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 October 2005

Technically Speaking

Let's Take a PEEK
at PEAC-WMD v.5

Customer Service Corner

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Wonderful Wyoming

Seriously Speaking

Something To Think About

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. 

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Be careful when using this tool!
It should also be pointed out that if only a single victim or small numbers of victims out of
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, or
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 decreased. 

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 (Page 1)

 Figure 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 Matrix feature

Figure 4 The NBC Indicator Matrix screen

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 results.

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 window.

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.

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.

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