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Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD)

The current paper deals with the evaluation of a potential sarin gas attack and corresponding responsive measures that should be taken. The seriousness of this threat is not adequately understood among US professionals. There are various perspectives on examining this topic. Various scholars demonstrate that sarin is a highly dangerous gas that is often used for organizing terrorist attacks. The need for organizing effective training and educational programs is specified. It should include both balancing the efforts of all emergency responders and increasing the public awareness about such threats. There are also some problems with designing an optimal response system because it necessarily involves a considerable degree of uncertainty. The US emergency response systems should take corresponding lessons from the experience of other countries and correctly apply them to the US conditions.

Introduction

The threats associated with sarin gas became evident after the sarin gas attack in Tokyo in 1995. Sarin creates additional opportunities for potential terrorists as they may use it for inflicting harm on a large fraction of the population. Moreover, the prevention and control of such threats require substantial resources and high coordination between all responsible parties and emergency managers. The current paper examines various aspects related to this type of threat. It is important to investigate all potential consequences that may occur if a sarin gas attack is initiated including secondary ones. However, these threats can be effectively prevented, and the negative effects can be minimized if the actions of all parties are coordinated.

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Background

Sarin is a potentially dangerous gas that is classified as a nerve agent. As it is highly toxic, the potential negative consequences for people are substantial. Although it was developed in the 1930s, it was used for implementing large-scale terrorist attacks only during the 1990s. Japan was considered as one of the most protected countries of that period. However, terrorists were able to use sarin to harm a large number of innocent civilian people. The largest terrorist attack took place in Tokyo in 1995 (Beaton et al, 2005). A comparatively small group of terrorists was able to realize its criminal plans due to effective coordination and inadequate preparedness of Japan emergency system.

Sarin influences people when it is released into the air. It affects people through eye or skin contact. Its first negative consequences occur almost immediately. Its influence is highly negative and very strong. The level of mortality among people affected by sarin is very high. Sarin can also influence people when it is mixed with water. In this case, the effects are not observed immediately, but they are still highly negative. People’s clothes also become dangerous as they may contain sarin and increase its negative influence. Therefore, clothes should be removed in the shortest possible period of time.

Problem Impacting the US

At the present moment, terrorism threat level in the world is extremely high. The US is traditionally viewed as one of the main targets of terrorist attacks (Beaton et al, 2005). Although the general state of national security seems to be satisfactory, threats associated with the potential use of sarin are generally neglected. The experience of Japan of the 1990s shows that even the most protected countries can be affected by such an attack if timely preventive measures are not taken.
This paper is mainly focused on developing a complex and effective system of preparedness, training, and education in relation to a sarin gas threat. It should address the existing problem from various perspectives. In this way, the optimal solution can be found. Although threats associated with the potential use of sarin cannot be completely eliminated, they can be reduced to an acceptable level.

Literature Review

The issues associated with the use of sarin are widely examined by modern scholars. Kawana et al. (2005) examine the psychological effects of the sarin gas attack in Tokyo in 1995. The authors demonstrate that posttraumatic stress symptoms are observed among the majority of victims of this attack (Kawana et al, 2005, p. 89). It means that the posttraumatic influence can last for a long period of time. Although its intensity tends to decline over time, it is still substantial even after several years.
Beaton et al. (2005) examine the key aspects related to the sarin gas attack in 1995. The authors suggest that this terrorist event should be analyzed in detail because it can help to prevent similar attacks in the future. In particular, it is especially important to reach the optimal coordination of efforts among emergency managers (Beaton et al, 2005, p. 110). It seems that the authors provide some relevant insights into the context of preventing similar attacks in the US.

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Karam (2013) examines the major characteristics applicable to chemical and biological weapons. The author shows that these types of weapons differ substantially from other ones and present even some additional threats to people. He explains why it is crucial to develop a corresponding system for preventing such threats (Karam, 2013, p. 1057). The author also describes the main aspects that should be addressed if such threats actually emerge.

Kenichiro (2005) evaluates the actions and productivity of hospitals during the sarin gas attack in Tokyo. The analysis shows that the hospitals’ preparedness was unsatisfactory. Although they performed a large amount of work, the planning was of poor quality. The majority of specialists and institutions were unprepared for such emergency situations (Kenichiro, 2005, p. 78). The author provides several insights into optimization of the preparedness process in hospitals in similar cases.

