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


  • Gerhard Chroust J. Kepler Univ. Linz
  • Karin Rainer Research Institute of the Red Cross
  • Nadine Sturm Research Institute of the Red Cross
  • Markus Roth
  • Peter Ziehesberger


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


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.

Author Biography

Gerhard Chroust, J. Kepler Univ. Linz

Born 1941 in Vienna, he studied at the Technical University of Vienna (Electrical Engineering - Communications) and the University of Pennsylvania, USA (Computer Science). He received a PhD from the Technical University of Vienna. 1966 to 1991 he worked as scientist at the IBM Laboratory Vienna (Formal Definition of Programming Languages, compiler building, Software Process Models and IBM’s software engineering environment ADPS). 1992 - 2007 he was tenured professor for "Systems Engineering and Automation" at the J. Kepler University Linz and Head of the Institute. Since 2007 he is Professor Emeritus with main interest in Cultural Differences and Human Aspects of Software Development, Systems Engineering, Software Process Models. and Systems Theory. He is the Secretary General of the International Federation for Systems Research (IFSR) , Honorary Member of the Österr. Gesellschaft für Informatik (ÖGI) Vicepresident of the Austrian Society for Cybernetic Studies (OSGK) and Board Member of the Austrian Computer Society (OCG). He has authored 7 monographs, edited approx. 25 proceedings, and authored/co-authored approx. 150 refereed articles.



How to Cite

Chroust, G., Rainer, K., Sturm, N., Roth, M., & Ziehesberger, P. (2010). Improving Resilience of Critical Human Systems in CBRN-Emergencies: Challenges for First Responders. Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2010, Waterloo, Canada, 54(1). Retrieved from



Systems Applications in Business and Industry