Improving Resilience of Critical Human Systems in CBRN-Emergencies: Challenges for First Responders

Gerhard Chroust, Karin Rainer, Nadine Sturm, Markus Roth, Peter Ziehesberger


Today’s catastrophes (many of them man-made or at least triggered by human activities) usually endanger a growing number of humans and larger areas in more diversified ways, creating a need for dependability and resilience of our environment. Experience tells us that no matter what precautions and quality approaches we take we will always encounter systems which initially were dependable and ’suddenly’ turn untrustworthy due to some unexpected, unknown cause. A system which in itself is unable to reestablish its dependability, i.e. it is not rewsilient (any more) needs an outside intervention: For humans a physician acts as an intervention system for re-establishing dependability. A complex system can be made resilient by the inclusion of an Intervention System which intervenes in the case of loss of dependability.

In this paper we investigate the role of First Responders (i.e. fire brigade, ambulance services, police forces) as an Intervention System in the case of CBRN-incidents, aimed at providing resilience. Taking a process view of such interventions we analyze key processes especially with respect to supporting them by Information and Communication Technology. We identify properties of CBRN incidents and their implications for the activities of First Responders both in training and real assignments.


First Responders, CBRN-emergencies, resilience, dependability, intervention system

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