National Nuclear Security Administration

Experts in radiological emergency response exercise technical readiness

April 6, 2018

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Radiological Assistance Program team members donned protective clothing and respirators in preparation for simulated entry into a contamination area.
Radiological Assistance Program team members donned protective clothing and respirators in preparation for simulated entry into a contamination area.
Radiological experts conduct radiation and contamination surveys to characterize the environment during RAPTER training in Nevada.
Radiological experts conduct radiation and contamination surveys to characterize the environment during RAPTER training in Nevada.

Police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians are often the first responders on-site when a crisis situation affects the public. NNSA’s Radiological Assistance Program (RAP) teams are the first nuclear or radiological experts to respond when necessary.

These elite crews serve as the Nation's premier resource in assessing a radiological emergency. Last month, team members from across the nation gathered for in-depth classroom and field training as part of the Radiological Assistance Program Training for Emergency Response (RAPTER) in Las Vegas.

“RAP team members are often the federal government's first presence with state and local authorities in response to a radiological emergency,” said Jay Tilden, NNSA’s Associate Administrator and Deputy Under Secretary for Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation. “RAPTER ensures the readiness and competence of our responding experts as they deploy into uncertain or unknown emergency environments.”

As part of the specialized technical and operational capabilities shared with NNSA’s partners, RAP teams conduct detection, identification, and analysis of radiological or nuclear materials. This science-based approach helps teams advise federal, state, and local public health and safety officials during the initial phases of the response effort.

RAP presents decision-makers with the data they need to understand and minimize hazards following a radiological or nuclear incident, helping to ensure public safety.

The teams consist of employees who regularly work with radioactive material at DOE and NNSA facilities. They provide an on-call response capability for any incident or accident involving radioactive material. The RAPTER certification program was created in 1994 to provide added technical sustainment training required for RAP to maintain mission readiness.

RAPTER coordinator Kent Gray, the federal team leader for RAP region 4, talks to participants at this month’s training in Las Vegas.
RAPTER coordinator Kent Gray, the federal team leader for RAP region 4, talks to participants at this month’s training in Las Vegas.