Distance Education as a Tool to Train Medical Providers to Respond to a Nuclear Terrorism Event


R. E. Goans, L. E. White, S. H. Allen


The United States is poorly prepared to provide a medical response to a nuclear terrorist event. A dirty bomb or a nuclear detonation poses safety issues for emergency responders and medical personnel, triage, medical treatment of injuries, and protection of the public. Unlike most mass casualty incidents, the medical community has largely not been trained in the management of radiation-related injuries or radiation protection. Face-to-face instruction can involve at most 1% each year of the 39,746 emergency physicians required for full U.S. emergency department staffing. The Center for Applied Environmental Public Health (CAEPH) at Tulane has a long and successful record of using state-of-the-art distance learning technologies to teach environmental and occupational health issues. A prototype graduate level class in health physics currently addresses radiation terrorism scenarios. The class is taught in real-time to a cohort of 30 students living in 18 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Lack of preparation in physical sciences is addressed by using such programs as the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) Hotspot program and the Armed Forces Radiological Research Institute (AFRRI) Biodosimetry Assessment Tool (BAT), both of which are taught. Due to extreme shortage of physician training in radiation accident management in the U.S., expansion of this mode of education delivery to the national level is warranted.


This abstract was presented at the 36th Annual Midyear Meeting, "Radiation Safety Aspects of Homeland Security and Emergency Response", Emerging Technologies, Part 1 Session, 1/26/2003 - 1/29/2003, held in San Antonio, TX.

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