CBRN / HazMat Training Blog

Training first responders for the challenges of nerve agent attacks

Written by Steven Pike on 15 Mar 2018

As the recent Chemical Warfare Agent (CWA) attack in Salisbury, United Kingdom, has demonstrated all too clearly, the deliberate use of toxic substances as a weapon of terror, presents a risk not only to the intended victim or victims but to the public at large and to the specially trained hazmat safety teams charged with responding to the incident.

The challenge for first responders in such scenarios is to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of a deliberate act of chemical warfare, to neutralize and dispose of the threat and to make the area safe - a process that requires balancing with the need to preserve evidence.


4 essential features of electronic simulators for radiation training

Written by Steven Pike on 01 Mar 2018

Any exposure to ionizing radiation brings with it a degree of risk.

So for those tasked with emergency response, it’s crucial that they are able to handle the unique challenges of radiation incidents with confidence, a mindfulness of their personal safety and a thorough working knowledge of their detector equipment.


Balancing realism and reality in radiation safety training

Written by Steven Pike on 22 Feb 2018

The creation of realistic training scenarios is vital in ensuring that military crews and first response teams are prepared and equipped to handle actual detectors in real-life radiation incidents and that industrial operatives are practiced in their respective monitoring activities.

Radiation training exercises that are rooted in applied learning techniques can be an invaluable tool in enabling trainees to read and understand changes in units of measurement, to relay their findings up the chain of command and, above all, to stay safe.


The role of personal protective equipment in realistic hazmat training

Written by Steven Pike on 19 Feb 2018

In recent blog posts we’ve discussed the significance of providing realistic training opportunities for military crews and first responders who are tasked with emergency hazmat response.

Alongside the importance for hands-on training using true-to-life simulator detectors, it is also vital for trainees to experience the wearing of their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in hazmat training scenarios if the full physiological effect of the scenario is to be experienced.

Personal protective equipment provides first responders with protection from potentially serious, and in some cases life-threatening, exposure to harmful chemical, biological or radiological hazards.


An overview of safety certification for army hazmat training

Written by Steven Pike on 13 Feb 2018

As part of its national defense mission, the US military makes use of a wide range of hazardous substances which can include petroleum products, chemicals, explosives and solvents - all of which can pose a physical risk if handled improperly.

In this blog post we explore the process by which substances are classified as hazardous, the role of army hazmat training in preparing personnel for the safe transport of hazmat materials and the ways in which hands-on scenarios can enhance theoretical understanding of hazmat safety.


Why realistic scenarios are vital for effective hazmat safety training

Written by Steven Pike on 05 Feb 2018

From transport companies to military bases, industrial units and medical facilities, the handling of hazardous materials requires strict regulatory compliance to ensure there is no risk to public safety.

Crucially too, effective response to any hazardous substance release relies on the expertise and training of highly trained hazmat response teams, whether they be first responders or military crews.

Materials that are classed as hazardous are wide-ranging - including in-organic chemicals (such as chlorine, ammonia and hydrogen fluoride;) toxic gases that can be inhaled (such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen, argon, oxygen or hydrogen;) explosives; flammable liquids and solids; organic peroxides; toxic, infectious and corrosive substances and radioactive materials.


IRR 2017 and the use of simulators for radiation safety training

Written by Steven Pike on 26 Jan 2018

On 1 January 2018, the UK’s Ionizing Radiations Regulations (IRR) 1999 were replaced by the IRR 2017. The regulations establish a clear framework to protect trainees, employees and other personnel from unnecessary exposure to high levels of radiation whether as a result of their duties or during the carrying out of training exercises. The aim is to keep radiation exposure as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP) to ensure that individual dose limits are not exceeded.

To this end, electronic radiation simulators can offer significant benefits for radiation safety training, as they provide trainees with the opportunity for first-hand experience in handling detectors in live-incident scenarios, but without any risk of exposure to potentially high levels of radioactivity.

In this blog post we explore the careful compromise that is often required in balancing the goals of radiation safety training with the realities of creating the most life-like scenarios.


