CBRN Emergency Preparedness Workshop


About the workshop

Date: December 5 (Mon) to 9 (Fri), 2016
Venue: Vienna, Austria
Co-hosted by: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Austrian Red Cross (Austrian RC)


Following the severe earthquake and tsunami which triggered a nuclear accident in March 2011 in Japan, the Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies (NSs) adopted a resolution on preparedness to respond to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear accidents.

The objective of this resolution is to improve the knowledge and competence of IFRC and the NSs in order to play a greater role in preparedness and response efforts for radiological and nuclear emergencies and to build up capacity to cope with the humanitarian consequences during and after a nuclear accident.

IFRC has developed with the support of NSs operational guidelines for nuclear & radiological emergencies - preparedness, response and recovery which are the basis for this (CB)RN (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear) preparedness workshop. In this document, we tried to capture the main points relevant for IFRC and NSs to address such kind of hazards and ensure the staff and volunteers safety and enable them to respond accordingly in their national role.

This workshop has been developed to ensure an appropriate dissemination of the IFRC guidelines and to enable NSs to get better acquainted with the specificities of an operation in this special kind of emergencies and disasters and enable them to address the humanitarian needs of the affected population according to their mandate.

Focus of this workshop is to enable NSs to plan, prepare for and to review their operational emergency structure for (CB)RN emergencies.


The workshop aimed to provide participants from NSs with practical information and tools as laid out in the IFRC Nuclear emergency guidelines. As an outcome of this workshop participants should be able to:

  • Define their National Society’s contingency plan for CBRN events based on their existing services and mandate assigned by their civil authorities.
  • Understand the policy framework in which the IFRC and NSs have their respective roles in addressing CBRN hazards.
  • Be aware how to define CBRN risk and hazard scenarios and ways to analyse them to define and address their respective humanitarian impact and needs.
  • Be aware of the duty and responsibility to care for staff and volunteers’ responders to CBRN scenarios and the relevant protective measures that can and should be undertaken by NSs.
  • Understand the role of other actors (national and International) when planning for and responding to CBRN emergencies.

Moreover, during the workshop the participants had the possibility to:

  • Exchange best practices information in setting up CBRN EPR (Emergency Preparedness and Response) tools.
  • Share information on available teams and equipment in the area of CBRN.
  • Discuss ways to support each other regionally in CBRN preparedness and response activities.
  • Share opportunities for training and capacity building exercises.


The meeting targeted programmatic and operational experts globally from Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies involved in Disaster Preparedness and Response, especially with experience in CBRN threats, and the relevant IFRC & ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) representatives interested in bringing together a network of specialists, trying to build up capacity through constructive dialogue. Participants shall be in a position to develop for their National Societies a programmatic plan which will enable them to take up a meaningful position in national, regional and International CBRN activities.

The 31 participants from 17 NSs plus ICRC and IFRC gathered for 5 days in Vienna to learn more about the specific challenges on operations involving chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological hazards.

Participants of the Workshop [PDF]

This workshop was hosted by Austrian RC who provided a major support and contribution to the successful organisation and positive proceedings of the various sessions.

Link to Agenda and Presentations [PDF]
Presentations introduced in each session are linked from the agenda.


12 Reasons Why a National Society Should Initiate a CBRN Initiative?
Key Prepositions

  • The core question to be answered is: Why should the NS peruse a CBRN effort – seeking resources of time money and attention as opposed to other actions.
  • Most NS leaders know that human need always exceeds available resources. BUT, they are generally receptive to initiatives that accomplish the most possible within the framework of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (Movement).
  • The WHY of doing something must be accepted before, a commitment to the HOW.

The objective is to secure an initial commitment followed by logical plan and progressive actions over time

  • Compound [natural & technological] are on the rise
  • Globalization of media and public perception and expectations
  • Increased global population urbanization and concentration
  • High public expectations when an event happens
  • Demonstrates Red Cross added value to civil authorities
  • Greater NS exposure to donors and general public
  • Sole focus on the present leaves the NS ill-suited for the future
  • CBRN attention is a very efficient action, preparing for/addressing multiple similar and inevitable risks
  • The NS will suffer public value when it does not effectively respond to an inevitable future CBRN event
  • An opportunity to seek to gain partners and volunteers
  • CBRN preparedness closely aligns with the near-term 2020 direction & objectives of the Movement
  • CBRN Hazards are the Significant Disasters of The Future

These 12 key points were a result of intensive discussions and group work of the participants who had to explore the issue of CBRN for their own National society in their own context. The various technical presentations mixed with the evidence based experiences from some NSs like the Japanese Red Cross Society enabled the participants to discuss and evaluate the issue of CBRN and the potential impact on their existing work and services provided in their domestic operations. The exposure to an impact of a CBRN emergency has been deepened through a number of hands on exercises and table top scenarios as well as a practical demonstration of the Austrian RC/Vienna Branch CBRN detection unit.

Follow up

After this workshop, it is expected that participants would proceed their planning/implementation process towards (CB)RN event with knowledge, discussion, tools and networks introduced in the workshop. IFRC and Movement partners are planning to follow up this workshop to support participants to solve challenges they may face in the way forward. IFRC is also planning to organize in the future another workshop and to invite other NS participants who could not attend at this occasion.

Feedback from some participants

Two of the participants gave feedback about the workshop.