Dolgin (2013) examines the sarin gas attack in Syria. As its consequences were substantial, and the government system was unable to minimize negative effects, the author stresses the need for developing modern anti-sarin drugs. Although the threats associated with sarin are comparatively widely well-known, there is lack of effective anti-sarin drugs (Dolgin, 2013, p. 1197). The author primarily focuses on the needs of the citizens of developing countries, but the same concerns can be applied to the current situation in the United States.

Parry (2014) further develops the investigation of the use of sarin gas in Syria. The author evaluates its negative consequences and states that sarin constitutes one of the main threats to the modern world. Its influence is especially strong because it is widely used against civilians. Therefore, the entire global community should implement measures that will prevent the use of sarin in international or local military conflicts. Although the need for such actions is evident, the specific mechanism for reaching these objectives is absent.

Training and Education

Training and education constitute one of the central elements of designing an effective system against potential attacks of this type. Large-scale training should be organized among all emergency response managers and corresponding institutions. Emergency responders should be aware of their specific functions in case of emergency. As a result, the highest possible level of coordination and effectiveness should be achieved. The created system should be highly flexible and open to some unpredictable challenges.

Training refers not only to acting when the emergency situation occurs, but to developing a large set of preventive measures. In particular, the FBI officers should closely examine all people who can be potential terrorists, especially those previously involved in terrorist or other criminal activities. Hospitals should be aware of the main services that should be provided if such a terrorist attack occurs. Health departments should effectively coordinate the efforts and actions of other healthcare stakeholders.

It is also necessary to organize a corresponding work with the civilian population. One of the main objectives is to avoid panic in such situations. People should be aware of their key actions. They should also understand the general pattern of the influence of sarin on their health. In this way, they may assist healthcare and emergency response specialists in neutralizing the negative consequences of the attack. Training and education should also be adjusted on a regular basis in accordance with the dynamics of the external threats and challenges.

Preparedness

Preparedness includes the proper coordination among all emergency response managers and institutions as well as development of effective and timely actions in regard to immediate and further management (Karam, 2013). The optimal coordination between all parties can be achieved through comparing the expected efficiency of various combinations of resources and responsibilities. Those of them that generate the highest expected positive effect should become more widespread while those combinations that do not allow reaching the expected results should be abolished.

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Immediate management primarily deals with minimizing the general negative consequences as well as neutralizing the source of a problem or a terrorist attack. The FBI can assist in fulfilling these functions. Further management may allow minimizing long-term probabilities of such terrorist attacks in the future. On the one hand, health symptoms of victims should be kept under control. On the other hand, the structure of potential threats should be constantly evaluated.

Problems with Response

Even if the actions of all emergency responders are well-coordinated, and the functions of other parties are correspondingly distributed, development of an optimal response system is associated with a number of additional difficulties and challenges. First, emergency responders always act under the conditions of uncertainty (Beaton et al, 2005). Although the level of uncertainty may be different, it is always present, and emergency responders are not aware of all dangerous factors existing at a given moment.

Second, the entire planning should be organized on an ex ante basis. It means that emergency responders should be able to effectively predict the most plausible actions and strategies of potential terrorists. As the general social and economic environment is subject to changes, and new technologies regularly emerge, it may be hard to correctly determine the whole scope of potential terrorists’ actions. Moreover, designing response strategies presupposes organizing work at different levels. Some problems at the micro-level can be underestimated if the assessment process is primarily organized at the macro-level. However, terrorists who evaluate the entire situation from the micro-perspective can effectively determine those problems with the existing emergency response system that can be effectively utilized.

Consequences of the Bioterrorism Attack

All bioterrorism attacks have potentially dangerous consequences. The emergency response system tries to address these challenges, but all systems are non-perfect; this fact does not allow completely eliminating terrorist threats in any country. In relation to sarin, its negative consequences are even much more dangerous than those of other bioterrorist substances. Sarin influences people both through air and water. It has some immediate consequences, and some negative effects can occur only after a long period of time. Sarin does not only impact people’s physical abilities but threatens their psychological state.

