National Nuclear Security Administration

NNSA’s radiological response teams put to the test

July 11, 2016

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Radiological Assistance Program (RAP) teams from around the country gathered in Albuquerque last month as part of RAP Training for Emergency Response (RAPTER). This training consists of an intensive series of drills to provide recertification for members of Department of Energy (DOE)/National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) nuclear incident response teams.

Trainees were deployed to a field exercise with personal protective equipment and instruments, working through a scenario based on a real world situation in Albuquerque to which the team responded in 2010.

For the June course, more than 30 NNSA and FBI radiological assistance response trainees worked with dozens of instructors, controllers, and evaluators throughout the week.

The course is held four times per year. RAP team members each must attend once every three years to stay current on their training. The course is five days long, including briefings and equipment hands-on training and evaluation, as well as a two-day field exercise.

"RAPTER ensures that team members are ready and capable of effectively responding to radiological events and emergencies," said NNSA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Counterterrorism Dave Bowman. "Our RAP teams deploy multiple times per year in support of State, local, Federal, or tribal organizations in response to nuclear/radiological incidents."

RAP is the nation's premier first-response resource in assessing a radiological emergency and advising decision-makers on further steps to take to evaluate and minimize the hazards of a radiological incident. There are nine RAP regions around the country. Federal, state and local organizations including NNSA, the FBI, New Mexico State Police and other city, county and state assets participate in the Albuquerque RAPTER training.

Established in the late 1950s, RAP provides radiological emergency response assistance to the states, tribal entities, and federal agencies. The teams provide a 24/7 response capability for any incident or accident involving radioactive material. RAP teams consist of federal and contract employees who regularly work with radioactive material at DOE and NNSA facilities.

The RAPTER program was created in 1994 to provide additional technical training needed for RAP Teams. Learn more about radiological assistance programs and training.