Detection and identification equipment needs to be used in a manner that supports mission objectives and the overall concept of operations. Since sensors are information tools, it helps to use them in a way that provides information useful to operational decisions. One method that I have found helpful, not only for my own use but also in training others, is the “decision tree.” A decision tree is a flow chart describing the use of sensors in a logical order.
The decision trees that I include here are merely for illustration purposes. An organization will have to develop its own decision trees, as this tool is specific to the equipment and training in use by a particular team or organization. Mission requirements and concepts of operations should drive the development of decision trees.
The sample decision trees utilize items of equipment commonly in use in emergency response as representative samples and do not represent the author's specific recommendation.
Example 1 shows a decision tree for detection and identification of unknown gases and vapors, based on commonly available sensors.
Example 2 is a decision tree for examining unknown liquids. Once again, commonly used technologies are cited. With minor modifications (omission of detection-paper steps), this decision tree could be used to analyze powders.
Example 3 shows the decision process to analyze radiation-detection events. This decision tree presumes that the ...