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
Why choose simulators for CBRN training?
1. No requirement for live sources - Unlike a number of IMS (ion-mobility spectometry) detectors, chemical simulators don't incorporate an ionizing radiation source. Equipment containing Live sources are also commonly subject to strict regulatory controls such as movement and storage certification and regular wipe testing. So simulated devices offer trainers many advantages in terms of saved time, reduced cost and minimal administration.
2. No costly consumables - Most traditional detectors require consumable items such as sieve packs (Smiths Detection LCD series detector including JCAD, NEXUS and GID-M, Bruker RAID) or hydrogen cylinders (Proengin AP2C, AP4C), all of which can add significantly to the cost of training over time. The simulated detector simply replicates these consumables so students can practice the replacement procedure as many times as needed to ensure good practice is understood.
3. Reduced wear and tear - Choosing to use real detectors during student training exercises can inevitably run the risk of damage or breakages of the devices. And the cost implications and time needed for repair of scientific instrumentation can be significant. Because the technology employed within a simulator is purely electronic, it requires no specialist repair facilities and the repair cost is much lower in comparison to a real detector.
4. Safeguards against misuse - There are occasions, inadvertantly or otherwise, when students can be careless with detectors in training situations (using them to monitor their cigarettes is just one common example of student "curiousity.") In a worst case scenario, the detector can then saturate and go into “wait” mode, eating into your valuable teaching time. A well designed simulator instantly recognises student misuse, will monitor the actions and can provide a report which you may choose to share with your students as a teaching exercise. Most importantly, you'll be able to reset the simulator straight away so there's no interruption to the training exercise.
5. No need for regular maintenance - Many detectors require ongoing preventative maintenance, and in some cases regular calibration, to ensure the item is always working correctly. If you're extremely unlucky, you may even be faced with a detector that is beyond repair. Chemical simulator technology enables trainers to simulate the effects of incorrect consumable replacement and report the action to the instructor without harm to the training instrument.
7. Cost savings - The true cost of using a real detector should always take into account not just the initial cost of the device but all other ongoing expenses such as land remediation and regulatory compliance. When you consider that the typical lifetime of the deployment of a detector is approximately ten years, the financial outlay over that period is dramatically higher than the initial capital cost of a simulator spread over the same period of time.
With the increasing demand for more flexible, real-life CBRN training scenarios, the role of chemical simulator in live agent training offers multiple advantages over more traditional methods. For the student there is the reassurance of being able to practice, repeat and perfect their skills in an environement that offers all the characteristics and pressures of a real-world scenario. And for the trainer there is even greater range in the timeliness, efficiency and effectiveness of the CBRN training they deliver.