There are a lot of radioactive isotopes out in the world. You need to know what you are facing.
No one wants to cause a full-scale alert over a truck of bananas or an old lady that has just come from the hospital.
Radioactive substances are used in medical devices and treatment, industrial tools used in the workplace and in products you have in the home. Some locations are also more naturally radioactive than others.
The D3S classifies the radioisotopes it finds into:
- Medical: isotopes used in medical treatment or medical machines.
- NORM (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material) is material which occurs naturally or created by activity such as burning coal, making and using fertilisers, oil and gas production or mining.
- Industrial: isotopes used in equipment or testing or some other industrial process. A common example is devices that use a radioactive isotope to test moisture levels or depth levels in building material.
- SNM classes (Special Nuclear Material): material that has direct use in a clandestine fissile explosive or for its use in the production of nuclear material for use in a fissile explosive.
Armed with this knowledge the first responder can act appropriately. In each, every case speed and accuracy of detection is important as is the ability to reach back to get more specialist help if needed.