Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory



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Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has developed training materials for emergency managers and response personnel that describe the possible effects of radiological and nuclear events and the actions that the public and response community could take to save and sustain life.

CFD model simulation

Models help inform response planners of the potential impacts of hazardous material releases.

Web Based Training

Modeling Concepts

This narrated, self-running course is designed to teach basic modeling concepts for radiological and nuclear release scenarios. By the end of the course, students will understand basic functions of atmospheric plume dispersion and dose models, model benefits and limitations, use of models during an emergency, and how to use modeling products to guide emergency planning and response. Total course time is 2 hours and 5 minutes.

    Course Introduction (2 min)

    An overview of the course objectives and outline.
  1. Modeling Concepts (14 min)

    Learn about the basic elements of atmospheric dispersion models, including model input parameters and assumptions, release characteristics, meteorological conditions, and atmospheric stability.
  2. Types of Atmospheric Dispersion Models (14 min)

    Learn about five types of atmospheric dispersion models: the Gaussian plume model, the Gaussian puff model, the disk-tosser fallout model, the Lagrangian particle model, and the computational fluid dynamics model.
  3. Dose Calculation Models (26 min)

    Learn about radiation dose concepts, dose pathways, and model parameters affecting dose calculations.
  4. Model Verification, Validation, and Accuracy (7 min)

    Learn about verification and validation of dispersion models and causes of uncertainty in dispersion and dose models.
  5. Protective Action Guides and Response Levels (11 min)

    Learn about protective action guides used in the US and how response levels are derived to convert them to values that can be directly measured in an incident.
  6. Use of Measurements with Models (8 min)

    Walk through an example of using field measurements to adjust model input parameters in the model-measurement cycle.
  7. Model Products (27 min)

    Learn about the different types of products that may be developed in a response.
  8. Comparison of Different Models (16 min)

    Review two examples where different models are used for the same scenario, and learn about the causes of differences in the products developed.

Public Health Impacts of Radiological and Nuclear Terrorism

Narrated self-running presentations using audio captured at the California Department of Public Health, Radiologic Health Branch Symposium conducted on January 9, 2015.


Video Training

RDD Response Guidance Videos

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory created a simulation that demonstrates the DHS RDD Response Guidance missions and tactics. Videos demonstrating these lifesaving tactics can be found on the Department of homeland Security, Science and Technology YouTube channel.

Saving Lives After a Nuclear Detonation

This PrepTalk provides information on protective actions for a nuclear detonation and the many resources and tools for emergency managers that support planning, public education, and crisis communications. Emergency managers should use the video and these discussion materials to develop strategies for response plans, immediate public alerts and warnings, and emergency responder safety.


Reducing Consequences of Nuclear Detonation

This presentation was delivered in January of 2010 at the Radiation Preparedness and Clinical Applications Seminar sponsored by Los Angeles County Radiation Management.


Radiological Terrorism Response Presentations

Creating City Specific RDD Response Presentations (LLNL-PRES-749285)

This PowerPoint file is both a tutorial and a template for creating city specific Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD) response briefings. It includes instructions and demonstrational videos of how to use atmospheric dispersion modeling tools, like Hot Spot, GoogleEarth, and FEMA’s RadResponder to create realistic, immersive training and exercises that are specific to the community that the training is being conducted in. It is based on the concepts and tactics in the DHS Science-based 2017 Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD) Response Guidance: Planning for the First 100 Minutes and includes the animations created by LLNL that are currently available via the DHS S&T YouTube channel. There is an example scenario involving an RDD in San Francisco and videos demonstrating how to present the material at the end of each module. It was created so Radiological Operational Support Specialists (ROSS) could develop community specific RDD response scenarios to help inform responders and planners on the best way to save lives and recovery from an RDD or radiological “dirty bomb.”

Due to the extensive use of videos, this presentation is large (~ 2GB) and has been broken down into the following modules:

  • Background Module A: Radiological Terrorism Threat

    The possibility of radiological terrorism continues to the be a concern and it is worthwhile to review recent case studies and the common use of radioactive material in our society. Although new examples regularly emerge, several recent case studies are presented that were current as of 2017.
  • Background Module B: The Science Behind the Guidance

    The background science behind the guidance was built on over 1,000 explosive tests with real and surrogate radioactive material. This information was used to help build a scientifically sound simulation at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) used to create animations to demonstrate the various tactics and mission of RDD response. A background module on the underlying science can help provide confidence in the recommendations being discussed and help the student understand the possible response variations that might occur.
  • Mod 1 - City Specific RDD Modeling Map and Graphics

    This module provides instruction on how to download and use tools like RadResponder, GoogleEarth Pro, and HotSpot ~ Health Physics Codes for the PC. It includes demonstrations on how to generate images and animations that can be used to create presentations that demonstrate RDD impacts on community specific locations of interest.
  • Mod 2 - City Specific RDD RECOGNIZE Mission

