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Improvised Nuclear Devices: DHS Publishes Guide for Protecting First Responders

Improvised Nuclear Devices: DHS Publishes Guide for Protecting First Responders

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By Kimberly Arsenault
EDM Digest

In December 2016, the Department of Homeland Security published a new guide to assist in the protection of first responders in the event of improvised nuclear device (IND) explosion. The intent of the guide is to help ensure the immediate health and safety of first responders for the first 24-72 hours following a blast.

The full planning guide offers assistance to response planners, safety officers, and supervisors regarding potential issues that first responders will encounter if an IND occurs. The intent of the guide is to assist in maintaining the health and safety of first responders following an IND blast so that they may continue helping save the lives of others without placing themselves in danger or at high risk of radiation exposure. To provide a reference point, the guide is based on a 10 kiloton yield IND explosion that is detonated on the ground.

Understanding an IND and the Damage Zones

The guide breaks down the IND explosion according to what will occur in mere moments after the explosion, denoting damage zones that range from severe to light, the fallout zones that are based on wind (upper level wind awareness is critical) and weather, and the survival rates of individuals within those zones. Emergency response capabilities are most likely to be negatively impacted by the severity of damage within the zones, requiring first responders from outside the blast zones, so proper preparedness is key.

Damage Zones and Planning a Zoned Response

Information from the guide denotes the various damage zones and the approximate radius for each while indicating the types of damage likely to found within each zone, the type and extent of casualties and injuries, and the expected levels of radiation.

The planning guide cautions that field measurement data for radiation levels is not likely to be immediately available and advises against first responders rushing into contaminated zones without the proper personal protective equipment (PPEs). It also reminds first responders that radiation cannot be felt or seen – it must be measured with the appropriate equipment.

Read the full article at EDM Digest.

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