San Diego 2016 Convergence15 February 2017 0
After months of planning and organising, it seemed the 9th CBRNe World Convergence in sunny San Diego was suddenly upon us in no time, and the team were flying out to greet almost 400 delegates, around 30 speakers and over 60 industry partners from around the world, eager to get started. This year, the event was held at the Town and Country Hotel and Convention Centre and ran over two days – 1-2 November.
Registration opened the day before the event started, as the stands were going up, and a social networking evening was arranged out in San Diego town - to give everyone a chance to meet up and make contacts - on spooky Halloween. Many got into the spirit of the night by dressing up in impressive Halloween costumes and the prize for best outfit went to Chris Carpita from 908 devices who turned up dressed as a gorilla! He was presented with a bottle of champagne from the team for his efforts.
After recovering from Halloween, almost 400 delegates descended onto the Town and Country Hotel to join the first Plenary sessions of CBRNe Convergence 2016. Armed with their delegate bags from sponsor Battelle, including useful sunglasses from sponsor Flir, for the San Diego weather, the global contingent settled down to hear the introduction from our own Gwyn Winfield, opening the event.
The first day was focussed on lessons learned from various organisations within the USA who were happy to share their experiences with the audience and to talk about their capabilities and plans for the future. The first plenary session was presented by Stephen Cichocki, Program Manager, CBRN, NORAD/NORTHCOM. He focussed on ways to improve the USA’s national CBRN response capabilities, looking at the response architecture and how it is employed.
He was followed by Scott White from CBRN Defence, who presented on staying ahead of the CBRN threat and examined ways to engage in long term planning and analysis. The third plenary session was presented by Brigadier General William E King, 20th CBRNe Command, who provided an overview of the command’s most recent operations and exercises across the globe.
Finally, the first morning plenary sessions were concluded by Professor Gary Ackerman, Director of the Unconventional Weapons and Technology Division (START), University of Maryland, who examined the emerging technologies which are currently presenting perils and opportunities for CBRN defence. He focused on how changes in adversary motives are now requiring a re-evaluation on how we respond.
In fact, 89% of attendees from this year’s Convergence, who commented in a survey, confirmed that they thought the quality of our speaker programme was either good or outstanding.
The work streams which then followed on from our morning speakers, focused on the experiences of local USA teams, from both Los Angeles and California, sharing how cross-agency working can help in the fight against CBRN threats. We heard first from the teams who work together across the city of Los Angeles, to protect the public against CBRN incidents, with presentations by the FBI, LAPD, the LA County Sheriff’s office and the LA Port Police.
Ken Hawkes, LA Port Police, said: “I’m the purchasing representative from my department for hazmat material and so I come here so that I can meet the vendors and find out what’s the latest and greatest hazmat equipment that’s out there today. So coming to Convergence is a great thing and I encourage anyone that’s involved in hazmat, or law enforcement or fire to attend these conferences.”
Meanwhile, the parallel work stream looked at California’s CBRN defence, with presentations from FBI San Diego, Air National Guard, and the DEA Southwest Laboratory. This local discussion was followed by networking over a splendid lunch, which was kindly sponsored by Emergent Biosolutions. Will Hargett, Executive Vice President from this year’s platinum sponsor, Bruker Detection Corporation, then presented on making the world safer by the use of key threat detection technologies and talked about how best to solve the challenges being faced by first responders, through technology.
Stephen Mooney, Bruker Detection, said: “We have had a great turn out and we have networked with a lot of people that we have met before, and met some new clients.”
The parallel stream focused on decontamination, with a presentation from the EPA on their responsibilities during a bio event, followed by Phil Tackett, Product Manager from Flir, who presented on new classes of portable technology to enable better prevention of terrorism. The final sessions of the afternoon focussed on forensics and on EOD. Within the forensics work stream, Laura Cochrane from Emergent BioSolutions, looked at the history of chemical threat nerve agents, and talked about counter measure preparedness.
Her talk was then followed by Adrien Sivignon, Crime Scene Investigator from the French Judicial Police who presented on CBRN forensics in the aftermath of the recent Bataclan attacks in Paris.
Adrien talked about the lessons learned from the tragedy, and how the French responding agencies have realised that with the increased threat, they need to work in a more co-ordinated way and understand each other’s roles. Adrien said the attacks had resulted in far better multi-agency co-operation and increased training and exercising jointly together.
The day ended with a food, drinks and time to network, unwind and catch up with colleagues at the official CBRNe Convergence 2016 drinks reception, kindly sponsored by Passport Systems.
