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by the NFCC


Terrorist incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (explosives) materials (CBRN(E)) occuring in the United Kingdom, although highly unlikely, would have a significant societal impact. Historically, the advice and training for initial responders for incidents of this nature, whether actual or potential, has been to 'stand off and wait for the specialists'.

This national operational guidance for the initial operational response to CBRN(E) incidents has been created in the light of developments in scientific understanding and lessons learned from exercises and real incidents. It is based on Initial Operational Response to a CBRN(E) Incident published by the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (JESIP).

The focus of the initial operational response (IOR) to a suspected or confirmed CBRN(E) incident is to save as many lives as possible. To do this, the emergency services must be aware of their roles and responsibilities, what they can do to save lives safely, and in the most effective time.

The initial operational response starts from the very first call to the emergency services or in response to a self-presenter at a healthcare premises. The role of the call handler, supervisor or first responder in identifying a potential CBRN(E) incident - giving correct, but simple, advice to the caller and dispatching the right resources - is critical. The first responders should work together quickly and efficiently to save lives - including conducting a Joint Dynamic Hazard Assessment (JDHA) to inform multi-agency decision making - to achieve a safe multi-agency response and deliver an effective resolution to the incident for the public and emergency responders alike.

CBRN(E) terrorism is defined as: the actual or threatened dispersal of CBRN(E) materials (either on their own or in combination, or with explosives) with deliberate criminal, malicious or murderous intent (Initial Operational Response to a CBRN Incident, JESIP, 2013).