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Course Description

PER-246 - Primary Screener Backpack Basic Course (PSBB)

 Course Description    Last updated 9/13/13 


The Primary Screener Backpack Basic Course (PS/BB), enables law 
enforcement, fire service, hazardous material technicians, and public works disciplines, assigned to radiation detection primary screener duties, to detect radiation, verify radiation alarms, localize the source of radiation, and measure detected radioactive material with increased range and sensitivity using the backpack along with the standard personal radiation detector (PRD) systems. The officer will be trained to employ the backpack to detect radiation in or on people, vehicles, packages, and/or facilities. A variety of sealed radioactive sources are used in PS/BB learner activities and practical exercises. These sources are intended to simulate the types of radioactive material that the primary screener may encounter in the public domain.  

Upon completion of the PS/BB, trained personnel will be able to perform the duties of a primary screener using a backpack radiation detection system as a function of the radiation detection mission. The primary screener will be trained to employ the backpack to detect, verify, locate, measure, and assess radiation levels of an unknown radiological source. The course addresses the following topics: 
Primary screener duties and activities
Backpack characteristics, components, and pre-operations check
Backpack operation and the Alarm Response Guide
Employment of the backpack for primary screening activities on/in people, packages, vehicles, and facilities

Course Objectives 
Upon completing this course, participants will be able to:  
• IDENTIFY the properties of radiological/nuclear material.
DESCRIBE how the properties of gamma and neutron radiation relate to the detection of illicit radioactive material.
EXPLAIN the differences between exposure to radiation and contamination from radioactive material.
IDENTIFY the relative strength and hazard level of radiation to the primary screener.
DESCRIBE how the principles of time, distance, and shielding apply to your safety and radiological/nuclear detection.
DESCRIBE the characteristics of the backpack.
DEMONSTRATE how to prepare the backpack for employment.
DEMONSTRATE how to conduct a preoperations check.
PERFORM a systems operation check.
IDENTIFY and DISCUSS the LED lights on the backpack indicator unit.
DISCUSS the background learning feature of the backpack.
OPERATE the personal digital assistant (PDA) (if applicable) to display the appropriate data.
DESCRIBE pairing the PDA (if applicable) and backpack.
STATE the startup process for a data query using the PDA.
EXPLAIN how to navigate to the various displays in the PDA and how they are used to analyze the data received by the backpack.
STATE how to save the data from the backpack using the PDA.
DISCUSS the advantages/disadvantages of using the PDA with the backpack.
EMPLOY the Alarm Response Guide:
-- DETECT elevated radiation levels
-- VERIFY the radiation alarm
-- LOCATE the radioactive material
-- MEASURE the radiation levels
-- ASSESS the radiation alarm/situation
IDENTIFY the operational considerations needed to employ the backpack in the field.
DEMONSTRATE how to prepare the backpack for employment for overt and low profile operations.
RECEIVE, RESPOND TO, and ASSESS radiation alarms using instrument responses, visual and audio indicators, and interview results.
SECURE the scene and ISOLATE the radiological material in a way that ensures the health and safety of the officers and the public.  


Target Audience/Discipline 


Law Enforcement, Fire Service, Hazardous Materials (HazMat), Public Works, and Personnel assigned duties employing a backpack detection system 




It is the responsibility of the jurisdiction to select course participants.  

A certificate will be issued upon successful completion of the course, granting 0.7 continuing education units (CEUs) through the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). A letter verifying CEUs can be provided upon request by contacting CTOS at  

Regional, state, or local training facilities  

Radioactive Sources 
This is a “live agent” course using radioactive materials. It is designed and monitored so participants receive only minor radiation doses (lower than a chest X-ray or typical round-trip airline flight across the U.S.).  

This course complies with ANSI N42.37-2006, “American National Standard for Training Requirements for Homeland Security Purposes Using Radiation Detector Instrumentation for Interdiction and Prevention.”  

Enrollment Information  
In order to attend a training class delivered by one of the FEMA/NPD training partners, a request must be submitted to the designated U.S. Department of Homeland Security training point of contact. For a Training Coordinator in your area, please call 877.963.2867 or email



Prerequisites & Other Information:
PER-243 Personal Radiation Detector

No tuition is charged.
All training and course materials are provided at no cost to eligible participants. Funding provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency/National Preparedness Directorate (FEMA/NPD)U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Course Specifics

Hours: 7.00
Provider: Counterterrorism Operations Support (CTOS)
Disciplines: Fire Service
Law Enforcement
Public Works

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