Convergence 201427 March 2015 0
The first day started with a workshop on novel explosives and another on a refresher course for helicopter borne radiation detection (DOE’s MARS course). The former had a series of lectures in the morning, from people such as Prof Jimmy Oxley, of Rhode Island University, Mark Roberts, of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Michael Cardash, from the Israeli Bomb Squad talk about novel compounds and what they are seeing on operations. This culminated in an after on the Surrey County Fire Department explosives range with the FBI WMD Coordinators running their NIEF (National Improvised Explosive Familiarization) course. This saw a range of compounds that could readily be bought in department stores combined in certain ways that would cause them to be highly destructive.
The MARS workshop was run by a variety of DOE experts and offered a morning of lectures, providing an insight into what can be achieved with airborne radiation detection and an afternoon touring both the DOE’s AMS helicopter and also the Suffolk County PD’s helicopter borne detection suite. Held at the local airport this was an excellent opportunity for novices and experts to receive quality training in this specialised field.
The conference started with some strategic level presentations from individuals such as the Commissioner of New York’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Dr Jerome Hauer, the Commanding General of the 20th CBRNE Command, BG JB Burton and Deputy Assistant Director Craig Fair, from the FBI’s WMD Directorate. These helped provide the threat overview on the global, regional and national level, and were the prism through which all the other presentations were viewed.
The first coffee break was followed by regional presentations, split into two streams dealing with local and regional issues. The first stream dealt with some of the problems in New York state and its neighbours, with presentations from Nassau and Suffolk county and New Jersey. The other stream was focussed on New York City and managed to bring both NYPD and FDNY together (a feat in itself) along with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) on their management of management of contaminated human remains.
Following lunch there were a wider variety of presentations on offer in the various streams, including Nato, detection, decontamination and improvements in the US Chemical Corps. During the breaks, or even during the sessions, the delegates had a chance to browse the largest exhibition of CBRNE equipment in 2014. We were proud to have Biofire, Battelle, North Shore, Lockheed Martin, Passport Systems, Veteran Corps, Q Linea, Dxterity, Emergent Biosolutions, Flir, Proengin and Kaercher Futuretech as sponsors. Equipment on show varied from medical countermeasures and robots through to communication devices and protective equipment.
Day Two started with a dynamic demonstration from Suffolk County PD, who showcased an attempted penetration of their radiological cordon with a radiological IED. Through a layered detection system the department was able to isolate and then apprehend the suspect. The second day’s lectures started with Mark Kirk and Steve Bennett from DHS OHA, which was the first of the days presentations that incorporated Ebola. Due to the announcement that New York had its first Ebola patient there was a lot of interest in anything on Ebola, and the conference both benefitted and suffered from the interest - with roughly the same amount of people not attending the event to go to an Ebola class as the people that turned up to learn about it! Following OHA came an excellent presentation from Commissioner Eric Yap of the Singapore Civil Defence Force. The SCDF continues to be one of the most innovative forces in the world for CBRN, and a number of their initiatives are world leading.
An international selection of speakers in the afternoon was followed by the winners of the Call for Papers section, which saw a wide variety of topics covered in a short space of time - including JUPITR, function needs at mass casualty decon, and evaluation of Chemical IEDs.
There were a lot of positives in Long Island, the amount of support received by Suffolk County PD and the FBI WMD Coordinator was fantastic, and we are indebted to Chief Cameron and PJ O’Brien for all their help. A negative comment we received was on the lack of amenities close to the hotel, and we have taken that on board and will ensure that is factored in more highly in future events.