[ RadSafe ] ARTICLE: North American First Responders Lack Radiation Train...
JGinniver at aol.com
JGinniver at aol.com
Tue Nov 1 16:48:27 CST 2005
In a message dated 01/11/2005 16:54:39 GMT Standard Time, LNMolino at aol.com
WASHINGTON — Teaching more U.S. and Canadian emergency responders about
radiation and its effects would address a major vulnerability of the North
American nuclear-power infrastructure, a Canadian government radiation
said yesterday (see GSN, Sept. 30).
Help, I'm more than a little confused about the whole article. In the first
section (see above) the emphasis seems to be on the response of emergency
services to a major accident at a nuclear plant. Surely these plants have been
around long enough with the requirements for a robust emergency plan (post
Three Mile Island) that the emergency service should be trained to a suitable
standard for this type of incident? If not then something serious is wrong.
Alternatively is the author trying to suggest that the emergency services
are inadequately trained for other radiological emergencies that may occur i.e.
transport accidents. In my experience in the UK, the emergency services do
receive training and are supported by a dedicated emergency centre that
provides suitable advice to manage the incident until such time as professional
health physics personnel can attend the site, or if necessary provide further
advice if it is required.
This leaves a couple of other possible scenarios. sites where limited
quantities of radioactive material may be present and where the risk is low enough
that professional health physics advice may not be available from the site
operator. In these cases I would hope that, in the UK the training provided to
the Fire and Rescue services as part of their normal training programme and
the additional training provided by the Health Protection Agency - Radiation
Protection Division (used to be the NRPB) would suffice.
This just leaves a terrorist event. Perhaps I'm just naive in thinking that
any significant terrorist event involving radioactive material would involve
some form of improvised explosive device and that blast and possible fire
would have far more potential to injure than any quantity of radioactive
material that was dispersed, and that the normal procedures adopted for protection
against chemicals, which the emergency services encounter much more
frequently, is sufficient to prevent significant exposures.
There is however an issue, certainly for the US, that I just haven't any
experience of and that is the (seemingly to us in the UK) large numbers of
volunteer fire and rescue services. Although we do have part-time (volunteer)
fire services in the UK, these are trained to the same standards as their full
time colleagues for the roles in which they are approved to undertake. They
are limited in what they can do, and with the exception of some units located
close to nuclear plants, this would not include responding to a radiological
incident. Those units located close to nuclear plants usually have workers
from the plant and so possible have a better understanding of radiological
issues than their full time colleagues.
Feel free to throw rocks at me if you think I'm sitting just a little to
comfortably atop my off-white (not quite Ivory) tower.
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