Chemical weapon attacks
Terrorist attacks in Australia usually involve basic weapons, explosives and/or firearms. However, owner and operators should also prepare for attacks that are more complex. This includes chemical weapon attacks that can be crude or sophisticated.
Owners and operators must know how to protect their space. This includes understanding the characteristics of chemical weapon attacks.
Characteristics of chemical weapon attacks
A chemical weapon is a device or mechanism designed to deliberately deploy harmful chemicals. In these attacks, terrorists use toxic chemicals rather than explosives to cause harm.
All chemicals act differently. This means there are no common indicators of an attack. Some common symptoms include, people collapsing, shortness of breath, dizziness, unconsciousness and feeling of nausea.
In some cases, there may be no immediate and obvious signs that an attack has occurred.
People who get exposed to chemical weapons may have:
- eye irritation
- visual changes
- vomiting and diarrhoea
- coughing and breathing difficulties
- muscle weakness, paralysis and seizures
- skin redness, irritation and burns
- collapse, loss of consciousness, or death.
Protecting your crowded place
Security measures should detect, deter, delay, and respond to chemical weapons.
In the context of a chemical threat or release Owners and operators should develop a strong security culture:
- review current emergency and evacuation plans
- make staff aware of their role in the emergency evacuation plans
- plan your evacuation route and communication
- educate staff on the health effects of a chemical weapon attack
- train staff to run white level inspections (white level inspections are conducted to ensure your workplace is secure)
- ensure staff know how to report suspicious articles and people
- train staff to notice unattended items and suspicious people
- put in place robust procedures to screen mail
- test all emergency evacuation plans and white level inspection procedures
- check you have easy access to first aid supplies
- ensure you have identified first aid locations and qualified first aid staff.
During an attack
The main goal of any response plan should be to minimise harm.
Owners and operators of crowded places should do what they can to protect lives.
In the event of an attack:
- render first aid
- contact police and emergency services
- contain the incident or threat
- activate existing emergency plans
- assess the incident and build situational awareness
- provide instructions to staff and patrons
- decide to evacuate using existing plans or alternative safe routes.
Chemical Weapon Guidelines for Crowded Places
Chemical Weapon Guidelines for Crowded Places for more information on how to protect your crowded place.
If you are a member of the public find out What to do in an attack.