Armed Hostilities

Chemical Attack on the Super Bowl: Recovery Plan

Emergency Response Scenario and Thesis Statement

The Super Bowl takes place in the Louisiana Superdome that has a capacity for a football game of 72,000 people. The Super Bowl is the most significant event in the football season, so the Superdome is full. During the first minutes of the first quarter, fans report a specific smell (bitter almond) that comes from the bathrooms. Hydrogen cyanide (HCN) has been released through the ventilation system in the bathrooms. Those who have visited the bathrooms suffer from severe symptoms of cyanide poisoning, and other fans experience symptoms of different severity. The emergency response will involve local law enforcement and healthcare agencies, as well as FBI coordinators, and will include such measures as evacuation, detection of the contaminating agent and estimation of the affected area, the provision of medical care to the affected, and communication procedures.

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Outline for the Plan


The scenario is associated with the contamination of a vast area and people’s poisoning with a highly toxic (and often lethal) gas. Surleva, Gradinaru, and Drochioiu (2012) claim that hydrogen cyanide is peculiar as to its impact since the effect is different for “a short exposure to a high concentration” and “a long exposure to a low concentration” (p. 83). The major symptoms of cyanide poisoning are headaches, giddiness, in severe cases, these include convulsions, unconsciousness, heart attack, paralysis of the central respiratory center, coma (Surleva et al., 2012). Pitschmann (2012) stresses that HCN, as well as other types of chemical weapons, are effective weapons of mass destruction. It is often used in terroristic attacks as it is easily accessible (produced in large quantities for various purposes) and very toxic. It can affect thousands of people and contaminate vast areas.

Procedures and Immediate Responders: Evacuation and Medical Aid

First responders are employees of the Superdome who will notify the police and will start the evacuation. Hall, Cooper, Marciani, and McGee (2012) state that full evacuation is a standard procedure in case of “chemical spill” (p. 105). Such local agencies as police and nearby hospitals will also be involved. Police will manage the evacuation process as they have the necessary resources and training. As to the resources, it is mainly manpower as the employees of the stadium will be unable to handle 72,000 people.

Police will also provide respirators especially in zones of major impact. Most importantly, this local agency will identify the areas of major, medium and minimal impact to make sure that the evacuation process is effective. Pacsial-Ong and Aguilar (2013) note that there are numerous detection devices that can identify a number of chemicals and the level of poisonous chemicals in the air (or water and soil if necessary). Police departments have access to such devices.

Finally, police will also secure the area to make sure that bystanders or journalists will not be exposed to the poisonous gas. Healthcare facilities located nearby will provide care to people with symptoms of HCN poisoning. Emergencies will be sent to the venue to provide care to people suffering from severe poisoning symptoms. Bolz, Dudonis, and Schulz (2016) note that psychological support should also be provided to the victims of this attack.

As for the state agency involvement, it may be necessary to address the National Guard through the state Office of Emergency Services who may have more resources (as compared to local police departments) to address the attack of that kind (Bolz et al., 2016). However, since no other threat has occurred, there will be no need in involving that agency. When it comes to the federal level, the FBI will be involved. The FBI will provide the necessary guidance to local authorities. This federal agency has particular plans to respond to different types of incidents including the chemical attack. The FBI will cooperate with local agencies (police departments) that are responsible for the provision of all the necessary information and resources to the FBI representatives.

Procedures and Immediate Responders: Communication

Proper communication with the stakeholders is critical for the effective emergency response. First, the communication among immediate responders should be properly managed. Stadium employees should notify the police and healthcare facilities about the incident (Hall et al., 2012). The police, in their turn, have to collaborate with healthcare facilities to make sure that all the fans will receive the necessary medical care. Police officers should be aware of the availability of emergencies at different locations. The emergency operators should involve all local healthcare providers and ensure proportionate distribution of people affected. It is necessary to avoid the situations when some hospitals are overcrowded while other nearby healthcare facilities are not involved.

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As has been mentioned above, local police can address the state Office of Emergency Services if necessary, but they are obliged to notify the FBI (Bolz et al., 2016). The communication between the FBI Incident Officer and the local agencies involved will be established through specific channels with the use of radio, cell phones and in person (in the coordination center that can be set up in the nearest police department). Notably, the Incident Commander will have the final authority to make decisions concerning the immediate response to the emergency (including the treatment of people affected and the provision of information to other stakeholders).

