This website condenses the work from our ESE 499: Senior Design Project from the Spring 2019 semester. The project brings together our diverse backgrounds of Biomedical, Systems, and Electrical Engineering; Computer Science; and Defense.
The Tokyo sarin attack of 1995 was the most successful terrorist chemical attack of the modern era, claiming 13 lives and injuring over 1,000 others. Due to its impact, detection methods and decontamination checkpoint procedures have been implemented across the world in subways to limit the catastrophic effect of a future chemical attack. In this report, the impact of implementing these methods on evacuation time and overall health of the population was studied in comparison to a control situation based off the Tokyo attack. An agent-based model was used to analyze the effect of implementing a detection method on overall health of the affected population, initial evacuation timing, and casualty rates. A queuing model was created and implemented in software to model the flow of evacuated victims through a proposed decontamination set-up and discover how this setup improved affected individual decontamination, transport, and limited further contamination. The results of the control detection setup were verified by the known statistical aftermath of the Tokyo attack, which validated any assumptions made. To conclude, a metric analysis was used to mathematically evaluate the impact of these procedures.
Why is Sarin a Threat?
Sarin is an extremely toxic, synthetic substance. It is transported as a colorless, odorless liquid, since it is not very stable as a gas. Since sarin is difficult to detect without enhanced senses or special tools, it becomes an extremely dangerous weapon.
Exposure to sarin can be lethal even in small concentrations, depending on duration and whether the victim goes untreated. Death occurs as a result of suffocation. Sarin alters the degradation of acetylcholine, which causes constant stimulation of muscles. This eventually causes lung muscles to stop working. If the dose or duration of exposure is not lethal, then the victim could still have long-term neurological damage. One of the first symptoms of sarin exposure is pin-hole pupils, due to the body’s muscles contracting. If left untreated, this symptom could lead to irreversible vision loss.
For more information on how sarin has been used as a weapon reference our background information on the Tokyo Sarin Attack.
There is an extremely limited amount of public study done on the response to terrorist attacks, and studying modeling of attack and response scenarios. Often, state and federal response plans to terrorist attacks are classified information, due to the potential impact of terrorist groups studying the response and causing more casualties or chaos by attacking the first responder routes or supply. However, the process of studying detection and decontamination, and overall evacuation, in a mathematical and academic sense can be applied to many similar scenarios, such as natural disaster or chemical spill detection and evacuation scenarios. Furthermore, these kind of scenarios have mostly been studied in public health aspects, and only looked at the qualitative effects on locations and people. Modeling these scenarios mathematically allows the discovery of specific points in the detection, decontamination, and evacuation processes that can be improved and make those processes more efficient, and result in the saving of lives.