Working with the First Responder, Challenges for the HP

S.C. Moss (US Army)

The health physicist plays a critical role in helping prepare today's first responders in dealing with incidents involving radioactive material. Response to these types of incidents used to be limited to transportation or industrial accidents. Now fire and police services are increasing asked to prepare and respond to terrorist-related threats or incidents. Law enforcement services are playing a bigger role today in dealing with radioactive material than they have ever done before. With the words "dirty bomb" frequently seen in the media today, law enforcement personnel are now employing radiation-detection systems to detect a potential threat before it has a chance to be employed. They are relying heavily on the technical support of the health physicist to detect and identify what is a legitimate radiation source and what is a threat. Fire departments have always had to deal with a potential response to radioactive material incidents but this was limited to mainly transportation or industrial accidents. In these types of events they could perform life safety, stabilize the scene, and wait for the radiation cavalry to arrive. Today they must face a situation where large portions of the general population may be at risk and they have to take the appropriate actions with the limited resources they have available. This session will look at many of the challenges faced by health physicists as they begin to work with the first-response community. Some of these challenges include getting your foot in the door, translating "radiation" into a hazard they can understand, ensuring the technologies they are using are appropriate to the task, training, and technical support during an incident.

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