The studies of Kenichiro (2005) demonstrate that even several years after the attack victims still experience substantial psychological problems. In particular, their level of socialization is much higher in comparison with other social members. Many victims tend to overestimate the probability of such threats in the future. As a result, they cannot realize their plans and try to avoid places associated with the negative experience. Although some of these reactions are quite natural, if they continue to exist for a long period of time, they create additional problems for people. Thus, it is also dangerous for society in general as its behavior patterns are negatively affected.

Therefore, it is necessary to implement relevant emergency measures in this context. They may refer to immediate management when the short-term negative consequences are minimized. If the physical harm is addressed at the early stage, the probability of long-term psychological problems also declines.

Future Implications of Such an Attack

A sarin gas attack has a number of further implications that affect both individuals and society in general; moreover, such attacks motivate other terrorists to commit similar acts. Individuals experience the negative impact of sarin both in relation to their physical and psychological state. In relation to people’s physical conditions, the positive dynamics is observed in all countries (Kenichiro, 2005). In this context, the existing methods used by hospitals and other healthcare institutions are comparatively effective. In relation to people’s psychological state, the situation is more complex. Although a general positive tendency is also typically observed, it is non-linear (Kenichiro, 2005). It means that individuals may experience some stages of improvement while their psychological state may worsen. A number of additional subjective and hidden factors are typically present in this case. It is necessary to develop an effective system of rehabilitation to improve people’s general psychological perceptions.

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Society is interested in minimizing the negative consequences of such attacks during the shortest possible period of time for the following reasons. First, it can economize scarce resources because any long-term problems require additional resources for their solution. Second, more productive and healthy members of society allow increasing the national living standards as well as improving the general psychological climate. A sarin gas attack also affects the potential motivation for similar attacks in the future. If such an attack is successfully realized, other terrorists receive additional motivation for such actions in the future. They see the example of how their terrorist objectives can be effectively reached. If a given attack is prevented, terrorists realize that their objective has not been reached. Thus, temptation to commit similar attacks in the future can also decline. It shows that preventing bioterrorist attacks today means not only improvement of the current social situation but also declining the probability of such attacks in the future.

Suggestions for Improving the Current Preparedness Issues Facing the US

The assessment of the current situation in this sphere in the US is twofold. On the one hand, all necessary resources for developing effective preventive and response strategies are present. Moreover, the US specialists can investigate the past cases of sarin gas attacks in Japan, Syria, and other countries. On the other hand, the level of coordination among various emergency responders is not optimal. Another problem is the low level of public awareness of the threats associated with sarin.

Therefore, the potential improvement can be reached in the following ways. First, emergency responders should be concerned not only with their direct obligations but also with coordination of the efforts of all other parties involved. Only in this way, the corresponding synergic effect may take place. Thus, the strategies of the FBI, hospitals, health departments, and other emergency responders should not be considered as unrelated to one another (Parry, 2014). It is reasonable to evaluate various alternatives for organizing their operations. The long-term consequences should occupy the central part of this analysis.

Second, it is necessary to increase the public awareness of threats associated with sarin. As people are unaware of this threat, it may be expected that their actions will not be correct if such a threat actually occurs. Complex educational and training programs are necessary. People should understand the general pattern of sarin’s influence on their health. They should also understand what actions should be taken to minimize negative consequences and create the favorable environment for professional interventions. If these two aspects are effectively addressed, it may be expected that the level of preparedness in the country may reach the appropriate level.

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Conclusion

The threats associated with sarin are much more significant than it is generally realized. Its chemical characteristics are such that it can harm a large number of people during a very short period of time. Therefore, these threats should be addressed at all stages. The past cases of the sarin gas attacks in Japan and Syria demonstrate that the civilian population is vulnerable to its negative influence. Moreover, if the effective emergency response system is absent, the effects can be catastrophic. A number of scholars examine various aspects of sarin and potential terrorist attacks based on its use. They demonstrate that sarin is one of the most dangerous gases used for terrorist purposes. Their analysis also helps to outline the main problems present in the past cases of the use of sarin.

Effective educational and training programs are necessary. They will contribute to both higher coordination between all emergency responders and public awareness of these risks. Moreover, it is reasonable to adjust these programs and plans in accordance with changes in the external environment. It is hard to design an optimal response system because any decisions in this sphere are associated with a considerable degree of risks and uncertainty. Despite this fact, a better coordination of emergency responders and higher public awareness can result in a considerable improvement of the existing situation. It is also reasonable to correctly apply the experience of other countries to the US conditions.

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