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Homeland Security News 

Company Offers Chemical, Radiological Detection Training System 


By Valerie Insinna 

The U.S. military has expressed interest in acquiring a training system that simulates chemical and radiological releases such as those created by “dirty bombs” and the Fukushima nuclear meltdown.

The system, PlumeSIM, can be used in both virtual and live exercises.

“We are engaged in discussions with different parties in the U.S. with regard to PlumeSIM for both nuclear response training and also for military CWA [chemical warfare agent] training,” said Steven Pike, the managing director for Argon Electronics, who noted Argon is speaking to both military and civilian homeland security customers.

The company manufactures handheld simulators that replicate radiological or chemical agent detectors, such as the M4 and M4E1 joint chemical agent detectors and AN/PDR-77 radiation detectors currently used by the military. “PlumeSIM was designed to allow you to pull all of these instruments together for larger exercises,” Pike said.

The system allows an instructor to designate releases of chemical and radiological activity on digital maps, which can be custom-made by the instructor. The maps are then integrated with Argon’s handheld simulators, so that when a student enters a “hot spot,” the device reacts as if an agent were present.

In tabletop mode, a student moves around a map using a personal computer and video game controller. The system can also be used in field exercises, with the student equipped with detection simulators and a GPS–enabled device that tracks his movements.

“We can simulate individual and multiple releases, contamination of individuals and also contamination of areas,” Pike said. “The simulators will respond accordingly, depending upon the simulated threat. The instructor is able to monitor the movement of the students and the indications on their simulators in real time on the computer system.”

The students’ movements are logged by the program, which also records when a trainee makes mistakes.

“It can be replayed in an after-action review so that the instructor can see how effectively the student surveyed the area, and how quickly the student determined what the threat was in that particular area,” Pike said.

Argon is developing a respirator canister simulator that can be integrated with PlumeSIM, he added. “[It] will have some very advanced features that will determine whether or not individuals are on the correct respirator filter for the threat that’s present, and whether or not the canister has expired.”

The United Kingdom’s ministry of defense is already using PlumeSIM, and Argon recently received a contract for the product from the Canadian armed forces.

Photo Credit: Argon Electronics

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