The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL) performs functional testing, evaluation and operational assessments on first responder technologies.
The Gross Decontamination Application Project is a joint
effort with the EPA to develop an app that will provide first
responders, both on- and offline, with reference information and
operational guidance on contamination containment, gross decontamination
and early phase waste management strategies that are critical in the
wake of a radiological incident.
On the heels of implementing the use of radiation detection equipment
during the visit of Pope Francis in New York City, NUSTL is continuing
its track record of cultivating key partnerships. One such example is
the recent work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The app is a web-based decision support tool that obtains existing
guidance from multiple sources (including the project’s international
partner, Public Health England) and delivers actionable guidance to a
user-specific gross decontamination scenario. The user is able to
personalize their own settings and task priorities.
The challenge with this project is identifying and integrating
the many interagency documents needed for guiding state and local
agencies through responding to a radiological hazard and the mitigation
EPA Health Physicist and U.S. Public Health Service Captain John
Cardarelli explained the background behind the project. “After we spoke
to first responders and health physicists over the last few years, we
learned that there are gaps in standardized gross decon guidance. With
this application, we are trying to do two things: fill those gaps using
existing information and then organize the information in a way that is
convenient and easy to understand for those who need it.”
The Radiological and Nuclear Response and Recovery Portfolio
(RNRR) and the EPA invited first responders from the local, state and
federal government to NUSTL’s office in Manhattan to test the app and
The RNRR development team also visited Charlotte, North Carolina
and Burlington, Vermont, to better understand the nature of using the
app in medium and small sized cities, respectively.
The groups utilized the app in two mock scenarios: one involved
responding to a suicide-bomber incident and the other depicted a
disaster at a nuclear power plant.
This project demonstrates how
interagency partnership and collaboration contributes to the
development of successful tools for first responders. The app is
scheduled to be publicly available in spring 2016.
For more information on the app or NUSTL, please contact email@example.com