Many law enforcement products have been modified by customer suggestions in development or were created to meet a discovered customer demand. Mirion Technologies took that concept a step further, having police officers help design the company’s AccuRad personal radiation detector (PRD).
The company could have produced the device without any input from police. Mirion has decades of experience making radiation detection tools for industry, the military, and public safety. “We have world-class technology that we can miniaturize and let the cops get the benefit,” says Keith Spero, Mirion’s director of sales for Homeland Security and military.
But Mirion wanted to provide exactly the radiation detection tool that police need in the field. “We went out to the customers and the operations experts, and we gave them the tools and mock-ups to tell us exactly what they wanted in a device that would warn them about radiation hazards,” Spero says.
Spero says the customer workshops included input on the form factor, the layout of the buttons, how the device would be worn, and how it would be supported by a smartphone app. “We took all of this information and we made the device they asked for… durable, discreet and easy to use,” he says.
The AccuRad PRD is about the size of a pager, and it is easy to use. “You just start it, put it on your belt, and let it do its job so you can focus on law enforcement tasks,” he adds. The control buttons are large and spaced apart so that the users can operate the PRD with gloves and one-handed.. The durable construction was also requested by the customers who, in addition to a rugged device body, wanted an unbreakable clip large enough to securely fit a duty belt but easy to remove.
The AccuRad PRD is a discreet tool, which was another requirement from the officers participating in the workshop. Its radiation alert can be a silent vibration. Or if the wearer prefers, it can produce an audible alert and even a visual alert.
While other devices use abbreviations and symbols to communicate detected levels, Spero says the AccuRad PRD’s display spells out exactly what radiation level the system is detecting in microrem, millirem, and rem (measurements of radiation’s effects on the human body). This avoids confusion caused by “excessive alphabet soup,” he explains. In search mode, the AccuRad can be used to find the source of the radiation, even if it is a person who has had medical radiation treatments.
Applications for the AccuRad PRD, include detecting threats at public events, monitoring critical infrastructure such as airports and public buildings, and a number of other law enforcement tasks. Spero says terrorism and/or criminal activity are not the only reasons that law enforcement officers needs personal radiation detectors.
Radioactive materials are constantly being transported over the roads, highways, interstates, and railroads in the United States. When a truck crashes or a train derails, police are often first on the scene, long before any fire department HazMat teams. There are also concerns about accidental release of radioactive materials from industrial and nuclear power sites.
The AccuRad PRD has been designed to comply with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards. “It meets or exceeds ANSI standards, so first responders will be confident knowing this device works as it is designed to do,” Spero says.
User response to the AccuRad has been extremely positive, according to Spero. When Mirion showed the device to the customers who had given input on its design, they said, “’Wow! You guys listened.’ That was validation. It told us we could build something first responders wanted and not what they were told they needed.”
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