Success Story

Early warning crisis system to detect chemical release in interior structures

Since the 1995 sarin gas attack in a Tokyo subway, authorities have recognized that large interior structures are vulnerable to chemical (and biological) attacks. Particularly at risk are venues like subways, airports and government office buildings, where people are concentrated in small areas and quick evacuation is difficult; or enclosed buildings such as convention centers or arenas, where the threat may be high when the facility is occupied. In all cases, early detection and rapid response are essential to ensure crowd safety and the saving of lives.

Proper pre-planning, along with advanced technology, can provide facility management with an early warning to trigger emergency management tools and protocols and potentially save hundereds of lives.

Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have created an automated hardware/software system to improve the detection of and reaction to complex terrorist attacks involving chemical agents. The system, called PROTECT (Program for Response Options and Technology Enhancements for Chemical/Biological Terrorism), integrates chemical detectors, closed-circuit TV, dispersion modeling and optimal response protocols. Alarm and response management capabilities assist infrastructure operators and first responders by pinpointing agent release areas and projected dispersion zones and recommendeing appropriate, predetermined response scenarios.