    These slides use default graphics for a San Francisco RDD event and describe Tactic 1, Initial Response & On-scene Recognition, and Tactic 2, Confirm the Presence of Radiation, which are part of the RECOGNIZE mission to determine if radiation is present at the scene of an explosion.
  • Mod 3 - City Specific RDD INFORM Mission

    The INFORM Mission informs responders and the public of the initial default Hot Zone and Shelter-in-Place Zone and notifies local, state and federal authorities to request assistance. The mission includes Tactic 3, Give Report from the Scene, Tactic 4, Issue Protective Actions to the Public & Determine Wind Direction, and Tactic 5, Notify Partners and Request Assistance. The module also includes tutorial slides and graphics to create RadResponder style measurement maps.
  • Mod 4 - City Specific RDD INITIATE Mission

    The INITIATE mission describes a multiagency response, with agencies conducting lifesaving rescue operations and securing and managing the scene without waiting for radiation monitoring to begin. It consists of Tactic 6, Initiate Lifesaving Rescue Operations, and Tactic 7, Secure and Manage the Scene. This module also contains an animation discussing response zones, responder dose guidelines, and how the simulation used in this module tracks responder exposure.
  • Mod 5 - City Specific RDD MEASURE and MAP Mission

    The MEASURE AND MAP mission demonstrates how to safely measure radiation levels at the detonation site, in the near field and downwind to initially characterize and visualize the extent of the radiological contamination. It consists of Tactic 8, Measure and Map Radiation Levels, which is broken down into 2 phases. Phase 1 is for the detonation site and transect, and phase 2 is for near field, 10-point monitoring, and outlying areas.
  • Mod 6 - City Specific RDD EVACUATE and MONITOR Mission

    This mission describes how to EVACUATE AND MONITOR populations from impacted areas and begin to identify locations to open community reception centers for screening and population monitoring. It consists of Tactic 9, Commence Phased Evacuations, and Tactic 10, Monitor and Decontaminate. The module briefly discusses the appendices in the DHS RDD Planning Guidance and provides a slide to help put the impacts into perspective.

Other Radiological Response Presentations

These presentations provide useful information for response planning. If you are a radiation safety professional and would like to obtain the PowerPoint version of the presentation, please contact the author, Brooke Buddemeier, at brooke2@llnl.gov.

  • Radiological Emergencies; Emergency Responder Protocols (LLNL-PRES-491531)

    [PDF 8 MB] [Notes: 7 MB] Discussion of key response issues associated with radiological emergencies.
  • Information and References for Hospital Emergency Response Planners (LLNL-PRES-404725)

    [PDF 1.3 MB] A great introduction for hospital emergency response planning.
  • Radiological Emergency Response Planning and Exercise (LLNL-PRES-404937)

    [PDF 4.7 MB] How to use HotSpot to help with State and Local response planning and exercises.
  • Understanding Radiation and Its Effects (UCRL-PRES-149818)

    [PDF 1.3 MB] A great introduction for hospital emergency response planning
  • Radiological Emergency Response Planning and Exercise (LLNL-PRES-404937)

    [PDF 4.7 MB] How to use HotSpot to help with State and Local response planning and exercises.
  • Understanding Radiation and Its Effects (UCRL-PRES-149818)

    [PDF 3.7 MB] [PDF with narration] A brief overview of radiation, contamination, decay, half-life, dose, and dose effects.
  • Radioactive Material Production, Transportation, Use, and Possible Misuse (UCRL-PRES-149904)

    [PDF with Notes] Overview of radioactive material production, transportation, and use in our society. Special attention is given to high activity sources and how they might be misused. A discussion of “dirty bombs” and general effects is also included.

Nuclear Detonation Response Presentations

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has developed training materials that are easily understood by response personnel that describe the possible effects from a nuclear detonation in a major metropolitan area and the actions that the public and responder community could take to save and sustain life.

The result is a suite of multimedia-rich training modules with an instructor and student guide that uses non-scientific language to explain the dynamic nature of such an event. PDF versions of the files, and in some cases the instructor and student guides, are available below. The PowerPoint presentations are available to federal, state, and local emergency response trainers by contacting Brooke Buddemeier at brooke2@llnl.gov.

  • Working with the Media to Save Lives in the Event of a Nuclear Detonation (LLNL-PRES-758510)

    In support of the United States federal government, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has performed consequence modeling to support risk assessments and community preparedness activities. Despite the broad availability of response guidance, there continues to be a lack of public awareness on appropriate lifesaving actions. Journalist can play a critical role in helping communicate key information through general interest articles and access to the right information in a crisis. Supporting the media by providing good science, graphics, and expert interviews can improve the possibility of an informed public.

