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CBRN / HazMat Training Blog

How simulators aid emergency response radiation safety training

Written by Steven Pike on 18 Dec 2018

In an ideal world, an emergency response team would know exactly what kind of radiological hazard they were attending before they arrived on the scene of an incident. This might be via a resource such as a central database that lists the addresses of properties that are known to contain specific sources of ionising radiation.

In other cases, such as a road traffic accident for example, that risk might not become apparent until responders reach the incident and are confronted with a clear visual warning in the form of a trefoil.

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What is the best HazMat training method to keep first responders safe

Written by Steven Pike on 26 Nov 2018

While regulations exist to guide HazMat training requirements for first responders, the reality is that many personnel still don't consider themselves to be adequately skilled in the use of their equipment.

Sometimes it's because there simply isn't enough time to carry out regular and structured training programmes. Sometimes this lack of preparedness comes as the result of budget cuts where training is one of the first things to go.

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How CBRN training with simulators reduces reliance on PPE

Written by Steven Pike on 12 Sep 2018

With the increasing prevalence of the use of chemical warfare agents (CWAs) in conflicts, the need for hands-on training in the use of detector equipment is even more crucial in ensuring that military personnel are able to respond quickly, safely and effectively to live incidents.

An ideal way to achieve operational readiness is to provide realistic training exercises that use detector simulators and software to demonstrate the nature, challenges and unpredictability of the threats and the environments that soldiers may be exposed to.

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What to look for in a simulator detector system for CBRN training

Written by Steven Pike on 04 Sep 2018

The threat of an accidental or deliberate release of a hazardous material (HazMat) or Chemical Warfare Agent (CWA) is increasingly being recognized as an acute global challenge.

In the event of an incident, swift detection and response is crucial. And the accuracy and quality of the information obtained - and how that information is communicated up the chain of command - is of paramount importance.

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9 scenarios for realistic chemical warfare agent training

Written by Steven Pike on 28 Jun 2018

A primary consideration when encountering a Chemical Warfare Agent (CWA) or other hazardous material is to be able to recognize, identify and contain the threat.

CWA training scenarios can provide an invaluable opportunity to prepare HazMat and CBRNe crews for the realities that they are likely to encounter in real-life incidents.

In this blog post we explore 9 simple CWA training scenarios that incorporate the use of intelligent electronic simulator detectors to create effective, safe and highly realistic training experiences.

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New technology on track to vitalize confined space HazMat training

Written by Steven Pike on 25 Jun 2018

Teams operating in confined spaces within hazardous industrial buildings or process facilities understand all too well the importance of adhering to strict health and safety regulations.

The hazards that confined spaces present can be physical or atmospheric in nature - from the risks of asphyxiation or entrapment to exposure to extremes of temperature or the release of toxic chemicals.

According to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, on average two people die in the US every day as the result of incidents that take place within confined spaces.

In many cases too, it is not just the victim who is at risk, but the rescuer or first responder who may be unaware of the HazMat threat they are about to encounter.

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How to make radiation safety training easier and more effective

Written by Steven Pike on 23 May 2018

A key objective for HazMat and CBRNe instructors is to be able to devise realistic radiation safety training opportunities that replicate the challenges and conditions of live incidents.

There are a variety of key skills that you may well want to be able to observe and assess in your radiation safety training exercises, including:

  • Their understanding of critical search, reconnaissance, survey and location skills
  • Their comprehension of inverse square law
  • Their knowledge of isodoserate mapping, shielding and safe demarcation
  • Their understanding of contamination, cross-contamination and decontamination

Hands-on training exercises can offer an invaluable opportunity to test your students' ability to read, interpret and accurately convey the information from their survey meters.

And wherever possible, these training exercises should enable you to mimic the complex physical and psychological challenges that your trainees are likely to face in real-life radiation events.

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How to conduct safe CWA training for incidents in civilian areas

Written by Steven Pike on 03 May 2018

One of the primary goals of chemical warfare agent (CWA) training is the ability to be able to ensure operational readiness in the event of a terrorist related threat or deliberate act of aggression.

The challenge though is to provide realistic, hands-on training opportunities that offer the highest degree of authenticity for the trainees while at the same time preventing any risk to the general public, to the environment or to the participants themselves.

So what options exist that enable instructors to create realistic CWA training scenarios which safely and accurately reflect the conditions of incidents in civilian locations?

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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 (HazMat) 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.

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How to ensure authenticity in HazMat safety training for industry

Written by Steven Pike on 17 Nov 2017

Although not a common occurrence, when a large-scale industrial incident does occur, there is the potential to cause significant damage and disruption to personnel, the general public and the facility.

The storage, transport and manufacture of chemicals brings with it an inherent element of risk. Chemicals can be corrosive or toxic or react explosively, with the potential for considerable impact on human life and the environment, and with many thousands of chemicals in commercial use worldwide, there is the ever present risk of accidental release.

Chemical spills and accidents can happen, on a small and large scale, anywhere chemicals are found - from factories, to oil rigs to tanker trucks, shipping vessels and railway transport - and can occur with surprising frequency.

Just a few recent examples of smaller industrial-related HazMat incidents in the US in 2017 (all of which were successfully contained) have included a mercury spill at the Cincinnati VA Medical Centre due to the movement of an old pipe during construction work; an ammonia leak at a Butterball plant in Jonesboro Arkansas after a power outage; a polyethylene holding tank catching fire at a chemical plant in Gales Ferry, Connecticut; and a chemical scare at Flint Hills Resources in Illinois.

There are clearly defined procedures and working practices in place within industrial facilities to help assess and manage risk, and individual sectors of industry within the US and UK are also subject to their own specific regulations.

The fact remains though that the hazardous nature of the processes involved in the handling or manufacture of chemicals, together with the ever-present potential for human error means it is essential that emergency response teams are equipped with the appropriate knowledge and skills to handle chemical incidents.

The ongoing challenge for HazMat instructors working within an industrial setting (or indeed any environment where there is a HazMat risk) is to devise training scenarios that provide an authentic live-incident experience for their trainees.

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