CBRN / HazMat Training Blog

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 vital role of personal dosimeters in radiation safety training

Written by Steven Pike on 15 Nov 2017

A key objective of radiation safety training emergency preparedness is the ability for military personnel and first responders to be able to identify, evaluate and react to a wide spectrum of potentially hazardous events.For those tasked with handling the unique challenges of radiological incidents, the importance of maintaining personal safety is paramount.

Radiation is an invisible force that is constantly around us. It takes the form of natural radiation (such as radioactive radon gases, terrestrial gamma radiation or cosmic radiation) and is also a by-product of man-made radioactive materials (as a result of medical radiotherapy procedures, occupational radiation exposure or radioactive discharges) some of which can be immensely powerful.


The value of applied learning for radiation safety training

Written by Steven Pike on 24 Oct 2017


Creating realistic training scenarios that replicate the invisible threat of radiation is a vital and ongoing challenge for CBRNe and HazMat instructors worldwide, whether that training is provided within the context of military training exercises or as a teaching aid for first responders.

Most radiation detection instruments are in themselves fairly straight-forward to use. But ensuring that trainees understand readings, changes in units of measurement, shielding, survey, contamination avoidance and decontamination procedures can be difficult.

The skill lies in the CBRNe or HazMat instructor’s ability to create applied, hands-on training scenarios that enable participants to experience all the features of a radiation incident in as life-like a context as possible.


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.


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).


How to improve radiation safety in nuclear power facilities

Written by Steven Pike on 02 May 2017

Improving radiation safety at nuclear power facilities remains a significant, ongoing concern for regulators, energy providers and the general public. 

A report by radiation safety experts revealed that staff at a major UK nuclear facility did “not have the level if capability required to respond to nuclear emergencies effectively”, a situation that “could have led to delays in responding to a nuclear emergency and a prolonged release of radioactive material off-site”.

The report indicates that is necessary to enhance and improve training in radiological instrument use within the civil nuclear sector. To help achieve this, simulation systems are available that enable many of the obligatory training requirements to be carried out in highly realistic scenarios without the use of real radioactive sources and their associated expense and regulatory limitations.


Nuclear disasters of the past should inform decisions of the future

Written by Argon Electronics on 31 Jul 2014

The names Chernobyl and Fukushima will forever be synonymous with nuclear disasters, much like Hiroshima and Nagasaki are with nuclear warfare.

Their sad tales will be recounted through history and the actions, reactions and lessons from each site debated for years to come. Equally, decisions regarding nuclear safety in the future should bear these events in mind.