Ultimately the best method of detection of terrorism using weapons of mass destruction involves the early recognition through surveillance methods for early warning and detection of agents and organisms to facilitate emergency response, sheltering vs. evacuation and specific treatment, decontamination and patient care.
Various methods are currently available for detection from economical and easily utilized and interpreted paper litmus type detection methods to very expensive and complex mass spectrometry means of detection.
All require the appropriate communication and existent disaster preparedness and notification methods and training to enhance the response and care of multiple casualties. Additionally, the sharing of data and information including dispatch calls, over the counter pharmaceutical usage, ill or dead animals, and increased clinic or medical office visits may be the sentinel signals and harbingers of a terrorist biological or chemical agent release. Inclusion of a possible terrorist activity in the differential diagnosis for multiple patients with similar symptom presentations could assist in the early detection, diagnosis, treatment and mitigation of biological or chemically exposed patients.
Historical information is one of the most important considerations when trying to detect nuclear, biological or chemical agents. Law enforcement may have received advance intelligence potentially warning of an event. Examining the clothing, skin as well as obtaining the subjective and objective complaints are important in the detection of these type of incidents.