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Terrorism / WMD Response Tip

Guidelines for responding to a radiation emergency

Name: Environmental Protection Agency

There are times when a first responder must treat a patient who has been exposed to or present amid harmful radiation. To aid responders, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued radiation protection guidelines for responding to these emergencies.

Responders can reference the Protective Action Guides manual to assist in any radiation emergency, such as: a nuclear power plant incident, Department of Energy or Defense facilities incident, foreign reactor incident, research facility incident, contaminated materials at steel mills or scrap metal recycling facilities, transportation accidents involving radioactive materials, and radiological dispersal devices (RDDs) or dirty bombs.

Here is a brief overview of response protocols for the three phases of a nuclear incident:

Early Phase: External radiation from facility

  • Sheltering
  • Evacuation
  • Control of access

Intermediate Phase: Contamination of skin and clothes

  • Sheltering
  • Evacuation
  • Decontamination of persons

Intermediate Phase: External radiation from ground deposition of radioactivity

  • Evacuation
  • Relocation
  • Decontamination of land and property

Late Phase: Inhalation of re-suspended radioactivity

  • Relocation
  • Decontamination of land and property

For more information or to download the Protective Action Guides, visit http://www.epa.gov/radiation/rert/pags.html.

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