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Prehosp Disaster Med. 2000 Apr-Jun;15(2):18-25.

An Internet-based exercise as a component of an overall training program addressing medical aspects of radiation emergency management.

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Boston University School of Medicine, MA 02118, USA.


The use of ionizing radiation and radioactive materials continues to increase worldwide in industry, medicine, agriculture, research, electrical power generation, and nuclear weaponry. The risk of terrorism using weapons of mass destruction or simple radiological devices also has increased, leading to heightened concerns. Radiation accidents occur as a consequence of errors in transportation of radionuclides, use of radiation in medical diagnosis and therapy, industrial monitoring and sterilization procedures, and rarely, nuclear power generation. Compared to other industries, a small number of serious radiation accidents have occurred over the last six decades with recent cases in the Republic of Georgia, Peru, Japan, and Thailand. The medical, psychological, and political consequences of such accidents can be considerable. A number of programs designed to train medical responders in the techniques of radiation accident management have been developed and delivered in many countries. The low frequency of serious radiation accidents requires constant re-training, as skills are lost and medical staff turnover occurs. Not all of the training involves drills or exercises in which responders demonstrate learning or communication over the broad spectrum of medical response capabilities. Medical preparedness within the context of a total emergency response program is lacking in many parts of the world, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States. This paper describes an effort to enhance medical preparedness in the context of a total program of international cooperation and conventions facilitated by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The paper concludes that novel application of telecommunications technology as part of a training activity in radiation accident preparedness can help address gaps in training in this field in which preparedness is essential but experience and practical field exercises are lacking.

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