To date, CBRN training has not had much exposure to effective simulation systems, but this is beginning to change. This article highlights the most important developments in this field.

Prometech is a Dutch SME startup aimed at producing homeland security software. Its founders each have over 10 years experience in software development and are currently working on a homeland security software package that is focused on decision support for first responders. Prometech works on the REACT project that was initiated by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the municipality of The Hague, in which a CBRN occupied area can be mapped, and support for evacuation protocols and first responder deployments can be made.

The basic functionalities that are required to give a more realistic CBRN exercise have been integrated into the simulator and the first demonstrations of the CBRN simulator began last year. The idea of these demonstrations was be to give end-users the opportunity for them to give feedback and suggestions on how to improve the system. The aim is to produce a viable CBRN simulation system that will enhance the training of fire departments, environmental agencies and other Hazmat specialists.

Further down the line of synthetic CBRN training is the Saab Group which together with the Swedish Defense Research Agency (FOI) has developed a simulator based on realistic CBRN-dispersion data generated by the CBRN dispersion engine developed by Sweden’s FOI laboratory. It allows for real-time organised collection of large amounts of information from different sources, technical systems as well as personnel, to support After Action Reviews (AAR), evaluations and analysis.

These sources include Saab’s CBRN Automatic Warning and Reporting (AWR) system, a modular, stationary or soldier system, or combination of them both, that requires the ability to receive warning reports regarding the existence of dangerous substances in the area.

The AWR sensor nodes are designed to meet the Swedish Armed Forces technical requirements regarding environment and Electromagnetic compatibility/ High Power Microwave (EMC/HPM) protection.

Using a combination of serious gaming and constructive simulators the WISE training platform provides virtual and constructive training simulation with built-in connectivity. The FOI dispersal engine generates realistic CBRN-dispersion data to AWR/battle management systems and virtual simulators to be accessed on computer screens in headquarters, camps and vehicles as well as on hand-held laptops or tablets.

The virtual CBRN scenarios can call upon other Saab products including its CBRN Sampling Equipment that is used for tactical and forensic sampling and designed for sampling of chemical, biological and nuclear warfare agents, toxins, industrial chemicals and biological and radiological substances.

Argon Electronics has been commissioned to supply a whole range of CBRN training simulators for the UK Police National CBRN Centre. The contract is one of many recently secured by Argon, demonstrating that an increasing number of organisations are discovering how effectively its simulators can contribute towards CBRN training.

The equipment order comprises a variety of CBRN training simulators, including Argon’s PlumeSIM system, a CBRN/HazMat response training simulator, EPD-Mk2-SIM dosimeter simulators, and a number of Argon’s LCD3.2e-SIM simulators. Also included is the AP4C-SIM with its accessory the S4PE-SIM, the RDS-200-SIM and the ECAM-SIM.

The contract to supply a centre with the status of the Police National CBRN Centre (PNCBRNC) at Ryton-on-Dunsmore in Warwickshire that was established in September 2006 to oversee the Police’s capacity and capability to deal with CBRN incidents and so sets the standard for CBRN response in the United Kingdom.

“This is the venue where national policy is set and where the CBRN response trainers for local police forces are trained,” explained Steven Pike, Managing Director of Argon Electronics. “After carrying out a thorough evaluation of the Argon Electronics simulators, the PNCBRNC saw first-hand how the operational flexibility of equipment from Argon Electronics enhances CBRN training exercises and therefore the capability to counter CBRN incidents. As a result, the PNCBRNC contracted Argon to supply its state-of-the-art simulators, which will soon be used to ‘train the trainers’.”

Designed on a Windows platform, the PlumeSIM allows multiple trainees to be managed and monitored from a computer at a central location. The software enables users to plan exercises on a PC or laptop without system hardware, offering a portable simulation system with easy-to-use menus that can be swiftly set up and used to create diverse variety virtual emergency scenarios.

The simulator enables an instructor to plan a scenario that involves either single or multiple releases of hazardous materials and offers the potential to define a series of release characteristics, such as duration, persistence and deposition, for an extensive choice of substances. The instructor setting the training exercise can even define the environmental conditions that would affect the movement and/or state of the virtual plume in real time.

Trainees can interact with PlumeSIM in several different ways. In the Table Top Mode trainees are able to navigate a projected on-screen scenario using a standard game pad controller. All data is recorded and using the AAR Mode all player movement and simulator activity can be reviewed by instructors and trainees at debriefing, providing individual trainees with detailed feedback on their performance. During both the Planning and Review Modes, the simulator can also be run in fast forward or paused to evaluate the validity of the scenario design, and then optimise the replayed exercise appraisal within a compressed time period.