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Your Environment. Your Health.

Current SBIR E-Learning Awards

The following descriptions of successful applications for current "SBIR E-Learning for HAZMAT and Emergency Response Requests for Applications" were provided by the applicants.

Advanced Technology for the Improvement of Modular Emergency Radiological Response Transportation Training

Application Number Principal Investigator Company
1 R43 ES028144-01 Shetty, Radhakishan JANUS Research Group, Inc.

JANUS Research Group proposes to develop a mixed reality technology solution that will provide individual and small group training that makes use of mobile platforms such as smartphones and tablets to support e-learning of health and safety issues related to hazardous radiological material for first responders. Our proposed approach leverages the capabilities of modern mobile devices along with indoor and outdoor mapping technologies to enable the creation of a platform that can provide contextually relevant information to learners during training exercises and incident response. By leveraging the Apple iOS, Google Android, and/or Microsoft Windows software/hardware platforms, Modular Emergency Response Radiological Transportation Training (MERRTT) can be improved by providing more in-depth practical exercises during training, facilitate refresher training, and provide efficient access to the most up-to-date information when responding to an incident. Additionally, the solution will facilitate the creation of dynamic and engaging hands-on practical exercises, leading to more compelling training environments. The ability to convincingly blend the virtual and physical worlds requires the software to have a precise understanding of spatial awareness and an ability to render complex imagery in real time. During Phase I, we will evaluate two advanced technologies, Bluetooth Beacons and Augmented Reality that meet the above criteria. These technologies will be evaluated for effectiveness, cost, schedule, and risks to training implementation, and we will demonstrate a prototype MERRTT training module and practical exercise. Application of selected technologies to the rest of the MERRTT modules and evaluation of other technologies will be pursued by a Phase II SBIR proposal.

HazPrep Worker Training - Community Risk Profile

Application Number Principal Investigator Company
1 R43 ES028145-01 Ryng, Henry inXsol LLC

A worker's personal hazard profile (PHP) is a function of hazards present and his/her exposure level to those hazards. Workers with an elevated level of risk are those who can be engaged in activities related to or working around hazardous materials, waste generation, removal, containment, transportation, and emergency response. inXsol believes two components are necessary to implement a sophisticated geopersonalized, role-based, all hazards training activity platform: PHP and cloud-based automated community profile algorithms. Our approach solves a problem for communities (knowledge about local risks) and a problem for worker safety (hazards workers or responders can prepare for). The proposal includes innovative use of big data algorithms for community profiles and fusion with PHP, allowing for targeted and personalized training into a platform we have named HazPrep. The research and development project proposed will improve worker health and safety by delivering personally localized risk awareness and mitigation training. The dynamically localized and innovative cloud-based active social components will both yield a deeper engagement with the content and foster creation of peer connections that may not be developed otherwise in advance of an incident. The resulting curated content enriches subsequent learner experiences.

Novel Augmented Reality Training System for HAZOPS Training

Application Number Principal Investigator Company
1 R43 ES028142-01 Bandera, Cesar Cell Podium

Cell Podium proposes to develop, in collaboration with the Rutgers School of Public Health (RSPH) Office of Public Health Practice (OPHP), an augmented reality training system for realistic hazardous operations training experiences. The system consists of physical hazard props (identified by Bluetooth beacons) and a location-aware mobile phone application that simulates a sensor used by emergency responders confronting potential hazardous gas leaks. The system will be developed through the novel integration of state-of-the-art low-cost technologies (smartphones, Bluetooth low-energy beacons, and web applications), deployed into existing training programs and assessed in an operational educational setting. The proposed technology represents an advancement in eLearning for preparedness training. The sensor simulator is a mobile phone application that behaves much like a real gas sensor would. When held near a simulated leaking barrel, its readings will give the student an opportunity to demonstrate recall of safety protocols and to exercise judgment into the handling of the hazard. This is an advance over current training exercises that consist of verbal descriptions provided by the instructor. The augmented reality training system will give students autonomy and the opportunity to act on their own, call for help, mitigate the hazard, and/or withdraw. Multiple beacons can be deployed to allow students to independently and simultaneously engage in simulated HAZOPS response increasing the throughput for simulation training and reducing downtime waiting for other students to engage in these exercises. The effectiveness of this change in training will be evaluated using a survey and quantitative results related to engagement and relevance as well as a measure of throughput (student’s exercises / hour) of simulation training.

Oil Spill Response Using In Situ Burning: e-Learning for Responder Safety and Effectiveness

Application Number Principal Investigator Company
1 R43 ES028147-01 O'Brien, James Patrick D&E Technical, Inc.

