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Gearing Up and Getting There: Improving Local Response to Chemical Terrorism

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This dissertation identifies policies and organizational options at the local level that could save lives and reduce injury likely to occur from an act of chemical terrorism. It seeks out low-cost ways to improve the current performance level in responding to chemical terrorism, using Los Angeles as a case study. The dissertation attempts to determine the level of risk of chemical terrorism in Los Angeles and identify the anticipated magnitude for which emergency responders and decisionmakers should plan. Then it considers current capability and performance levels in chemical terrorism response and determines a performance goal for response to the planning magnitude. Through modeling and simulation, the dissertation presents low-cost options in equipment, training, organization and doctrine that could improve the response to a chemical terrorist event. Finally the dissertation examines these options in terms of budget considerations in Los Angeles. The dissertation's findings point to decentralizing counter-chemical terrorism equipment throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan area; reformulating those doctrinal policies that may inadvertently slow the mitigation process; establishing low-cost training methods to enhance the specialized knowledge needed to respond effectively; putting polices in place to accelerate the decontamination process; and focusing on an all-hazards approach to preparedness.