CTOS Program Trains 200,000th First Responder

Rhonda Hopkins (left) and Raffi Papazian (right) present Patrick Hewitt with special recognition during the recent CTOS graduation ceremony.

Immediately following the Oklahoma City bombing 22 years ago, first responders were overwhelmed with the amount of response needed. The National Domestic Preparedness Consortium was created soon after to ensure every potential act of terrorism in the United States would be addressed by training. As a result, the Nevada National Security Site's Counter Terrorism Operations Support (CTOS) program was born.

CTOS trains first responders from communities across the United States, and such training is necessary in this changing world.

"We want first responders to be comfortable going into the scene instead of walking away from the scene," said NSTec Vice President for Program Integration Raffi Papazian. "This class gives them the comfort level through education and hands-on exercises in the environment we created."

In 2017, CTOS has graduated its 200,000th student from its course, a major milestone for the program.

"I could not be more proud today when we recognize how far we’ve come since our creation and now with our 200,000th student," said CTOS Manager Rhonda Hopkins during a recent CTOS graduation ceremony.

Hewitt during the CTOS course.

Patrick Hewitt, a driver from Wylie Fire and Rescue in Wylie, Texas, was the 200,000th student to graduate from the CTOS training course. Hewitt signed up for this course because he had limited knowledge of radiation and he knew it would be worthwhile to learn how to respond in that kind of situation.

"I’ve been to several training opportunities and they [CTOS] are by far the most knowledgeable," said Hewitt. "It’s unlike any course I have ever been to."

Hewitt, along with one other person from Wylie Fire and Rescue, attended the CTOS training course and are now able to take the knowledge back to their department.

"It makes our responders safer as well as our community," he said.

Check out the CTOS 200,000th student video made during Hewitt's time at the Site.

The mission of the NNSS Global Security program is to ensure safety and security for the country, and the ultimate goal for CTOS is to train every first responder.

Science-Based Tour of NNSS Inspires Pahrump Valley High School Students

A student examines a geologic sample using a binocular microscope at one of the USGS Core Library visitor work stations.

On Sept. 28, 47 students, teachers and staff from Pahrump Valley High School’s GEAR UP Program experienced a special tour of the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS).

The tour, initiated by a Nevada Site Specific Advisory Board member representing Pahrump, focused on science at the NNSS. Participants visited the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Core Library in Mercury which houses more than 2 million linear feet of geologic cuttings and drilling cores, some that were retrieved from thousands of feet below the earth’s surface. Tour participants were provided a hands-on opportunity to learn about the geologic cores and examined a few up close using a microscope. The real-life lessons in science continued at the Area 5 Radioactive Waste Management Complex and U1a with discussions by scientists and other professionals with the Department of Energy’s Environmental Management Program in Nevada and the JASPER program, along with the tour’s historian (a Los Alamos National Laboratory retiree).

And it wasn’t only the science that piqued the interest of participants. The NNSS tour team brought history to life during stops at Frenchman Flat, Icecap, and Sedan Crater.

But it was the personal challenges and advice on never giving up on higher education and achieving success that resonated most with the GEAR UP students. The result of the team’s efforts are expressed best by Lisa Hamrick, GEAR UP Site Representative for Pahrump Valley High School, when she said “ ... you provided our young adults with real life lessons that will influence and support their futures. You will never fully understand the impact that you had on our students ... the tour exceeded our expectations in all aspects and touched the lives of the Nevada young adults who attended!”

The USGS Core Library Manager explains how a borehole video logging tool is used to determine the condition of casing (e.g., pipe) in a water well.
At Icecap, the tour’s historian, a Los Alamos National Laboratory retiree, explains the “stemming” of underground nuclear test holes thousands of feet deep.
Historic Sedan Crater provided a panoramic backdrop for a group photo.