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CBRN / HazMat Training Blog

How to make radiation safety training easier and more effective

Written by Steven Pike on 23-May-2018 14:00:00

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 14:00:00

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 14:00:00

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 10:01:00

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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Marriage of SAAB Training Systems Gamer and Argon’s CBRN PlumeSIM

Written by Steven Pike on 17-Sep-2017 14:47:28

SAAB Training Systems Gamer and Argon’s CBRN PlumeSIM v2

Live training systems such as SAAB’s Gamer have been in use by many organisations worldwide for a number of years to deliver effective training in a Live environment. Support for CBRN, however has been minimal, and in general has not extended beyond monitoring if the respirator has been donned.

Argon Electronics and SAAB Training Systems have cooperated to address this limitation by implementing an integration between Argons’ PlumeSIM Live CBRN training system and SAABs’ Gamer system.

This effort has resulted in the ability to generate CBRN threats within PlumeSIM that are reflected within the Gamer EXCON in real time. PlumeSIM also provided integration with Argons’ extensive range of Radiological and Chemical Warfare training simulators and their associated After Action Review capability.

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How to create realistic first responder radiation training scenarios

Written by Steven Pike on 25-Jul-2017 17:09:47

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).

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CBRNe training - how 3 types compare

Written by Steven Pike on 19-May-2017 12:02:44

Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNe) training provides individuals with the technical knowledge and practical expertise to detect and avoid chemical threats, helping them to protect themselves and carry out decontamination.

In addition, CBRNe training can act as a deterrent – an adversary may be less inclined to use chemical or radiological warfare agents if they know their opponents are well-prepared to deal with and mitigate the consequences.

Delivering CBRNe training has become more challenging. Training scenarios must be able to realistically replicate the ability to detect and monitor a near-invisible or invisible hazard as it moves through the air or contaminates equipment, infrastructure or terrain.

Good training increases protection of organisations and personnel, builds confidence, and improves decision-making and communication skills, and currently comes in three main forms:

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How to improve radiation safety in nuclear power facilities

Written by Steven Pike on 02-May-2017 09:08:00

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.

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The role of CBRN simulation training in industrial accidents

Written by Steven Pike on 25-Apr-2017 08:48:00

Major industrial accidents are, fortunately, rare. However, when an incident does occur the fallout can be enormous. 

In 2005, the Buncefield explosion in the UK injured 43 people, registered 2.4 on the Richter scale, and emitted a cloud of soot and other contaminants into the atmosphere, which stretched all the way to France and Spain. The economic impact was estimated to be around £1 billion, comprising compensation for loss, costs to the aviation sector, the emergency response and the costs of the investigations (HSE).

When the worst does happen, it is vital that both staff and emergency responders are fully equipped and trained to deal with the consequences. Here, we explore the role of CBRN simulation training in achieving this outcome.

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CBRN training: traditional methods vs. simulation

Written by Steven Pike on 21-Apr-2017 09:46:46

The threat of CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) incidents is a very real one. Whether malicious and intentional - such as in the context of warfare or a terrorist attack - or accidental - such as a spill or leakage - the consequences of CBRN incidents can be incredibly destructive. 

Therefore, it is vital that those individuals who would be on the front line if the worst were to happen (namely, the military and emergency services staff) are well-equipped to respond to and mitigate the fallout. 

Traditionally, CBRN training has been carried out using live agents or simulant agents – and this continues to be the case. More recently, technology has enabled training to be undertaken using simulation. Both approaches have their advantages and drawbacks.

Here, we will explore how they measure up against one another.

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