The HazMat Guys

We had the chance to catch up with John, Hunter, and Matt from Spectral Labs. We talked about the future of hazmat training and the industry in general.

Complete Show Notes

00:55 Introduction to John, Hunter, Matt, and Rex from Spectral Labs

  • John runs the Training Technology Development department
  • Hunter is the Deputy Training Technology Manager and helps with RAILS and a few other projects
  • Matt is a software engineer and developed some of the programs we’ll discuss in this episode
  • Rex is the Chief Technology Officer and works to ensure all of the RAILS indications are really realistic

1:50 What is (Realistic, Adaptive, Interactive Learning System) RAILS?

  • Video game that teaches you how to use 4-gas meters, personal radiation detectors, and more – mostly equipment-based, but also ties in with other hazmat topics
  • Linked to underlying radiation physics and chemical dispersion models, which means it translates well to the real world
  • Lets you enter into some really dangerous environments that you can’t really simulate in real life – teaches you how to read your instrumentation when you’re in these situations
  • There’s also a quiz element to the game, so it’s meant to be a training tool before a video game
  • Full version runs on Windows platforms, and there’s a Mac version available as well – there are also mobile platforms for the radiation and nuclear modules

6:50 Devices Included with RAILS

  • RAILS currently includes over 30 training modules, and their goal is to keep expanding their library
  • Completely free to first responders
  • Radiation and nuclear devices:
    • RadEye
    • identiFINDER
    • Polimaster 1703GN
    • Radiagem
    • InSpector 1000
    • PackEye
  • Chemical devices:
    • MultiRAE-Hygiene
    • MultiRAE-Search
    • Thermo FirstDefender
    • M908
    • QRAE3
    • Draeger Tubes
  • Explosive trace detection:
    • Smiths SABRE 5000
    • FLIR Fido X3
    • Scintrex E3500
    • Mistral ExPen

11:40 RAILS Training

  • Pre-training: you can assign everyone a few modules to play beforehand – this ensures they’re prepared for class
  • You can also have breakout sessions from the classrooms – you’ll have a few hours of lecture and a few hours of running through modules
  • Breakout sessions can also be part of “just in time” trainings

14:10 Other Features of RAILS

  • RAILS is geared towards operations-level personnel, rather than hardcore hazmat technicians
  • It’s difficult to make RAILS relevant to everyone since there are so many different players involved in a variety of departments
  • You can upload your SOP (standard operating procedures) to the Learning Management System and embed messages in the load screen
  • Always choose the modules that are most relevant to your team and what they encounter on a daily basis
  • Instructors can set up learning paths in a matter of minutes if they know what they’re looking for

19:10 Grading in RAILS

  • You’re graded throughout in addition to the quizzes after each module
  • Instructor can set different grading standards and pass/fail numbers
  • You’ll earn a certificate when you complete a learning path – you can have your score printed on the certificate if you want to show off to your friends

21:50 RadMATE from Spectral Labs

  • RadMATE: nuclear reach-back app that pairs with a bunch of meters – makes it a lot easier to handle spectrums you take in the field

25:50 Contact Information and More

  • To get started with RAILS, email Spectral Labs
  • You’ll get your own link to the website, where you can download and install RAILS
  • Webinars are also available if you’d like to learn more about RAILS

Have a question? Send an email to or leave a message on our Haz Mat Guys comment hotline: 843-628-1484

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