One-on-one in-depth interviews for this study in China were carried out with 20 participants, including expert members of National Medical Response Teams for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) disasters, officials at emergency management authorities, and scholars of academic institutions related to CBRN emergency.
China has experienced 200-600 accidents every year in hazardous chemical industry, frequent emerging epidemics (e.g., COVID-19, SARS, H5N1 and African Swine Flu), over 43 planned nuclear reactors and unpredictable terrorism attacks. China has invested heavily in the development of CBRN medical response capacity including the CBRN Medical Response Teams (CBRN-MRT) designed to be deployed on the site.
CBRN missions in contrast have often involved unknown or unidentified substances, with a greater emphasis on the need to identify the substance through sampling and intelligence collection. Situation awareness of public health responders thus plays a more important role because responsive actions are based on timely recognition of the uncertain status and trends of CBRN harm closely correlated with dynamic weather conditions and geographical environment CBRN events, usually leading to mass casualties, have the potential to rapidly overwhelm – or threaten to exceed – the local capacity available to respond, and therefore public health responders during CBRN disasters should also do better in resource management of detection devices and special reagents needed in CBRN responses which are characterized with more diversity, precision and vulnerability to environmental impact.
Nontechnical competencies are as critical as technical ability for the health workers to respond effectively in CBRN emergencies. Those identified competencies could be useful to develop a workforce for CBRN emergencies, such as outlining competency-based training and updating job descriptions for recruitment. The proposed competency framework can be used to support developers of public health emergency preparedness training initiatives by ensuring public health professionals are able to demonstrate the non-technical knowledge and skills.
Exploring the Nontechnical Competencies for On-scene Public Health Responders in Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies: A Qualitative Study Public Health. Published online: 20 April 2020 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2020.04.015.