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Virtual Emergency Response Experience Offered at the IAEA General Conference

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Participant experiences virtual reality tool simulating a radiological emergency during the IAEA's 62nd General Conference. (Photo: Y. Yustantiana/IAEA)

The IAEA Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC) introduced virtual reality tools into its annual training programme last year. Since then, about 100 people have used virtual reality to train for emergencies.

This year, on the first day of the IAEA General Conference, delegates from all over the world experienced a radiological emergency in virtual reality. Meeting participants participated in virtual responses using radiation detectors and other emergency response equipment to render a scene safe under the guidance of IEC staff.

Users walked through a virtual emergency scene where they monitored radiation and took emergency response steps to secure the site while also verifying public safety.

Machiel Kleemans, the International Coordinator for Radiation Protection from the Netherlands’ Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection used a virtual reality headset and hand-held controllers to handle a scenario involving a crashed van carrying radioactive material. “Observing and experiencing the emergency in virtual reality helped me understand the challenges faced by a first responder to an emergency in an innovative way,” he said. “I really felt like I experienced the stressful nature of an emergency response environment.”

IAEA Incident and Emergency Assessment Officer Joseph Chaput, who developed the scenarios and guided delegates through the simulation, said: “Feedback from first responders and technical specialists taking part in courses that include virtual reality indicate that they feel better equipped to handle real-life emergencies. In this way, the system enables us to better support Member States in their work to ensure they have sufficient emergency preparedness and response capacity.” 

IAEA Incident and Emergency Assessment Officer Joseph Chaput, who developed the radiological emergency scenarios, guides participant through the simulation. (Photo: Y. Yustantiana/IAEA)

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