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Health Phys. 2010 Feb;98(2):118-27. doi: 10.1097/HP.0b013e3181a6de7d.

The view from the trenches: part 1-emergency medical response plans and the need for EPR screening.

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  • 1Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH, USA.


Few natural disasters or intentional acts of war or terrorism have the potential for such severe impact upon a population and infrastructure as the intentional detonation of a nuclear device within a major U.S. city. In stark contrast to other disasters or even a "dirty bomb," hundreds of thousands will be affected and potentially exposed to a clinically significant dose of ionizing radiation. This will result in immediate deaths and injuries and subsequently the development of Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS). Additionally, millions more who are unlikely to develop ARS will seek medical evaluation and treatment, overwhelming the capacity of an already compromised medical system. In this paper, the authors propose that in vivo electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) dosimetry be utilized to screen large numbers of potentially exposed victims, and that this screening process be incorporated into the medical-surge framework that is currently being implemented across the nation for other catastrophic public health emergencies. The National Incident Management System (NIMS), the National Response Framework (NRF), the Target Capabilities List (TCL), Homeland Security Presidential Directives (HSPD), as well as additional guidance from multiple federal agencies provide a solid framework for this response. The effective screening of potentially-exposed victims directly following a nuclear attack could decrease the number of patients seeking immediate medical care by greater than 90%.

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