30.10.2017 change 06.11.2017

Innovative "CBRN Security Manager" course at the University of Lodz

How to properly react in the case of a terrorist attack involving the use of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear agents? How to detect and secure risk factors? These skills will be taught to the participants of the first postgraduate course in Europe, which will be launched in November at the University of Lodz.

Interdisciplinary "CBRN Security Manager" course - concerning chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear risks and risks associated with explosives - is a joint initiative of the University of Lodz and the police. The course is addressed to the management staff of institutions and services responsible for ensuring internal security. In the first edition, students of the course will be officers of the Polish Police, Border Guard, State Fire Service, Government Protection Bureau, as well as other persons, whose jobs are related to internal security from Poland and other EU countries.

"The +CBRN Security Manager+ course is the first such course in Poland and in Europe, aimed at educating qualified personnel managing entire operations related to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats and related to pyrotechnic identification" - told PAP Dr. Michał Bijak, from the Faculty of Biology and Environmental Protection of the University of Lodz.

As he stressed, the current situation in Europe points to the real threat of terrorist attacks involving the use of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear agents. Such methods of attack can not only cause huge losses in the population, but will also act psychologically and induce terror.

"It is therefore important that the services responding to such events are able to react appropriately and block the spread of the agent and mitigate its effects. Proper threat identification will allow for proper neutralization and reduce the risk of its spread beyond the contaminated zone" - he added.

Completion of the course will allow participants to gain knowledge and skills in the field of potential hazards and procedures applied by those responsible for coordinating CBRN activities.

"This will include crisis management of subordinate services, detection of agents, designation of safety zones, identification and subsequent neutralization and counteracting the spread of the agent. This could significantly reduce the losses both in the civilian population and in those who take part in the rescue operation" - added Dr. Bijak.

The course will consist of lectures given by academic lecturers and practical exercises: laboratory and training. Planned thematic blocks concern toxic warfare agents, toxic industrial agents, detection of toxic chemicals or ionising radiation, and decontamination of people and equipment. There will also be topics related to bomb disposal, anti-terrorist procedures, service management as well as securing and collection of forensic evidence at the scene.

The biological part of the course will be conducted by the Faculty of Biology and Environmental Protection of the University of Lodz; thematic blocks include the problems of toxicology, microbiology and genetics. During laboratory exercises in biological agents detection, representatives of service will learn how to quickly and easily detect the presence of biological agents used in a terrorist attack using available materials, reagents, or commercial kits.

"During training exercises, students will have an opportunity to use theoretical knowledge in practice by sampling, conducting field diagnostics of biological, chemical or radiological agents, allowing them to prepare for actions that will take place during real-life events" - added Bijak.

Lodz biologists support the internal security services by developing new methods for detecting biological agents, as well as adapting existing technologies for use in field operations. "An example could be the use of flow cytometry in portable detectors that will detect the presence of bacteria in the test material" - the scientist added.

Researchers from the University of Lodz have also developed simple sets of chemical reagents for detecting proteins in dangerous shipments. With these kits, it is possible to detect the presence of protein in the test material in 5 minutes. "Proteins are the main building blocks of every living cell, and therefore also bacteria, so confirmation of its presence in a sample of, for example, white powder, may be an important part of the activity of response to services. If the presence of protein is not detected in the sample, this means that the shipment contains, for example, plain talc" - explained Dr. Bijak.

Another example of researchers\' support for services may be the use of molecular biology techniques to detect pathogens that have genes responsible for drug resistance in their genetic material. They are a huge problem because at the time of infection virtually no antibiotics will be able to help the infected people.

"Thanks to the special primers we developed to duplicate this genetic material, we will be able to detect the presence of these pathogens in the test material, which will allow to apply the appropriate medical procedures during the attack" - the scientist pointed out.

The course is financed from the EU budget within the framework of the international project "Support for European Union action in the field of CBRN security managers education" from the Internal Security Fund - POLICE. The course will be taught in cooperation with the General Police Headquarters, the Police Academy in Szczytno, the Military Institute of Chemistry and Radiometry, the Military Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology and the International Security and Emergency Management Institute in Slovakia.

Another element of cooperation between the University of Lodz and the Polish police is the project CBRN-POL, coordinated by the university, the goal of which is to develop a CBRN training program for police patrol officers. (PAP)

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