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CTOS is the nation’s premier radiological/nuclear weapons of mass destruction (WMD) counterterrorism training center. The U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) CTOS–Center for Radiological/Nuclear Training at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) has trained America’s First Responders since 1998.


CTOS represents the NNSA’s Nevada Field Office (NFO) as a charter member of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC). The mission of the NDPC is to enhance the preparedness of federal, state, local, and tribal emergency responders/first receivers and teams, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector, to reduce the nation’s vulnerability to incidents involving weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and all-hazard high consequence events by providing technical assistance and developing, delivering, and assessing plans, training, and exercises. The NDPC operates under the oversight of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency/National Preparedness Directorate (DHS/FEMA/NPD) National Training and Education Division (NTED). For further information on NDPC and its partners click here.


Unique Training Venue

To conduct the most realistic performance-based radiological/nuclear WMD counterterrorism training possible, CTOS conducts resident training courses at the NNSS. The NNSS is a massive outdoor laboratory, national experimental center, and training facility located 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. Originally established for testing nuclear weapons, from 1951 to 1992, 1,021 nuclear detonations and numerous radiological dispersal tests have been executed at the NNSS. Since the 1950s, the NNSS has been conducting training and exercises using radioactive materials and contaminated environments. The rich nuclear testing history of the NNSS offers dynamic training opportunities today. The 1,375 square miles of secluded and secure land at the NNSS provide a safe environment for training in realistic WMD scenarios.


In 1955, the Federal Civil Defense Administration constructed a small town at the T-1 Site. The town included houses and bungalows built to various building codes, electric power systems, a radio broadcasting station, weigh station, propane tank farm, vehicles, fire equipment, food supplies, and other items used for the test. In a nationally televised event on May 5, 1955, this community was devastated by a 29-kiloton nuclear detonation in order to evaluate the effects of a nuclear explosion on civilian communities and test the emergency response capabilities of Civil Defense organizations. Four nuclear devices were detonated at this location between 1952 and 1957, and the small amount of nuclear fallout remaining from these detonations is now below the surface of the soil, providing a realistic and safe training area. Adding to the realism, radioactive debris created during the nuclear detonations, such as twisted steel fragments and sand melted into radioactive glass (trinity glass or trinitite), is still scattered throughout the T-1 Site. Industrial, sealed radioactive sources are also placed in exercise areas to create elevated radiation levels and the realistic training venues needed for training objectives.


 

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the CTOS training program converted the T-1 Site at NNSS into a training center demonstrating an American community attacked by terrorists using an IND or multiple RDDs.


Completed in 2004, the T-1 Site is once again being used to prepare the country to respond to and mitigate the effects of a nuclear attack. The Radiological/Nuclear WMD Incident Exercise Site (T-1 Site) at the covers approximately 40 acres allowing over 100 emergency responders to participate simultaneously.

 

Training History

Specialized radiological/nuclear WMD response training at the NNSS was first offered in 1998 to state and local jurisdiction emergency responders from across the U.S., and included Responder Operations, Incident Command Operations, and WMD Terrorism Training. The NNSS soon became a popular training center for emergency responders due to its unique training venues, security, and WMD expertise.


Prior to 9/11, state and local jurisdictions had minimal radiological or nuclear detection capability. Not until after the catastrophic events of 9/11 were the threats of Radiological Dispersal Devices (RDDs) or Improvised Nuclear Devices (INDs) taken as seriously as they are today. Instructor-led courses developed after 9/11 have been customized to address and enhance first responder ability to respond effectively to the detonation of an RDD or IND. CTOS training expanded in 2002 with awareness level courses and added a force-multiplying train-the-trainer program that allowed CTOS to reach more first responders.


Over the years, the CTOS contribution to national preparedness has been substantial, training responders from all 50 states and each U.S. territory. Since September 11, 2001, more than 160,000 first responders have been trained, through direct delivery of CTOS curriculum by DHS-certified instructors and indirect delivery of course materials through Train-the-Trainer programs and web-based training. Today, the various CTOS programs meet the training and education needs of more than 15,000 emergency responders in state, local, and tribal governments each year, protecting the nation from a potential radiological or nuclear WMD.


Instructor Staff

The 70 member CTOS instructor staff consists of police officers, firefighters, emergency managers, radiological and nuclear subject matter experts, emergency medical services, Civil Support Team (CST) members, retired and active-duty responders, and personnel with extensive military experience. CTOS relies on the expertise of this multitalented group to assist in the development and delivery of courses that meet the needs of their communities.

 

All CTOS courses are subject to a DHS certification process that utilizes third-party subject matter experts to validate the content of the course materials and ensure that the lessons are meeting industry standards and regulations. In addition to all courses undergoing certification, all CTOS instructors must complete the DHS and NDPC Instructor Certification Programs. Instructors all possess both DHS and NDPC Instructor Certifications, which provides CTOS with a consistent approach to ensuring only highly skilled instructors with both field and classroom experience deliver DHS-sponsored training.




 



 

Target Audience

  • State and Local First Responders
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Emergency Management Agency
  • Fire Service
  • Government Administrative
  • Hazardous Materials Personnel
  • Law Enforcement
  • Healthcare
  • Public Health
  • Public Safety Communications
  • Public Works
  • Other skilled support personnel
    who provide immediate
    support services during prevention, response, and recovery operations


Training is provided at no cost to eligible participants

 

U.S. Department of Homeland Security/FEMA/NPD funding is used for: developing and delivering courses, transportation, food, and housing for students attending residence courses.

 

In recent years, over 13,000 First Responders trained annually.


All CTOS courses are subject to a DHS certification process that utilizes third-party subject matter experts to validate the content of the course materials and ensure that the lessons are meeting industry standards and regulations. In addition to all courses undergoing certification, all CTOS instructors must complete the DHS and NDPC Instructor Certification Programs. Instructors all possess both DHS and NDPC Instructor Certifications, which provides CTOS with a consistent approach to ensuring only highly skilled instructors with both field and classroom experience deliver DHS-sponsored training.