[ RadSafe ] I-131 Patients and Taxi Driver

Brennan, Mike (DOH) Mike.Brennan at DOH.WA.GOV
Tue Feb 19 11:44:29 CST 2008

Sadly, I don't find Ken's scenario unreasonable.  I've talked to firemen who stated that if the meter in his truck reaches twice the background at his station he will pull back and wait for Radiation Protection to arrive.  This from someone with "enter burning building" in his job description.  I believe that First responders should be given instruments only when they have been trained on their proper use.   

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] On Behalf Of Peterson, Ken
Sent: Saturday, February 16, 2008 10:05 AM
To: Franz Schönhofer; radsafe at radlab.nl
Subject: RE: [ RadSafe ] I-131 Patients and Taxi Driver

You are missing the point and not analyzing the situation from anything other than an individual's health perspective.  I asked if 200mCi would be significant.  It would not be from a health standpoint.  However, imagine a scenario in the immediate aftermath of a bombing:  panic, fear, anger and other emotions are running rampant.  People are confused, in shock.  Emergency responders start to arrive.  Maybe standard procedure is to sweep the area with a survey meter, maybe there is just a detector mounted on a truck, in any case, the survey meter starts to give elevated readings in the area.  Is the responder trained in health physics, survey and decon procedures?  Probably not.  What is more likely is that as soon as the meter starts to click, he is going to do what he is trained to do - start screaming "dirty bomb" and evacuate the area for blocks.  A post-incident investigation would later determine the cause of the readings, but the initial response would be to assume the worst.  Terror will elevate exponentially, maybe even resulting in mob psychosis and trampling deaths.  In the intervening hours before a trained, outfitted team can enter the area and determine the low level of danger, speculation and misinformation will run wild.  Wind rose calculations might fuel further mass evacuations.  Unintentionally, the bomber's mission to create chaos and terrify civilians will have succeeded beyond his (or her) wildest dreams.  The area would be weeks recovering, even after a cleanup and decay left no trace of contamination in the area.

Better to put the patient in a cab!  

Ken Peterson

-----Original Message-----
From: Franz Schönhofer [mailto:franz.schoenhofer at chello.at]
Sent: Saturday, February 16, 2008 11:33 AM
To: Peterson, Ken; radsafe at radlab.nl
Subject: AW: [ RadSafe ] I-131 Patients and Taxi Driver


Have you really thought over, what you wrote? You compare negligible doses from I-131 to a very limited area and a few people with the catastrophic event of killing several up to dozens of persons? How do you expect the 200 mCi adminstered to a person to be spread evenly - what a disgusting thought!

Suicide bombings are a problem because of the deaths and the injuries they cause, but not that maybe one among a million bus passengers might have a body burden of I-131. I personally would prefer rather standing close to such a person, than loosing a hand of a foot or my eyesight or be killed. 

This is out of any proportion regarding risk. 


Franz Schoenhofer, PhD
MinRat i.R.
Habicherg. 31/7
A-1160 Wien/Vienna

You are currently subscribed to the RadSafe mailing list

Before posting a message to RadSafe be sure to have read and understood the RadSafe rules. These can be found at: http://radlab.nl/radsafe/radsaferules.html

For information on how to subscribe or unsubscribe and other settings visit: http://radlab.nl/radsafe/

More information about the RadSafe mailing list