Training for Radiation Emergencies

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The public can be exposed to hazardous levels of ionizing radiation from nuclear war and disasters involving releases from nuclear reactors (e.g., the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, related to reactor malfunction and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011, related to the earthquake and tsunami). Dispersion of radiation may also occur from medical devices unintentionally. In 1985, a radiotherapy clinic in Goiânia, Brazil, was closed down. However, the clinic left behind an unsecured cesium-137 therapy device. The device was taken apart for scrap by unknowing members of the public, exposing dozens of people to radiation and causing four deaths (International Atomic Energy Agency, 1988). Some experts have predicted that terrorists might use ordinary explosives to disseminate radiation (dirty bombs). To prepare for these events as well as other events involving releases of ionizing radiation or nuclear material, emergency responders such as HazMat personnel, emergency medical services professionals, law enforcement, and the public health workforce receive training.

Using the Internet, find one example of such a training program or course for emergency responders described in detail. This may be a training that is provided locally or regionally in your state or provided at the national level by groups such as those listed in the Federal Emergency Management Association’s (FEMA’s) Center for Domestic Preparedness.

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In your response, address the following:

  • Briefly describe the course or training program, including whether the goal of the training is awareness or performance. List several key course objectives.
  • Discuss any hands-on training components of the training (such as drills, operation of equipment, handling of radioactive sources, etc.).
  • Who may benefit from the trainings on responding to radiation emergencies? What are some barriers to providing training to those groups?