CBRN / HazMat Training Blog

The key attributes of effective CBRN and HazMat training

Written by Steven Pike on 12 Oct 2017

Realistic CBRN and HazMat training scenarios have a crucial role to play in providing first responders and military personnel with life-saving knowledge and preparedness for CBRN incidents.  

A cornerstone of the CBRN training process is the design and delivery of hands-on scenarios that prepare participants, with as much realism as possible, for the physical, environmental and psychological challenges of real-life CBRN events.

In this blog post we explore the key qualities of effective CBRN instruction, the importance of creating authentic training scenarios and the vital contribution of electronic simulation detectors in delivering effective CBRN and HazMat training.


The benefits of simulators for radiation safety training

Written by Steven Pike on 06 Oct 2017

In March 2017, the UK Public Health Executive (PHE), published the results of a survey that explored the radiological impact of the transport of radioactive material by road and rail.

It calculated the number of packages of radioactive material consigned by road to be in the region of 110,000 to 150,000 per year, with 76% comprising the transport of radiopharmaceuticals for medical purposes, 20% for the civil nuclear industry and 4% for industrial radioactive sources.

The report concluded that, under normal safe-handling scenarios, there is a negligible risk of exposure to ionising radiation for those directly involved in the transport of radiological substances - in the region of 0.004 to 2 millisieverts (mSv) annually for the operatives responsible for loading and unloading; between 0.001 - 0.1 mSv per year for HGV drivers and 0.001 mSv for members of the public.

To put these figures into some kind of context, the PHE calculates that the average person in the UK is exposed to approximately 2.7 millisieverts (mSv) of ionising radiation per year, the majority of which comes from naturally occurring radiation in homes and workplaces, or from controlled medical exposure such as the use of MRIs, X-rays and CT scans.

But with the repeated transport and handling of any radioactive substance comes the risk, however small, of accidental release into the environment, such as in the case of a road traffic collision. In such situations, it is crucial that first responders are thoroughly trained in radiation safety procedures to ensure they can accurately identify, measure and contain any potential radioactive hazard.


PlumeSIM provides exciting addition to Steel Beasts HazMat training

Written by Steven Pike on 25 Sep 2017

With the growing risk worldwide of chemical and radiological threat within both military and civilian settings, there is an increasing need for a high quality and cost-effective means of incorporating support for CBRN and HazMat Hazards into existing training systems.

While in some cases, CBRN Hazard capability can be achieved by standalone technology (such as the wide-area, instrumented training system PlumeSIM,) in other situations it can be helpful for users to be able to simulate a scenario that replicates a combination of hazards that includes, but is not necessarily limited to, specific CBRN threats. In such circumstances too, it can also be preferable for users to be able to incorporate any additional CBRN hazard capability into their own existing simulation system.

This was the exciting opportunity facing Argon and independent software developer eSim Games, the creators of the vehicle-centric combined arms combat simulation and crew procedure training tool Steel Beasts Pro, when an existing Steel Beasts Pro user expressed a desire to incorporate Argon's CBRN simulation capability within exercises and a wish to see a concept demonstrator.

Steel Beasts Pro, currently used by the military in over 10 countries, is a collective military training system that integrates with battlefield management systems,containerised crew simulators and real combat vehicles.eSim Games' and Argons' goal was to be able to incorporate a range of CBRN hazards, including chemical and radiological threats, into the existing Steel Beasts Pro environment.

Recognising this need, and acknowledging that it is not also practical for individual organisations to develop such systems, Argon Electronics created the PlumeSIM API (Application Programme Interface.)


CBRN simulators bring realism to Bristol Police HazMat training

Written by Steven Pike on 20 Sep 2017

Argon Electronics' range of CBRN response training simulators has received high praise from the Police National CBRN Centre, following a recent chemical weapon threat HazMat training exercise at the Bristol City Football Ground in which trainees were required to provide security and safety for a half-marathon event.

The use of simulators brought a degree of realism to the exercise from the very start, with the release of simulated chemical agents taking place even while the commanders were still delivering their briefings, as Officer Paul Lacey from the Avon and Somerset Constabulary Police Headquarters, explained.


Marriage of SAAB Training Systems Gamer and Argon’s CBRN PlumeSIM

Written by Steven Pike on 17 Sep 2017


Live training systems such as SAAB’s Gamer have been in use by many organisations worldwide for a number of years to deliver effective training in a Live environment. Support for CBRN, however has been minimal, and in general has not extended beyond monitoring if the respirator has been donned.

Argon Electronics and SAAB Training Systems have cooperated to address this limitation by implementing an integration between Argons’ PlumeSIM Live CBRN training system and SAABs’ Gamer system.

