Let's Take a PEEK at PEAC-WMD - by S. Bruce King
NBC Indicator Matrix in the PEAC-WMD application
This month we'll visit the NBC Indicator Matrix feature
and how it is implemented in the PEAC-WMD application.
The original guide was developed by the US Department
of Defense (DOD) that assesses the observed symptoms of a large number of victims
to provide guidance as to the type of possible weapon of mass destruction (WMD) agent
to which they have been exposed. The tool may or may not be useful in a real scenario
and it is certainly not a substitute for appropriate sensor or detector systems or
laboratory analysis that can positively identify a WMD agent that has affected victims.
NOTE: Be careful when using this tool!
should also be pointed out that if only a single victim or small numbers of victims
many are demonstrating certain symptoms, the likelihood of a WMD incident is reduced.
WMD events typically involve a large number of victims where most are exhibiting the
same or many of the same symptoms. The user should always keep in mind that these
symptoms might be exhibited by other maladies, e.g., heart attack, food poisoning,
allergic reactions. Even if the incident does involve WMD agents, this tool does not
attempt to identify a specific agent, only the type of agent.
The NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) Indicator
Matrix was developed by the US DOD in the early 1990s to provide visual cues for the
First Responder to assist in determining the possible WMD agent used to incapacitate
a number of victims. More than one WMD agent exhibits many of the symptoms described
and the technique is not proof positive that the victims have been exposed to a specific
type of agent. There are several factors that control or effect the exhibition of
the described symptoms: (1) the amount of exposure, (2) the elapsed time since exposure,
and (3) an individuals tolerance or sensitivity to the agent to which they have been
exposed. Therefore, as time passes, symptoms may change, i.e., additional symptoms
may appear or a victims behavior may worsen or improve as exposure is increased or
The original NBC Indicator Matrix was developed for
a hardcopy system and consisted of two pages as shown in Figures 1 and 2.
Figure 1 - NBC Indicator Matrix
2 NBC Indicator Matrix (Page 2)
The user of the system would proceed from the top
of the list of symptoms by observing the victims for each of the listed items. If
a symptom were observed, then the user would check any open boxes (not shaded) on
that line. After all symptoms have been processed, the number of checks in each column
for both pages are summed and the column with the most checks is the most likely agent
to which the victims have been exposed.
As shown at the bottom for Figure 2, there are eight
(8) possible classes of WMD agents. The user is only given the class, not a specific
agent within that class of WMD agents.
To access the PEAC-WMD NBC Indicator Matrix feature
the user simply selects the pull down menu by clicking on Tools and then selects
the NBC Indicator Matrix selection from the list of option as shown in Figure
3. The NBC Indicator Matrix can also be accessed via the
 icon at the top
of the screen. A screen similar to that shown in Figure 4 will be displayed.
Figure 3 Accessing the NBC Indicator
Figure 4 The NBC Indicator Matrix
The NBC Indicator Matrix screen is designed to replicate the list of symptoms
as shown in Figures 1 and 2, by displaying one group of symptoms at a time. To check
a symptom as being observed, the user simply clicks on the symptom, which will highlight
it as shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5 Check a symptom by clicking
to highlight the symptom
Figure 6 Click on a highlighted
entry to uncheck and remove the highlight
To remove a check, click again and remove the highlight as shown in Figure 6.
Continue highlighting symptoms, there are several
pages of symptoms. To go to the next page of symptoms, click on the [Next] button,
as shown in Figure 7. After the last page of symptoms (HISTORY or ENVIRONMENTAL) are
highlighted, see Figure 8, click on the [OK] button to display the WMD agent
list from the PEAC‑WMD application that matches the most likely WMD agent as
per the NBC Indicator Matrix analysis. Click on the [Cancel] button
to exit, or click on the [Reset] button to erase all highlighted symptoms and
begin at the beginning of the list.
Figure 7 Continue to the next
page of symptoms
Figure 8 Click [OK] after the
last page of symptoms is processed
The NBC Indicator Matrix is implemented in the PEAC-WMD application to accelerate
and simplify the process of checking boxes. Rather than observe a symptom and then
check all the open boxes and finally sum all the checks in each column, the PEAC‑WMD
application keeps track of each symptom the user has observed and does the sum internally
as the user steps through the procedure. As indicated in Figures 7 and 8, the user
should step through all symptom pages before clicking on [OK] to display the
This has some obvious advantages for the user. First,
it relieves the user from having to carry a hardcopy of the NBC Indicator Matrix while
observing victims and carrying a pen or pencil to make the check marks. Second, if
the user decides to re-evaluate or re-assess the symptoms because of changes over
time, the user can step back through the symptoms and modify which symptoms are highlighted
(checked) or not. This eliminates the requirement for carrying multiple copies of
the NBC Indicator Matrix hardcopy. Third, when the user has completed processing
the symptoms and is given the most likely WMD agent responsible for the symptoms,
the user can automatically access the PEAC-WMD list of agents associated with the
indicated agent. This is done by clicking on [OK] button at the bottom of the
The PEAC-WMD application will automatically display
a dynamic list of materials in the PEAC-WMD database that fall into the most likely
WMD agent category determined by the NBC Indicator Matrix, see Figure 9.
Display of results and possible WMD agents in the category
The NBC Indicator Matrix Results report (shown on the right side of the window
example in Figure 9) is a summary of the symptoms the user has checked plus the most
likely and second most likely class of agent the mass casualties have been exposed
to. The list can be copied to the clipboard and then into another report or printed
to the local printer.
As with the other assessment or calculation tools
in the PEAC-WMD application, the application automatically saves a copy of the NBC
Indicator Matrix Results report for later retrieval. By selecting the Prior
Results option from the drop down menu, previous NBC Indicator Matrix Results reports
can be found with the "NBCIM" string at the beginning of the file name and the date
and time stamp making up the remainder of the name. A selected previous result can
be viewed, copied to the clipboard for pasting into another document, or printed to
a local printer.