Argon simulators bring realism to Bristol Police CBRN training

Argon simulators bring realism to Bristol Police CBRN training

Argon Electronics’ range of CBRN response training simulators has brought a degree of realism that has significantly enhanced training at an exercise staged for police in the South West of the United Kingdom.
The Argon equipment was loaned for the exercise by the Police National CBRN Centre at Ryton-on-Dunsmore in Warwickshire, which oversees the Police’s capacity and capability to deal with CBRN incidents, and has been highly praised by the police chiefs involved in the exercise as a means of improving the quality and value of training.
Paul Lacey, an officer from the Avon and Somerset Constabulary Police Headquarters with responsibility for planning the exercise, described the challenges of staging realistic training and how he discovered the Argon Electronics simulators.
As a representative of the South West, I went to a PNCBRNC meeting at Ryton-on-Dunsmore and had a presentation from Sergeant Jo Price, which introduced me to Argon and simulation. That was when I saw first-hand how the operational flexibility of equipment from Argon Electronics enhances the quality CBRN training exercises.

“The alternatives are using live simulants – deep heats and so on – but you have to be so close to these to get a reading on a detector that the exercise becomes unrealistic. Whereas with the Argon equipment you can simulate a plume that’s much further away from the trainee, which is how it would be in a real incident.

“You can simulate some forms of contamination with special liquids but these simulated substances don’t lend themselves to repeated training, as they cause lasting contamination. A better way to simulate the threat is to use electronic detector simulators that look, feel and function exactly like the real detectors but respond to safe electronic sources.

“With electronic simulation equipment the trainees can realistically carry out their roles without risk of harm or damage to themselves, other participants, their equipment or the environment. Having seen the presentation, I asked Jo if we could use the simulators during our next training exercise.”

Bristol City Football Ground

The Avon and Somerset police used the simulators at a training exercise at the Bristol City football ground, the premise of which was that the police were present to provide security and safety at a half marathon charity event in support of military charities, starting and finishing at Bristol City Football Club.
The inventory comprised a variety of CBRN training simulators, including, Argon’s PlumeSIM™ system, which enables a single instructor to configure simulated chemical and radiological releases across a wide area, and then to monitor and manage multiple trainees in real time from a central location.
In the context of the exercise, intelligence had suggested that some chemical weapons had been smuggled out from Syria for possible terrorist use in the UK. Police were also informed of a known active Syrian community in Bristol with both pro and anti-government factions represented and told that tensions in the area had been apparent for some weeks.
Paul Lacey explained why this advance intelligence improved the quality of the training. “On the day itself, you need to get in early and plan. If the trainees turn up and have to wait around while you spend the first two hours planning they will switch off.
“Setting up before the simulated incident doesn’t make it any less realistic as long as there’s a reason for it. True, there will be many incidents in real life where planning isn’t possible but there are also many incidents where intelligence tells you to expect an incident.
“The premise of a recent pre-planned exercise we carried out at Bristol City Football Ground was that we had received advance intelligence that something was possibly going to happen, hence the reason we were set up.”
Realism was introduced at every opportunity. For example, the release of agents took place while the commanders were still delivering their briefings, at which point two smoke machines went off and a hundred people started screaming.
“To the trainees listening to the briefing who may have been thinking, ‘It’s only an exercise, they’ll start it in a minute,’ the sudden sound of a hundred people screaming and the sight of smoke billowing out of the stadium soon woke them up,” said Paul Lacey.

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