The third edition of NCT USA took place from the 19th to the 21st September 2017 in Dulles, Virginia, attracting 19 exhibitors and over 180 delegates from the US, Europe and countries such as Japan, Canada, India and Syria. The event offered a unique networking opportunity, bringing together federal and local first-responders, industry representatives, decision-makers and influencers in the CBRNe community. With its comprehensive program, outstanding knowledge-sharing opportunities and CBRNe capability displays, NCT USA again proved to be an excellent networking forum in CBRNe defense and response in the US.
Live capability demonstration
The three-day event kicked-off with a live CBRNe capability demonstration by the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Hazmat Unit and Police EOD Unit right outside the conference venue. Taking advantage of their surroundings, the demonstration ran a dirty bomb scenario set in a parking space outside a Hotel, which started with a sudden fire in a car, sparking the first response of the Fire Department.
During the initial threat assessment, showcasing a variety of reconnaissance, detection and protection equipment, the Hazmat Unit identified a radiological agent surrounding the damaged area. The victims were immediately decontaminated, while the dedicated personnel informed the federal support agencies of the radiological contamination. During the reconnaissance measures, the Hazmat Unit also identified a suspect backpack, feared to be an IED that might detonate because of the surrounding fire. The information was subsequently delivered to the Bomb Squad, who promptly deployed their unmanned bomb disposal robot, allowing them to remove the suspect container from a safe distance.
This was secured in a vehicle equipped for blast control, while the entire area was decontaminated and the fire extinguished. The live capability demonstration provided a unique opportunity to witness the complexities faced by the first-responders first-hand. The nature of such scenario is that there is no way to predict how it can evolve and subsequently how to formulate an effective response. In this sense, the Fairfax County Hazmat and Bomb Squad Units provided the audience with an outstanding demonstration of interoperability, cooperation and readiness.
NCT Conference and Workshops
The two days of conferences, workshops and industry exhibition kicked off with a live-streamed Opening Plenary and the remarks of the NCT chairman Brig. Gen. (ret.) William King, Former Commander of the 20th CBRNe Command. These were followed by keynote remarks by Douglas Bryce, JPEO-CBD, Abdul Elah Fahed, Former Secretary General of the National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, and Lt. Col. Shaun Fitzpatrick, Executive Officer of the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force. The keynote presentations addressed several key aspects of CBRNe defense, response and preparedness. They highlighted the increasingly complex nature of the threats faced both nationally and globally, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive and multi-agency approach in the response to these threats. Abdul Elah Fahed, on the other hand, addressed the enduring inaction of the international community regarding the chemical weapon stockpiles still possessed and tactically employed by the Assad regime in Syria.
This theme of multi-agency approach remained central throughout the day, with a session dedicated to Local, State and Federal Response to CBRNe Threats. The session welcomed the contribution of high-level speakers such as Col. Main, Chief of the Warfighter Integration Division at DTRA, Lt. Col. Genthner, Commander of the 24th Civil Support Team in New York City, as well as Matthew Sieber, Senior Hazmat Technician from the LAPD
The following day, the conference sessions offered an insight in the current CBRNe threats in North America, as well as the current trends and capabilities in Forensics, Robotic solutions and C-IED. Given the increase in terrorist attacks targeting public gatherings and high-visibility events, NCT USA 2017 featured presentations of first-responders with direct experience on the field. For example, Sgt. Connolly, Supervisor of the Boston EOD Unit, who oversaw the Bomb Squad personnel deployed during the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing. The session also welcomed the valuable contribution of Lt. Col. McGuyer, Deputy Chief of the Technology Strategy Division at JIDO, who assessed the current IED threat worldwide and gave an overview of JIDO’s support role in Iraq and Afghanistan.
NCT USA 2017 also featured a highly successful workshop stream, which allowed the audience to discuss a variety of relevant CBRNe topics and issues with representatives of several federal US agencies, including JPEO-CBD and DTRA. The second day of the event welcomed a workshop on Weapons of Mass Destruction Integrated Early Warning by DTRA, with contributions from both technical and operational personnel that discussed the ongoing efforts in an informal and stimulating setting. NCT USA 2017 also featured a workshop on the use of CBRN and IED in Syria, with a presentation of Dr. Houssam Alnahhas, Coordinator for CBRN-TF for the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organization. Urging the international community to take action, he highlighted the severe shortages of medical equipment, both for response to CBRNe and training of personnel. These shortages are created by the repeated boycotts of the Assad regime, which is not effectively deterred by the Global community and still uses chemical weapons.
NCT USA 2017 hosted the traditional BBQ Reception and outdoor Static Display of CBRNe capabilities by the Fairfax County Hazmat Unit and Bomb Squad, as well as the Washington DC Fire and EMS Department on the second day of the event. The Static Display of CBRNe Capabilities by End-users and Industry representatives allowed the participants to familiarize themselves with the different solutions available on the market and those employed by the different first-response units. This offered the delegates the opportunity to interact with the first-responders and discuss current and future challenges in an informal and relaxed setting.
See you next year!
Addressing several aspects of CBRNe emergency preparedness and response in North America, the third edition of NCT USA once again successfully brought together all the relevant stakeholders in the field. It provided the perfect networking and knowledge-sharing platform, as well as the chance to discuss the latest CBRNe solutions and capabilities with first-responders, industry representatives and federal officials.
The next edition of NCT USA will return to the Hilton Washington Dulles Hotel in 2018 from 3-5 of April! More information about the event will be published soon.