Looking back at NCT Virtual USA
NCT Virtual USA was the second NCT event of the year, connecting key actors from the government, NGO and industry! During this two-days event, 2-3 March 2021, stakeholders from the American CBRNe, EOD, and C-IED –community came together to exchange knowledge in an interactive environment. High-level speakers shared their insights on the most pressing issues and challenges facing the CBRNe community at large during the multifaceted conference sessions and panel discussions chaired by BG (Ret.) William King, Former Commander of the US Army 20th CBRNe Command.
By spending an average time of 13 hours in the environment, our 245 attendees proved their interest in the NCT Virtual platform and conference. Although most of our visitors were from the United States, delegates from Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, Czech Republic, New Zealand, and the Philippines, and many more also joined the two-day conference. The 7,607 content views showed once again how accessible the NCT virtual platform is! In addition, the engagement from the attendees was remarkable as the questions they posed made the conference even more interactive for our speakers as well as for the audience.
In total NCT Virtual USA hosted 20 exhibitors! Companies were able to engage with delegates and prospective clients. While various pavilions allowed government agencies and organizations to highlight their work in the field, and for the international and national delegates to learn more about these organizations, namely, JPEO-CBRND, US Army DEVCOM Chemical Biological Center, Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), US Department of Health & Human Services, Office for Bombing Prevention, US Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense (USAMRICD).
Conference Day 1
A panel on CBRN Projections 2021-2031: Anticipating Future Challenges opened the day; the session was the perfect way to begin the virtual conference experience for a community that has to stay ahead of the curve. COL Eric Towns, Deputy Director, Joint Requirements Office (CJCS J8), kicked off the day with his insights into Enabling Command and Control in CBRN Environments. Dr. Gene Stark, Director, Future Acquisition, JPM-Protection, JPEO-CBRND, then shared his knowledge through a presentation covering Chemical Agent Resistance coatings trade space analysis. The first panel ended with Dr. Richard Schoske, Chief, Diagnostics and Detection Division, DTRA, who spoke about Preparing for Emerging Threats with Innovative Detection and Diagnostic Approaches.
Adapting Trainings to New Challenges Posed by EOD and IEDs was the second panel of the day. Two well-established men in the field addressed this very current topic but with very different backgrounds. Sgt. Christopher Connolly, Commander, Boston Police EOD Unit, addressed the challenges and how the EOD has changed in his 30-years of service. He also touched upon the fact that we should not necessarily always try to come up with new technological innovations, rather improve on what we already have. While one of the industry leaders, Serstech’s Mr. Johan Ranake, Chief Sales Officer, illustrated the importance of the right equipment to help to counter the threat from EOD and IEDs through various technological innovations.
The final panel of day 1 focused on the Civil Response to CBRNE and IED Threats with speakers from the Miami Dade Fire Rescue, FBI, and Massachusetts State Fire Department, respectfully. Lt. Alvaro Javier Toñanez, Exercise Planner/Training Officer, Hazardous Materials Bureau, Miami Dade Fire Rescue, focused on the Local/ National Response to CBRNE Emergencies. While SA James Peaco, Special Agent/Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordinator, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), shared an overview of FBI’s all-encompassing partnerships, training, and response tactics. The final speaker, wrapping up the session, was Massachusetts’s very own Mr. David Digregorio, Director Hazmat Department, Massachusetts State Fire Department, who gave his insights into the CBRNe Interagency Cooperation.
Conference Day 2
The second day opened with a panel focusing on the “hot-topic of 2020-2021”; Multi-Agency response to COVID-19. Dr. Kevin Wingerd, Chief Technical Officer at JPM CBRN Medical and advisor to Joint Program Manager, MCS, kicked off this session with insights into JPEO-CBRN’s approach to the ongoing pandemic. This was followed with an all-encompassing look into the Federal COVID-19 Operation with COL Victor Suarez, Vaccine Program Manager, Federal COVID-19 Response Vaccine Team, Moderna PCT-Program Manager, offering his insight into the effectiveness of Moderna-vaccines in the fight against the pandemic. The first panel closed with Mr. David Caretti, Chief, Chemical Biological Protection and Decontamination Division, DEVCOM CBC, and Mr. Kevin Wallace, Division Chief, Systems Engineering and Acquisition, DEVCOM CBC, offering their intake on various developments, e.g., 3-D printed test-swabs, finding out the best practices to decontaminate large surfaces and the importance of partnerships and inter-agency cooperation to combat COVID-19.
The afternoon panel started with CPT Rafael Polo, the Commander of the 55th Ordnance company EOD, US Army, sharing his insights from the EOD-field, highlighting the importance of training, teamwork and lessons learned through real-life training scenarios. Mr. Shawn Kelley, National Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Capabilities Analysis Database (NCCAD), offered information on the various technical and preventive counter-IED programs and resources that the Office for Bombing Prevention offers and illustrated these with the many real-life examples. While, Lt. Mark Torre, Commander, NYPD Bomb Squad, gave insights into the inner workings of NYPD Bomb squad, with real-life scenarios, with perhaps the most well-known one being the Chelsea-Bomb incident.
The conference closed with a panel on Testing and Evaluation to Improve Response to Evolving CBRNe Threats. Dr. James Watson, Associate Director, Operational Applications Directorate, DEVCOM CBC, spoke about Meeting the need for test and evaluation of evolving CBRNe Threat, covering both chemical and biological threats, procurement and decontamination procedures of large surfaces and new tests being conducted to determine how long the virus stays on different surfaces. Whereas Ms. Meghan Treber, ICF TRACIE Project Director, ASPR TRACIE, HHS, USA, introduced the various programs that TRACIE offers for emergency preparedness.
We would like to sincerely thank all our delegates and speakers as well as our sponsors: ADS Inc., Heyltex Corporation, Bruker, Meridian Medical Technologies Inc and SIGA, for making the event possible! We are looking forward to seeing you in-person for NCT USA on 7-9 September 2021. In the meantime, remember to tune in for NCT Virtual Europe on 31 March 2021!