New report looks at first response to nuke attack
| 09.01.2006 | 06:31:59 | Views: 2580 | ID:
September 1 '06: The US is unprepared to respond to a nuclear threat, a new report released by the Physicians for Social Responsibility found. ABC News reported that the organization, which has won a Nobel Prize, studied three scenarios involving a nuclear, radiological threat or an attack on a nuclear power plant.
Dr. Ira Helfand, the co-author of the report entitled, The US and Nuclear Terrorism: Still Dangerously Unprepared told ABC News, "It's pretty depressing. ... We found that the US government lacks a workable plan to respond to the likely medical needs. Thousands of American civilians injured by a nuclear terrorist attack could survive with better preparedness."In the report, the PSR found that the federal, state and local governments "do not have a workable plan to respond to the medical needs of the huge numbers of people who would be injured in a nuclear terrorist attack. ... The government's ability to quickly and effectively evacuate communities or shelter populations downwind will be the single most important factor in minimizing casualties" in each of the scenarios. The group advocates clear lines of communication between medical responders; field teams dispatched to help with evacuations; federal, state and local governments; and the pre-positioning and distribution of medical supplies and communications equipment to help ease the burden on medical centers and hospitals. Because hospitals would become jammed with victims, "A comprehensive plan for providing emergency and continuing patient care will be effective only if communities have adequate teams of health professionals available to them and access to essential medical equipment and supplies required for mass treatment." In the end, it is important that responders in the field "must work to develop creative solutions to this challenge," the report said. Department of Homeland Security Press Secretary Russ Knocke told ABC News that the report's "recommendations are clearly well-intentioned and appreciated, but let's keep our eye on the ball. ... The loss of life and economic ramifications from a nuclear attack would be unlike anything we have ever seen ... so the focus and responsibility of government must be first and foremost on preventing such an attack."
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