Security is usually tight at the annual New York City Thanksgiving Day Parade. A news station reported last year that “parade goers could expect to see sand trucks, heavy weapons teams, observation teams, K-9s and aviation units…to ensure a save venue.” Last year we wrote about identifying possible radiological threats at New York City’s famous parade in Could the Thanksgiving Day Parade Be a Radiological Threat?
There’s 2.5 miles of public viewing along the Thanksgiving Day parade route. Security must coordinate more than 8,000 participants, dozens of floats, balloons and vehicles. That already sounds like a tall order, but add in another 3.5 million revelers lining the streets of New York City to watch the parade in person, and it seems like an overwhelming task for the police and first responders.
Officers often don’t know what they’re walking into or if their lives are at risk. Is that puddle of water on the sidewalk a toxic spill, or just water spilled from someone’s water bottle or a dripping air conditioner? Is that box sitting in the middle of the road emitting harmful radiation or something that fell off a float? Luckily, there are real-time tools that can help clarify the situation and determine an appropriate course of action that could be critical to law enforcement or police officer safety.
There are multiple device types and technologies to protect first responders and the public, even when they are lined up for miles. For instance, chemical identification systems enable hazmat, law enforcement, military and other first responders to obtain accurate identification of chemicals, explosives and hazardous materials in seconds, even through sealed translucent containers. There are other types of handheld chemical analyzers that can identify a broad range of unknown chemicals and explosives in the field quickly, safely, and confidently using FTIR and Raman spectroscopy in a single instrument. First responders can use these instruments to identify unknown solids and liquids, from explosives and chemical warfare agents to industrial chemicals and precursors.
Law enforcement also has field identification capability for many new high priority alarm narcotics, opioids, and synthetic drugs. There are narcotics analyzers that can identify substances including several fentanyl derivatives, with the major addition of carfentanil, acrylfentanyl, fentanyl precursors (NPP and ANPP) and pharmaceutical variants (Alfentanil and Sufentanil).
For radiation detection and identification, there are portable radiation detectors that can quickly distinguish between naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) and radiation from man-made sources such as improvised nuclear devices (INDs) or radiological dispersal devices (RDDs). A Personal Radiation Detector (PRD) is a pager-sized instrument used for gamma detection, gamma ID, and neutron detection. Police officers wear this PRD as a primary means of locating source as they walk the event. Spectroscopic Area Monitors can detect and identify radiation on location and report results to users miles away from the source. They deliver high precision gamma and neutron radiation measurements and deliver real-time data across a wide range of environments and radiation dose rate levels. A Radiation Detection Backpack is ideal for field use to quickly locate orphaned sources, radiation contamination and potential malicious intent sources – without being highly visible to the crowd. Officers can strap the backpack on, and unobtrusively locate and very rapidly detect gamma-emitting radioactive sources in large areas — especially useful for a parade route.
Parade Route Plan Case Study
We have created a diagram of a typical parade route scenario, and outlined the appropriate place for radiation monitoring and detection equipment to be placed. This is not for a specific Thanksgiving route, but the diagram gives a nice example of how police can monitor traffic and fans along a long parade route in a populated area.
Click here to open the Parade Route Radiation Monitoring document and diagram.