Skip Navigation

ORAU Designs Virtual Community Reception Center for the CDC

Equipping health departments for mass casualty radiation emergencies through 3-D virtual training

Virtual Community Reception Center video frame

The Virtual Community Reception Center. Click image to launch video.

Following a mass casualty radiation emergency, public health professionals will play a crucial role in assessing radiation exposures, screening for radioactive contamination, and prioritizing people for further care. This process—population monitoring—will be conducted in community reception centers, or CRCs, but unfortunately, many public health departments are not yet prepared to conduct CRC operations.

In order to support training and planning efforts at the state and local levels, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Radiation Studies Branch and ORAU developed the Virtual Community Reception Center. This Web-based training tool provides an overview of the CRC process for planners, managers and potential CRC staff. 

The vCRC is a self-paced program that uses a simulated 3-D environment, embedded video segments, an interactive process flow diagram and customizable supporting resources to deliver a unique training experience for all users.

The training allows users to “walk through” a CRC while in the training and planning stages—an experience that can strengthen subsequent CRC drills and exercises. 

The embedded videos and supporting resources were developed by ORAU staff working closely with CDC subject matter experts, and the information featured in vCRC is based on best practices observed at numerous federal, state and local exercises and drills.

“At the time we started, all we had was a flowchart,” said Eileen Haag, ORAU e-Learning Applications group manager. “Then the result was this four-panel screen that offered alternative ways to view content—a framework for a training presentation that accommodates both big picture and detailed thinking types. This unique style is sure to be something that ORAU can re-use for future training products.” 

So far, feedback for vCRC—which has been approved for continuing education credit—has been extremely positive. Dr. Jim Smith, former branch chief of CDC Radiation Studies Branch, has called vCRC “…a great contribution to the CDC and state, local [radiation and nuclear] preparedness planning.”

To view vCRC on the CDC’s home page, visit: