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Homeland Security

Scenario 12: Explosives Attack - Bombing Using Improvised Explosive Device

Executive Summary

Casualties 100 fatalities; 450 hospitalizations
Infrastructure Damage Structures affected by blast and fire
Evacuations/Displaced Persons Minimal
Contamination None
Economic Impact Local
Potential for Multiple Events Yes
Recovery Timeline Weeks to months

Scenario Overview:

General Description -

In this scenario, agents of the Universal Adversary (UA) use improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to detonate bombs inside a sports arena and create a large vehicle bomb (LVB). They also use suicide bombers in an underground public transportation concourse and detonate another bomb in a parking facility near the entertainment complex. An additional series of devices is detonated in the lobby of the nearest hospital emergency room (ER).

The event is primarily designed for an urban environment, but could be adapted for more rural area events such as county fairs and other large gatherings. Casualty estimates would be reduced as a function of a reduced target population and less population density at target points.

Timeline/Event Dynamics -

The fire is ignited approximately 1 hour after the start of the entertainment event. The detonation of explosives is delayed approximately 10 to 15 minutes after the ignition of the fire in order to allow for detection, evacuation, and response of emergency services providers. The detonation of explosives at the hospital site will be the hardest to time for maximum effect and may need to be coordinated by some communication among cell members. In any case, the hospital device should be detonated before the arrival of casualties from the entertainment venue.

The timing of some of these events, with the exception of the evacuation stimulus, is not critical. The more people who evacuate the venue, the more potential explosives-related casualties are produced. If evacuation of the venue is delayed, the fire and detonation of the LVB near the venue can be expected to produce increased casualties inside the structure due to collapse, secondary and tertiary blast effects, increased exposure to products of combustion, thermal effects, and crowd surge.

Secondary Hazards/Events -

Secondary hazards include the disruption of electric power, natural gas lines, and water mains - the disruption will cause undermining of streets and flooding of underground transit ways. There may be toxic smoke resulting from fires and explosions. There will be loss of traffic controls in the area, and fleeing citizens would likely cause traffic accidents. Media response to the area may affect responders. Since one of the bombs was disguised as an emergency response vehicle, other "legitimate" vehicles may be impeded in their response to the scene and hospitals.

Key Implications:

Casualties will result at all five incident sites and will include civilians, emergency personnel, and the suicide bombers. The LVB detonation outside the venue can be expected to result in the largest number of fatalities and injuries due to the "population density" expected. Fatalities and injuries are summarized in Table 12-1.

Incident or Location Fatalities Serious Injuries
Fire 8 150
Large Vehicle Bomb 35 200
Car bomb 7 40
Transportation center
8 50
Hospital 8 40

Table 12-1. Summary of fatalities and serious injuries as a result of the bombings

Property damage would include severe fire and blast damage to the entertainment venue, blast damage to buildings across from the entertainment venue, moderate damage to the transportation center, severe damage to vehicles and nearby buildings at the parking facility, and severe damage to the hospital ER.

Service disruption would be severe in the impacted city and would include traffic (especially the subway), public transportation, emergency services, and hospitals. The local economic impact includes loss of use of the entertainment venue for a period of 1 year during the repair of fire and blast damage.

Major health issues include severe burn treatment and therapy for the victims; permanent hearing loss; long-term tinnitus; vertigo for some exposed to the blast; and post-traumatic stress for victims, first responders, and nearby residents.

Mission Areas Activated:

Prevention/Deterrence/Protection - The planning and execution of this event would require a significant level of relatively unsophisticated coordination. As such, the potential for detection in the pre-event planning stages exists.

Emergency Assessment/Diagnosis - The fire would be the first recognizable indication that the attack was under way. Actions required include dispatch; agent detection; and hazard assessment, prediction, monitoring, and sampling.

Emergency Management/Response - Actions required include search and rescue, alerts, activation and notification, traffic and access control, protection of special populations, resource support, requests for assistance, and public information. Establishment of a Joint Operations Center (JOC) is required.

Incident/Hazard Mitigation - Primary hazards include fire; toxic atmosphere/smoke; un-detonated explosives; unstable structures; electrical hazards; and low visibility. Hospital personnel must ensure that arriving vehicles are not delivery systems for additional weapons.

Public Protection - Evacuation is required as well as additional threat assessment. The area must be cordoned.

Victim Care - Injuries range from "walking wounded" to multiple systems trauma, burns, and obvious fatalities. Elimination of the ER facility at the target hospital will force other facilities to receive all patients from the entertainment venue blasts.

Investigation/Apprehension - Investigation can begin during the rescue phase with photo documentation of the immediate scene, victim locations, and injury patterns. Coordination of federal, state, and local investigative resources will begin early in the incident management.

Recovery/Remediation - Decontamination is necessary for blood-borne pathogens at all sites. Debris removal must occur after evidence search and recovery. Restoration of the main venue could take more than 1 year (depending on the extent of the fire damage). Repair and restoration of the transportation center can be estimated at 4 months. Note: The full-text version of this document contains overpressure templates and calculations, as well as tables outlining human injury and property damage criteria for various levels of blast overpressure.

Note: The full-text version of this document contains overpressure templates and calculations, as well as tables outlining human injury and property damage criteria for various levels of blast overpressure.

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