Improving global prehospital and emergency medicine, public health, and disaster health care and preparedness


The CBRN SIG strives to be the organizational vehicle welcoming and representing practitioners from all countries with an intent and desire to strengthen and improve the practice and knowledge of CBRN casualty management.

Photo Credit: US Army

About CBRN

Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) devices and agents are becoming increasingly used throughout the world in warfare, terrorism, assassinations, and to exert global strategic and regional political influence. The gradual development and dissemination of a range of proliferant and dual-use technologies has resulted in worsening risks to the organizations and nations historically concerned with potential CBRN events but has increased the risk of CBRN events occurring either accidentally or deliberately across far wider areas of the world.

Coupled with ever increasing development and urbanization globally, and widespread dissemination of enabling technologies and knowledge, CBRN events are likely to occur more frequently in the future and impact more vulnerable populations and groups than would previously have occurred. CBRN exposure cannot now be seen as confined to the battlefield – CBRN exposures can now occur in the context of war, in humanitarian or relief contexts, and in unexpected locations and times during peace. CBRN agents possess special characteristics, contamination potential, and physiological and toxicological effects that significantly complicates medical planning, preparation, response, and recovery.

Additionally, CBRN agents are capable of causing severe short and long-term mass casualty events, with far-ranging implications both within the acute medical domain but also causing significant impacts in wider population health, chronic disease, demographic, economic, health systems and political domains. Given its complexities, CBRN casualty management is fundamental to but generally considered outside the scope of routine emergency and acute medical practice. It represents an ongoing and ever-evolving medical, health systems and public health challenge for clinicians to confront in an era where CBRN medicine is increasingly relevant, needed and assuming prominence.

Mission, Purposes, and Goals

Mission: The proposed mission of the CBRN Special Interest Group is to foster collaboration among practitioners involved in research, education, management, and practice in prehospital, emergency, hospital and public health aspects of CBRN agents, including an emphasis on building evidence and best practice for general and casualty decontamination, mass casualty response, and the overall medical planning, preparedness and response to CBRN and related problems.

Purpose: The purposes of the CBRN SIG are to:

  • Define, explore and analyse CBRN casualty planning, preparedness, response, casualty management, rehabilitation and population recovery;
  • Exchange scientific and professional information relevant to the practice of CBRN response;
  • Encourage collaborative efforts enhancing and expanding the field of CBRN health research;
  • Contribute to the body of knowledge relating to CBRN agents and their best management;
  • Understand important sub-disciplines in CBRN medicine such as casualty decontamination, mass casualty management, and health informed CBRN risk analysis and management.

Goals: The goals of the CBRN SIG are to:

  • Develop a database of CBRN links and resources;
  • Integrate state of the art CBRN casualty management into WADEM activities and programs;
  • Foster the professional growth of the members of the CBRN SIG;
  • Train and educate researchers on the science of CBRN medical research.


David Heslop, PhD, MPH, MBBS
SIG ChairAustralia

Associate Professor David Heslop is the Director of Health Management at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, at UNSW Sydney. He retains significant military responsibilities as Senior Medical Adviser for CBRNE to Special Operations Headquarters Australia and to Australian Defence Force (ADF) joint senior leadership and is a Family Physician and Occupational Physician. He has published in the areas of epidemic modeling, disaster management, CBRNE medicine, and military health systems.

His current research effort and interests focus on complexity science, agent-based and deterministic modelling, emergent complex adaptive systems phenomena, test and evaluation of systems, policy research, epidemic modelling, exotic and emerging infections, disaster preparedness and response, organisational resilience in health care, development of robust socio-technical systems in health care, and the modelling, simulation and investigation of public health interventions and systems.