In one class, students play hide’n’seek with an opponent they cannot see: a radioactive isotope.
The UAB class, NMT 421L, offered by the Nuclear Medicine Technology program, provides students with rare experience using a SAM 940, a new radiation isotope identifier known in the field as the “Defender and Revealer.”
The device — used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, food and drug inspectors and HAZMAT first-responders — is a great acquisition for both the program, said Norman Bolus, program director and assistant professor in the Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences.
“Most portable survey meters will only tell you if there is radiation present, but the SAM 940 spectrometer will tell you the type and amount of radiation and whether or not the area is safe,” Bolus said.
“I was impressed that the screen was very detailed yet easy to read,” said senior Alisha Lawton. “The SAM 940 was easy to operate, too. I did not have any prior training before using it for the first time, and I was able to quickly and accurately identify the isotope.”
The machine, designed to be lightweight and easy to use, also is expensive at $10,000-$15,000. “A large portion of this acquisition was made available by using the NMT program gift account,” Bolus said.
“This state-of-the-art tool is a great acquisition for our students to learn the latest technology in their field, and it is available for the UAB and Birmingham communities in case there is ever a radiation emergency,” Bolus said.
The NMT faculty and students work with the UAB Center for Patient Safety and Advanced Medical Simulation to explore scenarios in which a SAM 940 can be used, such as dirty bomb explosions or nuclear spills.