As to the communication with the public, it will also be established through a number of channels. First, Superdome employees and police will inform people about the most important information (concerning the evacuation and ways to address certain symptoms) through the facility’s communication systems and loudspeakers (Hall et al., 2012). Media (mainly TV) will be another source of information for many people (fans, their families as well as the rest of the nation). The mayor will also launch a press conference several hours after the incident to provide the most detailed information on the attack as well as measures undertaken by police, healthcare providers, and other local authorities. For instance, authorities may cover some financial expenses of the affected people and their families.

Social networks can also be used to inform the public about the incident and certain measures undertaken. People should know about actions the authorities carry out to feel safe. The fans will also be able to learn more about possible health hazards. Some may feel fine immediately after the incident and refuse to go to the hospital. At that, some symptoms may be less noticeable while other symptoms may appear certain time after the exposure. Thus, people should know what to do. They should also be informed about various opportunities of receiving psychological support. The police will also communicate with media and provide the most updated information on the matter. It is possible to include the list of healthcare facilities that accept the victims of the attack. This will help relatives to find their close ones.


On balance, it is possible to note that the chemical attack will be addressed by local, state and federal agencies. Superdome employees, police and healthcare facilities will be the immediate responders. Police will address the National Guard if their resources are insufficient. This local agency will also notify the FBI about the incident. The FBI officer will provide guidance concerning the immediate response to the incident. The communication will be ensured through the corresponding channels. The police can be regarded as the core of the emergency response as they will communicate or rather coordinate with the public and healthcare personnel. The public will receive information from the Superdome employees and police, as well as media. Social networks can be a potent tool to inform people about the incident and possible actions to take for those who have been exposed to the poisonous elements.


Bolz, F., Dudonis, K. J., Schulz, D. P. (2016). The counterterrorism handbook: Tactics, procedures, and techniques. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Bolz et al. (2016) provide valuable insights into the way terrorism is handled in the modern world with the focus on the United States. The authors describe various measures and procedures established to address different acts of terrorism. The ways to respond to chemical attacks are also considered. The book is valuable for the present research as it sheds light on responsibilities of governmental agencies at different levels. It also contains various details of effective recovery plans that can be used to develop the recovery plan in question.

Hall, S. A., Cooper, W. E., Marciani, L., & McGee, J. A. (2012). Security management for sports and special events: An interagency approach to creating safe facilities. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

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Hall et al. (2012) provide a detailed analysis of security management of various events characterized by the gathering of hundreds and thousands of people. The researchers explore strategies used to prevent and address numerous threats including a chemical attack. This book is an important source as it includes the description of specific procedures that have already been tested and proved to be successful. This information will help develop an efficient and evidence-based recovery plan.

Pacsial-Ong, E. J., & Aguilar, Z. P. (2013). Chemical warfare agent detection: A review of current trends and future perspective. Frontiers in Bioscience, 5(2), 516-543.

Pacsial-Ong and Aguilar (2013) examine the most recent trends in chemical warfare agents’ detection. The researchers describe various methods and tools that can be applicable under different circumstances. The article is valuable for the recovery plan as it can help in choosing the most effective detection method that is one of the procedures to be implemented.

Pitschmann, V. (2014). Overall view of chemical and biochemical weapons. Toxins, 6(6), 1761-1784.

Pitschmann (2014) provides a brief description of the history and current trends of chemical weapons production. The researcher states that CHN is one of the most dangerous weapons as it is a highly toxic gas and it is (and can be) produced in large quantities in many parts of the world, which makes it available to potential terrorists. This article is of particular interest to the recovery plan as it sheds light on the peculiarity of the poison and its effects, as well as the history of its use.

Surleva, A., Gradinaru, R., & Drochioiu, G. (2012). Cyanide poisoning: From physiology to forensic analytical chemistry. International Journal of Criminal Investigation, 2(2), 79-101.

Surleva et al. (2012) provide a detailed analysis of peculiarities of cyanide poisoning, possible types of exposure and treatment, as well as some detection strategies. This article is a valuable source for the development of the recovery plan as it contains relevant data concerning the major issue to address. It is essential to understand the nature of the threat and ways to respond effectively to develop an effective plan. The description of possible ways to respond to the exposure will be of special interest as the police should inform those affected about particular steps to undertake to address the symptoms.

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