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The hallmark of a successful response to a nuclear detonation will be the resilience of the community, region, and nation. An incident of this magnitude will rapidly become a national incident; however, the initial critical steps to reduce lives lost, save the lives that can be saved with the resources available, and understand and apply resources available to a complex and dynamic situation will be the responsibility of the local and regional responders and planners. Expectations of the public health and health care systems will be met to the extent possible by coordination, cooperation, and an effort to produce as consistent a response as possible for the victims. Responders will face extraordinarily stressful situations, and their own physical and psychological health is of great importance to optimizing the response. This article illustrates through vignettes and supporting text how the incident may unfold for the various components of the health and medical systems and provides additional context for the discipline-related actions outlined in the state and local planners’ playbook.
(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2011;5:S73-S88)
For efficient and effective medical responses to mass casualty events, detailed advanced planning is required. For federal responders, this is an ongoing responsibility. The US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) prepares playbooks with formal, written plans that are reviewed, updated, and exercised regularly. Recognizing that state and local responders with fewer resources may be helped in creating their own event-specific response plans, subject matter experts from the range of sectors comprising the Scarce Resources for a Nuclear Detonation Project, provided for this first time a state and local planner's playbook template for responding to a nuclear detonation. The playbook elements are adapted from DHHS playbooks with appropriate modification for state and local planners. Individualization by venue is expected, reflecting specific assets, populations, geography, preferences, and expertise. This playbook template is designed to be a practical tool with sufficient background information and options for step-by-step individualized planning and response.
(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2011;5:S89-S97)
The purpose of this article is to set the context for this special issue of Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness on the allocation of scarce resources in an improvised nuclear device incident. A nuclear detonation occurs when a sufficient amount of fissile material is brought suddenly together to reach critical mass and cause an explosion. Although the chance of a nuclear detonation is thought to be small, the consequences are potentially catastrophic, so planning for an effective medical response is necessary, albeit complex. A substantial nuclear detonation will result in physical effects and a great number of casualties that will require an organized medical response to save lives. With this type of incident, the demand for resources to treat casualties will far exceed what is available. To meet the goal of providing medical care (including symptomatic/palliative care) with fairness as the underlying ethical principle, planning for allocation of scarce resources among all involved sectors needs to be integrated and practiced. With thoughtful and realistic planning, the medical response in the chaotic environment may be made more effective and efficient for both victims and medical responders.
(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2011;5:S20-S31)
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