  • Medical Needs in the Aftermath of Nuclear Terrorism (LLNL-PRES-677346)

    In support of the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has undertaken detailed consequence modeling of a nuclear detonation in several modern U.S. cities that obtain insight into the nature and distribution of injuries and support community preparedness activities. Atmospheric dispersion and prompt effects models are important tools for planning an initial response to a nuclear detonation; however many current predictive models make some overly simplified assumptions. The analysis used for this study provided more realistic methods of estimating exposure by accounting for the presence of different building types to provide radiation exposure ranges, numbers of potential casualties, and combined injury distributions.

  • Duck and Cover 2.0: Nuclear Detonation Response Planning (LLNL-PRES-748840)

    In support of the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the National Nuclear Security Administration, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has provided detailed consequence modeling in support community preparedness activities. Detailed effects for several California cities are available to emergency response personal and managers, including block by block detailed analysis of observable effects, potential casualties, infrastructure impacts, and response issues. Additionally, visualization of potential impacts provides first person points of view to help understand the dynamic nature of the event as it changes in both time and space. New communication strategies, planning resources, and response tools are in development and available to help response planners and emergency managers.

  • Nuclear Detonation Response Planning: Yield and HOB Issues (LLNL-PRES-740002)

    In support of the Department of Homeland Security, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has provided detailed consequence modeling to support federal risk assessments and community preparedness activities. In the event of a low-yield nuclear detonation in an urban area, one of most important response tasks will be to minimize the exposure to fallout radiation. Detailed analysis of radionuclide composition and atmospheric dispersion of fallout have recently helped inform federal and national guidance on appropriate response actions. Fallout exposure represents the greatest preventable injury after a nuclear detonation and an understanding of the dynamic spatial and temporal nature of the event, along with the protective value of shelter-in-place options, can result in a significant reduction of casualties.


Nuclear Terrorism Response—National Capital Region (NCR)

Overview of Improvised Nuclear Device (IND) Impacts to the NCR is an extended presentation on response planning for a low-yield nuclear detonation in the NCR. This presentation is at the awareness level. Separate links below may be used in a modular training effort that includes more detailed instructor guides. [Instructor Guide] [Student Guide]

  • Modeling Improvised Nuclear Device (IND) Impacts to Tier I UASI Cities: NCR Version

    [230 MB Slideshow, Powerpoint 2007 or later required] This version runs automatically with an audio recorded at the Howard County Community Emergency Response Network Conference on “Surviving a Nuclear Event”.
  • Overview of Department of Homeland Security Nuclear Detonation Modeling and Response Planning

    [Instructor Guide] [Student Guide] Orients emergency response personnel on current improvised nuclear detonation response planning activities within the federal government.
  • Prompt Effects Summary

    [Instructor Guide] [Student Guide] This module is intended to give an overview of the prompt effects that follow detonation of an IND. This includes injury, structural damage, and prompt radiation and thermal exposure.
  • Fallout Effects

    [Instructor Guide] [Student Guide] This module gives an introduction to the basic principles of fallout, how it changes in time and space, as well as the planning guidance zones and definitions.
  • Shelter and Evacuation Strategies

    [Instructor Guide] [Student Guide] This module explains the life-saving strategies that can work after detonation on an IND. This includes sheltering-in-place, and the basics of informed evacuation.
  • Response Strategies

    [Instructor Guide] [Student Guide] This module is intended to give an overview of the prompt effects that follow detonation of an IND. This includes injury, structural damage and prompt radiation and thermal exposure.

Nuclear Terrorism Response—Los Angeles

Overview of Improvised Nuclear Device (IND) Impacts to Los Angeles is an extended presentation on response planning for a low-yield nuclear detonation in the greater Los Angeles urban area. This presentation is at the awareness level. Separate links below may be used in a modular training effort that includes more detailed instructor guides.

Note: This material was developed in 2009; graphics and information have not been updated for the current year.

  • Overview of Department of Homeland Security Nuclear Detonation Modeling and Response Planning

    [Instructor Guide] [Student Guide] Orients emergency response personnel on current improvised nuclear detonation response planning activities within the federal government.
  • Prompt Effects Summary (Los Angeles)

    [Instructor Guide] [Student Guide] This module is intended to give an overview of the prompt effects that follow detonation of an IND. This includes injury, structural damage and prompt radiation and thermal exposure.
  • Fallout Effects (Los Angeles)

    [Instructor Guide] [Student Guide] This module gives an introduction to the basic principles of fallout, how it changes in time and space, as well as the planning guidance zones and definitions.
  • Shelter/Evacuation (Los Angeles)

    [Instructor Guide] [Student Guide] This module explains the life-saving strategies that can work after detonation on an IND. This includes sheltering-in-place, and the basics of informed evacuation.
  • Response Strategies (Los Angeles)

    [Instructor Guide] [Student Guide] This module is intended to give an overview of the prompt effects that follow detonation of an IND. This includes injury, structural damage and prompt radiation and thermal exposure.