Bryan Sommers, Argon Electronics’ North American Business Development Manager, first met the HazMat Guys in early 2021. He was invited onto their podcast to discuss HazMat training and to listen to their feedback on the demonstration he provided for two of Argon’s latest radiation simulation technologies—the RadEye Sim and the RadSIM GS4 gamma radiation source.
If you haven’t yet had the chance to listen to the podcast, it is available in full here.
Who are the HazMat Guys?
The HazMat guys are Bobby Salvesen and Mike Monaco, who have both been involved in firefighting for around 25 years. Bobby is currently Deputy Chief instructor for the Nassau County Fire Service Academy, and Mike is a Master Instructor with the International Association of Fire Fighters.
Their mission is to create a space to provide information and share ideas about Hazardous Materials response through their podcast, forums, and articles. The resources are meant for colleagues, instructors, and students.
Moreover, in 2020, they launched the HazMat Guys e-University. This online learning platform contains courses from leading HazMat professionals on subjects from “Decontamination” to “From meth labs to chemical suicide”.
Argon Electronics was delighted to have had the opportunity to share our latest simulation radiation training devices with The HazMat Guys, and the pair also seemed to value the experience. Mike said he was “blown away by the product I got to demo...it was so realistic”.
The HazMat guys’ difficulties with conventional training
When describing the challenges presented in his field, Mike says that “Training is one of the hardest paradigms to break in the world of HazMat. There has, for the most part, only been two paths to walk down—lecturing or hands-on training.”
He continues that, “Lecturers are great when it comes to disseminating information, but they lack the ability to truly test a student’s knowledge in different or abstract situations. This renders classroom training all but unless since many of the more complicated HazMat incidents require our knowledge to be used to think outside the box.”
Mike also sees a problem for hands-on training as “Students can be taught to use equipment and understand its function, but the challenge for an instructor is how to create a situation that can better mimic the stress and pressure of being on the scene.”
The HazMat guys take Argon’s SIMs to an escape room
Given the HazMat guys’ perceived difficulties with conventional training, Argon was delighted to hear that Bobby and Mike had been so impressed with the simulation devices that they wanted to test them in a U.S. escape room.
They designed an escape room to solve the issues that traditional training presents and integrated Argon Electronics’ simulation equipment to provide an even higher level of detail.
The HazMat guys are primarily instructors, so their main focus is always centred around how the scenarios they create and the equipment they use will help students learn. Ultimately, they are concerned with how students’ reactions can be improved in preparation for a real-life emergency event.
And they sounded impressed with Argon’s equipment. Mike said that “Argon’s meters almost perfectly mimic actual functions, and we can challenge a student’s knowledge, technique, teamwork, critical thinking, and understanding in a way never before seen. We can simultaneously challenge a student without sacrificing realism, situational pressures, or proper functionality.”
Argon’s simulators used in the escape room
RadEye GF-10 SIM
Key features include:
- Interface components that are identical to those of the real detector (including display, indicators, switch panel, vibrator, and sounder)
- Response speed and characteristics that behave exactly as the real detector does when approaching or moving away from the simulation source
- Simulated sensitivity that enables the simulator to detect the RadSIM GS4 simulation source at a free space distance of approximately 200 feet
- Powerful proprietary signal processing which ensures simulated readings are repeatable each time the trainee revists the same scenario location
- Simulation of the effects of user body shielding so survey teams can confidently and accurately interpret their detector readings and alarms
- Inverse square law response that is within real detector tolerance
- Selectable units of measurement (Sv/hr, Rem, CPS)
The RadSIM GS4 Simulator provides a simulated gamma radiation source that is incredibly believable.
Instructors have the freedom to create a diverse array of search exercises while remaining free from all of the usual regulatory and administrative restrictions of working with live sources.
Key features of the RadSIM GS4 include:
- The ability to create “live source” radiological survey exercises where survey teams can experience realistic dose rate and dose readings, inverse square law response and the shielding effects of different materials
- Isotropic emission which enables the source to be detected at a distance of up to 200 feet when using a standard sensitivity simulation detector - or up to 300 feet free space if using a high sensitivity simulation detector
- No preventative maintenance, calibration, or consumables (aside from batteries), which keeps the whole life cost of ownership to a minimum
Getting in touch with Argon Electronics
If there is anything more you would like to find out about integrating simulation-based technologies into your own HazMat training programme, please feel free to contact us. We would be delighted to advise you.