The Hybrid Emergency Radiation Detection (HERD) system is a rapidly deployable ad-hoc wireless sensor network for monitoring the radiation hazard associated with a radiation release. The system is designed for low power, small size, low cost, and rapid deployment in order to provide early notification and minimize exposure. The many design tradeoffs, decisions, and challenges in the implementation of this wireless sensor network design will be presented and compared to the commercial systems available. Our research in a scaleable modular architectural highlights the need and implementation of a system level approach that provides flexibility and adaptability for a variety of applications. This approach seeks to minimize power, provide mission specific specialization, and provide the capability to upgrade the system with the most recent technology advancements by encapsulation and modularity. The implementation of a low power, widely available Real Time Operating System (RTOS) for multitasking with an improvement in code maintenance, portability, and reuse will be presented. Finally future design enhancements technology trends affecting wireless sensor networks will be presented.