Home Podcasts THMG068 – 6 Tips to Become a Better Radiation Technician

THMG068 – 6 Tips to Become a Better Radiation Technician


In this episode, Mike and Bob offer six tips to help you become a better radiation technician.

Complete Show Notes

4:25 Tip 1: Understand the Difference Between the Source and the Radiation

  • The source is the radioactive piece where the radiation comes from
  • Radiation is the energy (particle or wave) that shoots out and does damage
  • We can’t operate unless we understand the difference – you’re not putting SCBA on to protect yourself from inhaling radiation – you do it to keep radioactive sources out of your lungs
  • It’s also important to understand the difference during reach back communication – everyone needs to be speaking the same language
  • Most radioactive objects give off some type of gamma rays, which is why we always search for them

9:45 Tip 2: Perform a Full Search Before Stopping

  • Don’t stop searching the first time the meter spikes
  • Mark hot spots as you go along – this helps you triangulate the source’s location

11:25 Tip 3: Reach Back is VERY Important

  • This has become more and more relevant as terrorist incidents continue to increase in frequency
  • Our instruments can easily be tricked, and medical isotopes can be used to cover something more harmful
  • Although reach back is very easy conceptually, it can be a little frustrating in the field – the devil is in the details
  • Background should be similar, not just in terms of geographic location, but actual physical surroundings – you should also take note of surrounding landscape features
  • Measure out the distance you get your spectrum from – they’ll want to know, and you don’t want to have to do them over again
  • You’ll need a background reading, a calibration, and an unknown reading – this data goes to the authorities and helps them determine whether the spectrum is a threat and needs to go to the National Laboratory
  • What they’re looking for:
    • The spectrum
    • For your distances to be proper
    • All of the information they need has to be filled in
    • The machine you used
  • Always think about:
    • Who’s looking at it?
    • Why are they looking at it?
    • What are they looking for?
    • How is reach back performed?
  • Bob and Mike use the FLIR identiFINDER and the AMETEK ORTEC

26:10 Tip 4: The Inverse-Square Law Isn’t Just for Keeping a Safe Distance

  • Use it to figure out if the package shielding is wrong or use it as a distance gauge
  • The inverse square rule can also be used to get a close estimate of the location of the source

29:55 Tip 5: Use Shielding to Pinpoint a Source

  • Some radioactive waves get stuck behind walls or other obstacles (shielding), while other waves don’t – the thicker the shield, the better we’re protected
  • Perform rotational shielding to pinpoint the location
  • Use multiple rotational pinpoints in different locations to get the exact location – when two lines intersect, you’ve found the source of the radiation

32:10 Tip 6: Mark Your Hot Spots

  • Use cones in large areas
  • Use masking or chemical tape when searching vehicles

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