Oil spill response is an intermittent and relatively infrequent activity for spills of any significant size. However, it is also fraught with hazards to workers who need to be aware of threats to their health and safety and know how to conduct spill response safely. This innovative training will be implemented by e-learning applications, to be later supplemented by hands-on practice that is specific to the job tasks of oil spill responders using in situ burning response techniques. Federal law, implemented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) rule at 29 CFR 1910.120, places certain requirements and restrictions on workers at oil spills. Unlike other, more general HAZWOPER training, this particular effort will focus on the relevant job tasks of oil spill responders using in situ burning response techniques, provide practical training, and be economical to administer. The HAZWOPER requirements that apply to oil spill response are specified in OSHA Publication 3172. Other guidance developed under the auspices of the Joint Industry Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Task Force and the American Petroleum Institute (API), Oil Spill Emergency Preparedness and Response Subcommittee, includes draft guidelines for the selection and training of in situ burning personnel (proposed API Technical Report 1253). It is a challenge to have sufficient numbers of workers trained to respond to rare events like oil spills. Innovative means are needed to allow workers to be trained and deployed very quickly in the event of a sizable oil spill. The intent of Phase I of this project is to develop a training syllabus from these guidance documents to address the learning of those competencies that are unique to oil spill response using in situ burning. Typically, HAZWOPER training is more effective when verbal presentations are combined with hands-on practice to refine and reinforce the presented skills. Phase I of this project will include researching, developing, and evaluating the effectiveness of various combinations of ways of conducting the verbal (lecture) portion of the proposed course using e-teaching means. The means are expected to include a mix of written material, audio recordings, still photographs, sketches, video clips, quizzes, automated feedback, interactive forums, virtual hands-on scenarios, instructor feedback, and tests. Evaluation is expected to be by questionnaire, interview, quiz/test answer analysis and variation of the means of presenting the material to test groups of students. Phase II of the project is anticipated to be the combination of the e-learning effort developed in Phase I with hands-on training leading to a certification of proficiency for trained individuals.

Realistic Adaptive Immersive Learning System (RAILS) for HAZMAT Site

Application Number Principal Investigator Company
1 R43 ES028143-01 Barnes, Rhett James Spectral Labs, Inc.

The work proposed aims to develop an immersive videogame-based training program to train HAZMAT workers specifically involved in the emergency response, site characterization, waste removal, and site remediation at the extensively contaminated sites on the National Priorities List. Specific training will be designed to meet the mandates of 29 CFR 1910.120 for HAZWOPER training required for workers accessing Superfund sites and other employees who are exposed to hazardous substances through the clean-up, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste, directly tackling the goals of the NIEHS Hazardous Waste Worker Training Program. The development will provide a first-person immersive training environment for the trainee to learn and practice key operational tasks, such as site characterization and analysis, site control, monitoring, and decontamination by allowing the trainee to actively participate in the operation, performing tasks from the first-person perspective, with realistic environments, equipment, and tools. The trainee will be able to utilize accurately modeled instruments representative of those most commonly found in site emergency response, characterization, and remediation work. By simultaneously simulating both chemical and radiological hazards, the training will have unique capabilities specifically targeted to meet site-specific training requirements of the NIEHS/DOE Nuclear Worker Training Program. The work builds off Spectral Labs' development of the RAILS (Realistic Adaptive Interactive Learning System) suite of software for training of police, first responders, and security workers to operate radiological, chemical detection equipment. It will retain the current RAILS functionality of:

  • Immersive realistic operating environments
  • Real-time, accurate instrument indications and threat modelling

Specific newly-implemented features tailored specifically to those working in environmental remediation or emergency response to hazardous sites include:

  • New material to cover 1910.120 operations (specifically characterization and analysis, site control, monitoring, and decontamination)
  • Develop soil and air sampling, as well as sample collection for vapor samples
  • Implement contaminant plume physics for in-game sampling of soil/liquid samples
  • Add specific instrument makes/models based on subject matter expert input

Smartphone Simulator for Realistic Radiation HAZMAT and Emergency Response Training

Application Number Principal Investigator Company
2 R44 ES026826-02 Motakef, Shariar CapeSym, Inc.

High levels of ionizing radiation are a major public health concern. This proposal seeks to develop a simulator-based tool for radiation HAZMAT and emergency response training. The smartphone simulator produces a virtual environment where the trainee can explore the operation of a variety of handheld radiation detectors in realistic scenarios involving the presence of radioactive sources. The smartphone application (app) will emulate a wide range of commercial instruments with different capabilities, limitations, and modes of operation. It also creates realistic scenarios that capture the effect of radioactive sources of unknown strength and composition, shielding, distance, and the layout of buildings and landscape. The training app is based on recent software developments at CapeSym that allow for high fidelity simulation of both the radiation environment and the response of commercial detector instruments. The training app will be designed to allow direct participation of the instructor, both in defining the radiation scenario and assessing the performance of the trainees. The training modules will be customizable by the instructor, using easy-to-modify templates. As the app would be on the trainee's smartphone, all of the training modules would be available outside of a traditional training course, providing opportunities for continual, self-directed training. The proposed app will allow trainees to receive hands-on experience with expensive instruments, at negligible cost. It also allows training in simulated complex scenarios with high levels of gamma and neutron radiation, which can be otherwise prohibitively dangerous and expensive to conduct. This training app allows for widespread, low-cost training of a large number of HAZMAT and emergency responders across the country. To date, we have demonstrated the technical feasibility of our approach and have demonstrated fully functional emulators for two commercial radiation detection instruments. In Phase II, we will add additional detection capabilities to our emulators, release a software toolkit for third-party development of emulators for a wide range of commercial equipment, and develop software tools for trainers for easy setup and monitoring of complex search and identify scenarios. We will work closely with the HAZMAT training program of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) to incorporate the developed app into training programs for HAZMAT and emergency responders.

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