On-Site Inspection Division Holds First In-Person Course Since COVID-19 Pandemic Began

CTBTO’s On-Site Inspections Division held an In-Field Operations Support Training course at the CTBTO Technology Support and Training Centre (TeST Centre) in Seibersdorf, Austria from 17 – 25 November 2022 as a refresher training course for surrogate inspector trainees. Topics covered during the course included the installation, sustainment and decommissioning of the Base of Operations (BoO) infrastructure including the working, receiving, joint areas, field laboratory as well as the health and safety infrastructure.

“During the past two weeks we had the opportunity to welcome our surrogate inspectors from different Member States to take part in this In-Field Operations Support Training Course which is a very important launching point for our On-Site Inspection Linear Training Programme,” said Franz Ontal, Chief of OSI Training Section.

“This training session is very important because we are refreshing the skills of the In-Field Operations Team so that they are ready to deploy the Base of Operations and to support future training activities with larger groups of surrogate inspectors as our training programme greatly increases in 2023 and beyond,” he added.

Various modules of BoO infrastructure and sustainability were covered during the course including an overview of all the phases of the BoO construction, the installation of multiple-purpose tents, power distribution, cooling and heating systems, an accommodation area, the field Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure, and the health and safety infrastructure consisting of a decontamination station and medical equipment. A validation exercise took place after the BoO was operationalized in which a field team was deployed to perform an environmental sampling mission with the Geoprobe, a direct push machine used to make holes for subsurface noble gas sampling that can also extract soil samples from the subsurface. Trainees playing the roles of inspection team members as well as field team members used the BoO infrastructure to prepare, deploy and receive the field team back at the BoO.

“We’ve been working on how to set up the BoO, how to sustain it, how to make sure that it is running so everything is working, we need to have all the facilities up, we need to be able to work in the appropriate conditions to deliver an efficient inspection mission,” noted Morten Sickel, OSI Surrogate Inspector from Norway.

“The most important thing in this training is ‘cooperation’. The entire team is working together to install this BoO, making everything ready for the on-site inspection, and it is very important for the inspectors so they can do their work,” Sickel stressed.

Surrogate inspectors from the in-field operations support team work in unison to position an unpacked tent and prepare it for inflation during the commissioning of the Base of Operations (BoO)

Paola Garcia, OSI Surrogate Inspector from Chile, explained that “this training is very important because during the pandemic we didn’t have the opportunity to practice in the field; we had a lot of on-line trainings that were very useful in some way, but it is not the same as being in the field.”

Garcia added: “I gained a lot of confidence from this training. Being in the field is great because it is an opportunity to understand things better in a practical way and be trained in the use of equipment.

ICT specialists review the Geospatial Information Management for On-Site Inspection (GIMO) system which was deployed during the commissioning of the BoO

The training field laboratory is moved into position using heavy machinery. The final step in the physical commissioning of the field lab is the installation of the protective membrane which connects and creates a corridor between the two intermodal rapid deployment system (IMRDS) pods in which the field lab is installed.

As the first face-to-face OSI training activity since the start of the pandemic, the In-Field Operations Support course was successful in maintaining the skills of the operations support surrogate inspectors and ensuring their readiness to support and participate in future OSI training activities.

14 surrogate inspector trainees from 13 Member States, specialising in field deployment support, take part in In-Field Operations Support Training course