This effort has resulted in the ability to generate CBRN threats within PlumeSIM that are reflected within the Gamer EXCON in real time. PlumeSIM also provided integration with Argons’ extensive range of Radiological and Chemical Warfare training simulators and their associated After Action Review capability.


What are the key outcomes of effective CBRN and HazMat training?

Written by Steven Pike on 23 Aug 2017

One of the ongoing challenges for CBRN and HazMat training instructors is the creation of realistic, sophisticated and engaging operational scenarios that give emergency crews and first responders hands-on, real-time experience of a range of potential CBRN incidents.

And while historically chemical warfare agent (CWA) training was more likely to have been carried out in private, specialist training areas such as a military base, for first responders there is an increased need for life-like CBRN or HazMat scenarios that can take place in civilian settings.

Simulation training, incorporating the use of simulator detectors, provides one crucial piece of the puzzle, utilising cutting-edge, computer-based simulator technology to replicate how actual devices will react when exposed to a range of invisible or near invisible chemical agents.

The use of electronic simulators provides the opportunity for trainees to become confident and proficient in the handling, reading and interpretation of their devices.


Revolutionising radiation safety training for UK first responders

Written by Steven Pike on 08 Aug 2017

The events of 9/11, and more recent terrorist incidents closer to home, have been pivotal in transforming the way that UK emergency services and agencies detect, prevent and respond to large-scale emergencies.

A well-equipped and highly-trained Fire and Rescue Service is essential to ensure the UK is prepared to respond with speed and certainty to any chemical incident, whether it be deliberate or accidental.

But while it's possible to replicate the risks of certain hazards in a controlled environment, it can be a more complex challenge to train first responders for the "invisible threat" of a radiation incident.

In this blog post Dai Swann, Head of Response for Pembrokeshire and Radiation Supervisor for the Mid and West Wales' Rescue Service, talks about the introduction of simulated radiation safety training for their crews. 

As he explains, the results have been "spectacular."


How to create realistic first responder radiation training scenarios

Written by Steven Pike on 25 Jul 2017

The ability to project realism into CBRN training is an ongoing challenge for first responders. And especially so when it comes to the practical, hands-on use of highly specialist equipment such as radiation detectors.

When firefighter Ross Smallcombe was asked to provide the duty crew at the Ryde Fire Station on the Isle of Wight with a short training session on the use of their service's Mirion Rados RDS 200 Universal Survey Meter, he quickly realised that there were some significant gaps in the crew's practical hands-on experience of the device. 

"The biggest problem I had was being able to carry out realistic first responder training that gave a real understanding and hands-on approach to radiation," says Smallcombe.

"After visiting the Argon website, I contacted them to enquire about the use of a Rados RDS200 simulatorWithin an hour I was having a conversation with Steven Pike (Managing Director) who was willing to assist me with my plans and loan me a kit which included simulation emitters (both directional and spherical), simulation powders and liquids, the GMP-11-SIM simulation beta contamination probe and EPD-MK2-SIM (personal dosimeters).


10 chemical warfare agent training scenarios

Written by Steven Pike on 06 Jul 2017

Modern chemical warfare agent (CWA) training for unconventional threats requires a variety of scenarios that can relate to different incident types; both indoor and outdoor, meaning CBRNe operatives need to be prepared for any situation.

This poses a challenge for instructors delivering training; the need for it be more realistic and more flexible is paramount.

Simulation training offers a real, workable solution that allows students to experience the characteristics of live agent training in real-world scenarios, in a completely controlled setting. Sources can be easily hidden in any location, and emission levels can be varied to adapt the exercises.

The opportunities for training scenarios are endless. In this post we highlight ten examples you could use in your CWA training usin CBRN detector simulators and electronic simulation sources.


7 reasons to use simulators for CBRN training

Written by Steven Pike on 14 Jun 2017

Historically, CBRN training has been confined to specialist, controlled areas, usually on a military base and the training scenarios employed involved the use of simulant agents that were dispensed manually, in restricted quantities. These factors often limited the range and effectiveness of training CBRN instructors were able to deliver.

With terrorist-related incidents being the primary threat for which today's CBRN schools train, the need for more flexible, real-world training scenarios has never been greater.

Simulated detector technology offers an opportunity for students to experience all the characteristics of live agent training in a completely controlled setting. There are also many advantages for the trainer, including full control over the scenario and the ability to carry out the exercises in almost any environment, inside or outside and in real-world settings.

In this post we explore seven of the real benefits you and your students can obtain from using simulated detectors in your CBRN training