While we’re going about our regular work and life routines today, first responders across the nation will break from their normal activities to participate in a September 8 training exercise to hone their skills for responding to a radiation emergency.
The Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL) is cosponsoring the drill with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Office, which manages the RadResponder Network. It is just one of the many ways S&T is refining its ability to respond to natural or human-caused disasters during September, which uncoincidentally is National Preparedness Month.
Today’s training drill is an extension of the long-established cooperation between NUSTL and FEMA’s CBRN Office to develop best practices, operational tools, and emergency response guidance for first responders from state, local, tribal and territorial jurisdictions. RadResponder is a multi-function online network for emergency managers, first responders and radiation subject matter experts responsible for collecting radiological survey data and responding to emergencies. RadResponder has 10,971 emergency responder representatives from 1,907 organizations nationally and is the national standard and whole-community solution for managing radiological data.
S&T’s NUSTL is a testing-and-evaluation facility focused on supporting the capabilities of state, local, tribal and territorial first responders. The detonation of a radiological dispersal device (or, “dirty bomb”), a nuclear detonation or even an accidental release of radioactive material could have severe consequences for individuals and families, the economy and national security. NUSTL’s Radiological/Nuclear Response and Recovery Research & Development program provides responders and emergency planners with knowledge products, software-based tools, and technical guidance to enhance their planning for an emergency response to radiological or nuclear emergencies.
First responders joining online today will participate in a 90-minute training drill to test a new feature that can simulate an accidental radiological release from a nuclear power plant, followed by a one-hour after-action discussion. During the drill, the responders will test drive two newly introduced RadResponder mobile app capabilities: a custom radiological simulation feature and the new CBRNResponder mobile app.
The new radiological simulation capability—whose development was funded by S&T—is a training-and-exercise tool that allows first responders to use moveable, scalable and rotatable radiological incident simulation files for release scenarios involving radiological dispersal devices, improvised nuclear devices, and nuclear power plants. It enables first responders to create radiological simulations from the RadResponder website using an underlying source file or a preset template. First responders can view the simulated readings for alpha, beta and gamma radiation from the CBRNResponder mobile app.
This new simulation functionality was developed by RadResponder with NUSTL direction to provide realistic training, drills, and exercises and build on the app’s recognized role in the emergency response community as the national standard for radiological data management and visualization for first responders at all levels.
The CBRNResponder mobile app integrates the hazard-specific capabilities from RadResponder and ChemResponder into a single app. The updated version introduces a new feature that allows users to push “packages” of files from different document libraries to the new CBRNResponder mobile app. This feature enables organization administrators, event managers, and module managers to control which files users can access on their mobile app.
I leave you with this: As you go about your daily tasks today, draw comfort knowing that NUSTL is preparing today and every day by delivering the training and tools first responders need to manage many types of disasters, including a radiological emergency.