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Radiological Triage

Triage LogoNNSA's Triage is a non-deployable, secure, on-line capability that provides remote support to emergency responders in the event of a nuclear or radiological emergency. Triage has on-call scientists available 24 hours a day to analyze site-specific data and confirm radioisotope identification in the event of a radiological incident.  The data is transmitted through the Triage website or provided over the telephone.

Triage is an integrated system that is comprised of scientist and engineers, from the NNSA's and the Department of Energy's national laboratories with expertise in spectroscopy.  Because of the level of expertise available at the national laboratories, Triage greatly improves the accuracy of radioisotope identification, precluding inaccurate identification of the radioisotopes, which could potentially lead to inappropriate incident-site management.

In addition, Triage is part of the Global Nuclear Detection Architecture coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  DHS has deployed radiation portal monitors at border crossings around the country.  When these monitors detect a radiation source that cannot be confirmed on-site, remote support is available through Triage and will provide rapid analysis of detection data.


The Triage mission is to provide secure on-line nuclear and radiological expertise to first responders within 30-60 minutes of receipt of data.  This integrated system provides essential time-sensitive information on the nature of the threat, allowing responders to develop and implement appropriate courses of action, and ensure the scope of the response is sufficient to provide for the health and safety of responders and the general public, without placing excessive and unnecessary demands on critical resources.

Steps in the Triage Response

  • The NNSA’s 24-hour Watch Office receives the first call that an incident has occurred.
  • The Emergency Response Officer (ERO) evaluates the situation, alerts the on-call scientist, and activates Triage. Also, the Radiological Assistance Program teams have the authority to activate the Triage.
  • Data can be transmitted in an unclassified format to the ERO or directly to Triage via the website.
  • Data is collected.
  • Data analysis begins within 10 minutes of receipt.
  • Data results provided back to the field within 30-60 minutes.

All NNSA teams that conduct search, detection and identification operations, to include the Radiological Assistance Program (RAP), the Search Response Team (SRT), and the Nuclear / Radiological Advisory Team (NRAT) can use Triage for low- and high-resolution isotopic identification.  This ensures consistency in the analysis of spectral data, allows a degree of  peer review on its interpretation, and provides decision-makers a standard architecture.