In fact, the whole event wouldn’t be possible, as always, without the support of all of our sponsors, who this year were: Platinum Sponsor Bruker Detection, Gold Sponsor Emergent BioSolutions, Silver Sponsors Battelle, BioFire Defense, Federal Resources, FLIR Detection, Passport Systems, Veteran Corps of America, and Bronze Sponsors ARGON, AVON Protection, BBI Detection.
International capability was the focus for the second day of Convergence, exploring ideas and lessons learned from across the globe.
But the stand out speaker for me - and it was clear the rest of the audience was visibly moved – was the powerful presentation examining a family who were victims of a blister agent used during the Syrian conflict, given by Dr Sermet Sezigen, GATA Medical University. Dr Sezigan brought home to the audience the very real impact of chemical weapon use in Syria through his case study of a family who suffered horrific injuries and loss after their home was hit by a bomb carrying a blister agent. His graphic and detailed presentation rendered even the most experienced in the audience speechless.
Looking at the CBRN threat from a slightly different, but equally important angle, was Colin Barthel from the FDA who presented on food defence, looking at the ways the FDA is engaging with key stakeholders to discuss the issues around food defence and protecting this vital industry.
He talked about some of the new regulations around food which are coming in soon and will impact on any company around the world which is currently exporting food into the USA.
While our speakers entertained, educated and inspired the delegates, our trade partners also sought to entice them in with more than 60 booths displaying the latest CBRNe equipment and technology.
We even had several live product launches taking part at the show including:
• ISOVAC Products new isolation system – Operational Rescue Containment Apparatus (ORCA)
• Passport Systems new Smartshield Networked Radiation Detection System which is aimed at protecting against potential nuclear terrorists
• FLIR Systems new Mobile Griffin G465 Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometer for chemical threat detection
And just to show it’s not about me bigging up the event, here are some views from the exhibitors themselves:
Steven Roberson, Qinetiq North America, said: “We are at the CBRNE convergence because this is an awesome show. The foot traffic and the quality of folks that have stopped by the booth has been superb for us.”
Fiona Marshall, BBI Detection, said: “The show has been going really well for us so far, we had a really busy day on the stand yesterday and we’ve really enjoyed being here and have met a lot of interesting people. The show has been very well organised.”
In fact, 90% of our attendees voted that the trade exhibition was either good or outstanding in a survey following the Convergence event.
The 400 strong delegation were then presented with talks around high visibility events, drones in CBRN, terrorist threat and Hazmat, in the afternoon of the second day, before attending the poster session where key presenters gave talks on a variety of research areas.
Using strategic assets to mitigate the impact of biothreats and emerging infectious diseases was the topic presented by Chrissie Flowers from BioFire Defense. She discussed the difference between biosurveillance and emergency diagnostics and explained lessons learnt from navigating the US approval process for Zika and Ebola.
Following on from Chrissie’s presentation was Lt Col. Christophe Libeau, from the Paris Fire Brigade, who discussed the lessons the fire service had learned from the attacks in 2015, and talked about joint approaches to preparedness with partner agencies, as well as the problems and issues in updating a CBRN mass casualty rescue plan.
Christoph Libeau, Paris Fire Brigade, said: “The event for us as CBRN first responders is a very important event worldwide. It is one of the most important events we have – the Convergence and the symposium - when we can meet industrial partners and other firefighters, police, military, all of us who are involved in CBRN issues.”
Michael Rogers, from Los Angeles County Public Health, gave an overview to the audience of the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Leak, and the joint public health response that was required to handle it, with health, fire and gas departments all working together.
The poster presentation session closed the 9th Annual CBRNE Convergence, and included talks on rapid diagnostics, revolutionary enzymatic sensors, SROV to detect the presence of CBRNe hazards and the potential threats generated by explosive cylinders.
The 9th Annual CBRNe Convergence featured a packed two days with highly engaging speakers sharing their expertise, knowledge and experiences, in a wide variety of CBRN-related areas. But don’t just take our word for it! We received some excellent feedback:
William Guglielmo, ITL Solutions
“CBRNE Convergence here in San Diego has been fantastic. We have got a lot of new contacts and a lot of folks both here in the United States and from overseas, from all walks of the CRBNE world, from local fire departments all the way up to federal and state representatives. We’ve really enjoyed being here and look forward to next year.”
Russell Greene, Battelle
“It’s a great conference. We like meeting both our government clients here and other commercial vendors like ourselves that do testing and sell products in the CBRNE defence area. It’s a great networking opportunity and we get to see all the new technologies. It’s a really beneficial conference.”
In fact, 80% of our attendees this year, said they were planning to attend again next year as long as their budgets permitted! So if you’d like to join us in London or Indianapolis, go to www.cbrneworld.com for details of how to register.