc. and it determines the whole risk from several hazards, taking into account possible hazards and vulnerability interactions entailing both a multi-hazard and multi-vulnerability perspective.
A chemical incident is the unexpected release of a substance that is (potentially) hazardous either to humans, other animals, or the environment. Chemical releases arise from technological incidents, the impact of natural hazards, and from conflict and terrorism.
A biologic threat can be an infectious disease with the potential to spread and cause an outbreak. Infectious diseases are illnesses caused by germs (such as bacteria and viruses). .Biologic threats may spread naturally, as in a worldwide flu outbreak or be released intentionally.
Any situation which gives rise to an abnormal or unexpected radiation hazard. An emergency can arise because of: a) a loss of shielding, resulting in high traditional levels; b) a loss of containment, resulting in a release of activity; c) an uncontrolled criticality.
An emergency that could be declared if there is an accident or an intentional release (or threat of intentional release) of potentially harmful radioactive materials. In either situation, exposure to radiation can cause health risks.
An environmental emergency typically occurs in the wake of a disaster or conflict. The release of hazardous substances could threaten lives and livelihoods, damaging the ecosystem, massively.
Industrial facilities and critical infrastructure are vulnerable to the impact of natural and climate-related hazards which can trigger so-called Natech (Natural Hazard Triggering Technological Disasters) accidents and the release of toxic substances, fires, and explosions, potentially resulting in health effects, environmental pollution, and economic losses.
The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement has addressed the humanitarian impact of technological hazards already during the last century. Based on the International conference resolutions in 1986 and 1995, and a decision in 2012 by National Societies and IFRC at a Partnership meeting in Tokyo, Japan, to strengthen our efforts and expertise regarding technological hazards, a global preparedness program started in 2013 by the IFRC with the support of several National Societies.
This global Technological & biological hazard / CBRN preparedness program is aiming to capture existing functional capacities within National societies and build a global knowledge network to enhance and create capacities to better prepare for and respond to such kinds of events.
The Public Awareness and Public Education Messages developed by the IFRC provide consistency in action through standardized messaging in technological hazard preparedness.