The monitoring of gamma radiation is crucial for preserving human life and maintaining environmental safety, whether it is in the context of military peacekeeping activities, border control, law enforcement, first response or as part of routine surveillance within medical or industrial facilities.
When we contemplate the possibility of responding to a serious incident involving ionizing radiation it can be hard not to summon up images of catastrophic events such as Fukushima or Chernobyl.
In reality however, emergencies that involve ionizing radiation can take a variety of forms that can vary widely in their severity.
When we think about all of the hazardous materials that a first responder might potentially expect to come into contact with, it is the things that can't be sensed that can often be the hardest to control.
And when an incident is unfolding inside a confined space, even the most subtle of changes in the atmosphere have the potential to be not just harmful but life threatening.
Specialist HazMat training exercises can provide vital learning opportunities for first responders by enabling them to put into practice the knowledge and skills they will rely on when tackling hazardous materials incidents.
When there is the chance to conduct these HazMat training scenarios in a real-life setting, instructors can also offer trainees the added advantage of being able to experience what would normally be a "staged" exercise in as realistic a context as possible.
The National Ambulance Service Command and Control Guidance, published in April 2019, brings together lessons learned from recent major incidents and event responses both from within the UK and around the world, as well as drawing on the experiences of its partners in the Police and Fire and Rescue Service.
One of the resounding messages of this document is the vital contribution that command decisions play in enhancing clinical outcomes, increasing survival rates and maintaining first responder safety.
For the last thirty plus years, the HazMat training community has looked to Level A personal protective equipment (PPE) as the best way to safeguard HazMat specialists and first responders when handling chemical incidents.
But is Level A protection always the best choice? And are there some situations where Level A might actually be causing more harm than it does good?
These were just a few of the questions that were raised in a recent podcast interview on the online HazMat forum The HazMat Guys, featuring personnel protection expert Jeff Stull from the 'Rethink Level A' campaign.
As HazMat and CBRNe incidents become larger in scale, more complex and more unpredictable, the ability for emergency services agencies to be able to work together has never been more crucial.
In the UK, reviews of response to major national incidents have confirmed the capabilities of emergency services when carrying out their individual roles.
But a whole new set of challenges can arise when these separate groups are called upon to demonstrate interoperability.
Being able to predict how civilian individuals will react within the first minutes, hours and days of a major nuclear attack could well provide a life-saving resource for government agencies and emergency first responders.
And it this specific goal that has served as the impetus for an innovative Homeland Defence and Security Information Analysis Centre (HDIAC) research project titled 'A Framework for Modelling Society Following a Nuclear WMD Event'.
The threat to public safety from the release of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive (CBRNe) materials is constantly evolving.
The effectiveness of response to any major CBRNe incident relies on cooperation between numerous government departments, agencies and public services - each of whom will be tasked with their own specific areas of responsibility in identifying the source and scope of the contamination and securing the area.
Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRNe) threats are constantly evolving and can present some significant challenges for those charged with security and first response.
The efficient, successful resolution of any incident relies on the capacity for emergency teams to quickly evaluate a scene - and to do so in the midst of what will often be a complex, demanding and hazardous environment.