What essential equipment is required for radiation safety training?

Written by Steven Pike on 25 Jan 2018

Radiation safety training has a crucial role to play in ensuring effective response to any radiological incident, whether it be large or small, accidental or deliberate.

When dealing with live radiation incidents, CBRNe personnel and first responders rely on two essential items of equipment to enable them to monitor radiation dose and their individual dose rate - a survey meter and a personal dosimeter.

While these pieces of instrumentation are both fairly straightforward to use, the challenge for CBRNe instructors is to be able to provide trainees with the chance to test their practical knowledge of their detectors in the context of realistic training exercises.

It’s also vital that trainees understand the full significance of any detector readings which may initiate decisions, and that they are comfortable with changes of units in measurement, shielding, survey, contamination avoidance and decontamination procedures.

Unlike other types of safety training scenarios where simulants or live sources can be used to simulate a specific threat, there is no alternative to radiation that can replicate a reading on an actual unmodified radiation detector. So what options exist that can enable users to experience every operational feature of an actual detector in as realistic a setting as possible?

In this blog post we explore the unique features of survey meters and personal dosimeters and offer suggestions for suitable replacements which can be used to create an authentic trainee experience when undertaking radiation safety training exercises.


The importance of radiation safety- what CBRNe crews need to know

Written by Steven Pike on 10 Jan 2018

Ionizing radiation is an invisible force that is constantly around us, whether it be in the form of man-made radioactive materials such as medical radiotherapy or nuclear fuels, or in harmless naturally occurring radioactive sources (NORMs) that can be present in such things as foodstuffs, in the ground beneath our feet and within our own bodies.

In the US and UK, the amount of radiation that civilians are exposed to in their daily life generally falls well within safe parameters for annual individual radiation exposure (approximately 0.62 rem, or 620 millirem annually, in the US and approximately 270 millirem per year in the UK.)

But for military personnel or emergency teams, who may be called upon to respond to a range of unpredictable and potentially hazardous radiological incidents, the possibility to be exposed to high levels of ionizing radiation presents a much more serious threat.

The potential threats of radiation exposure can be many and varied - from occupational exposure in the course of civilian radiation operations (such as radiopharmaceutical incidents, hospital irradiator incident or industrial radiography) through to accidental release, illegal disposal or large-scale radiological events.

Any type of exposure to radioactivity carries with it some degree of risk. But exactly how that exposure affects an individual will depend on a variety of factors, including the energy of the radiation emissions, the activity (or disintegrations per second) of the radioactivity, how quickly the radioactivity dissipates in, and from, the body, and where in the body the radioactivity is concentrated.

In this blog post we explore three elements of radiation safety - the units of measurements used to measure radiation exposure, the effects of radioactivity on the body, and the three key factors that will determine an individual’s exposure to ionising radiation.


The environmental impact of CBRNe & HazMat training scenarios

Written by Steven Pike on 04 Jan 2018

The ability to be able to respond to any emergency CBRNe or HazMat situation, whether it be an accidental event or a deliberate act of aggression, is a vital necessity for military personnel and first response teams.

A civilian HazMat incident that occurs during the transport of hazardous materials by road, air, rail or ship is just one example of a scenario where specialist HazMat safety expertise will be required.

While hazardous materials regulations are in place to avoid and mitigate the impact of accidental spillage, any incident that involves a hazardous substance has the potential to cause environmental harm and will require a fast and emphatic response from trained emergency crews.

Likewise too, military teams need to be trained and equipped to handle any CBRNe incident such as the release, deliberate or otherwise, of a hazardous material or chemical warfare agent (CWA).

The US military for example uses a wide variety of materials to aid its national defense mission - from petroleum products and solvents to chemicals and explosives  - and all of which can pose a hazard if improperly handled.

It is essential that military personnel, both uniformed and civilian, are trained in the safe handling, storage, transport and disposal of hazardous materials and that they are instructed on the potential dangers that these hazardous substances can present both to individuals and the environment.