In accordance with the approved 2013 Program of Work (POW) the JCBRN Defence COE in conjunction with the United States Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) conducted the pilot program for the “International Radiological Assistance Program Training for Emergency Response (I-RAPTER), Basic Course from 13-16 May 2013 at the COE in Vyskov, Czech Republic.  This 3 and a half day course was also organized in cooperation with the Czech Republic’s NBC Defence Institute of the University of Defence. 

      The primary aim of this course was to provide guidance during on how to conduct operations where a radiation hazard might be involved.  The course consisted of a variety of instructional and theoretical training combined with a robust hand-on portion utilizing a variety of radiation detection devices.  After only the minimum number of hours of practical training the students familiarized themselves not only with instruments and devices used for measuring radioactive energy but also with procedures and principles for determining how radiological sources and their emissions occur in man-made and natural environments. 

     The practical training was divided on two parts. The instructors split the class participants in to three monitoring teams.  The first monitoring team moved to the Radiological Laboratory of the NBC Defence Institute where students measured differing ranges of radioactive emissions from a variety of known sources.  After training on known radioactive sources, students received a task to search and determine type of radioactive emissions present in the vicinity of the Radiological laboratories.

      In the meantime the second and third monitoring teams conducted radiological reconnaissance within the barracks compound under a DoE instructor’s supervision. The students successfully discovered the position of an x-ray device in local military hospital and during patrol searching they discovered the storage of various radioactive sources as well.  For mobile detection the students utilized the Spectral Advanced Radiological Computer System (SPARC) mounted in two vans.  The SPARCS is a versatile multi-platform radiation detection system designed to be used for both ground and aerial detection.

    All theoretical and practical training was conducted by the 8 instructors from the Department of Energy (DoE) of the United States of America, who have countless years of practical experience with radiation protection programs.  Many of the instructors have more than 17 years of experience in this specialized field.

     11 students from three countries (CZE, ITA and ROU) participated in the course.  They came from both the military and civilian domains and each had varying degrees of previous experience dealing with radioactive hazards.  Based on the student inputs to the comment forms distributed for the course, all the participants stated that the course has a great value for the student’s future career deployment. The next course is tentatively scheduled during the period 10-15 May 2014. This course offers twenty free slots for students, who want to broaden their knowledge and acquire quality experience from real world experts who routinely deal with the detection of radioactive materials on a global scale.

Author: WO Pavel David

Photos: Mr. Hana Jurcova and instructors

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