Preparedness and Medical Response to Nuclear Events Aaron Sanderson American Military University PBHE 413 22 March 2020
Hollywood has spent many years and millions of dollars to show the shear destructive power of the nuclear reaction. The images of towns being ripped apart or people slowly melting have instilled horror for many decades. While all these images do have a factual basis, the truth is that nuclear energy is rather safe compared to most forms of energy production. The scariest part of the entire process is the unknown; the misunderstanding of a scientific process. The fear of a viable source of energy can be reduced and accepted in large by the global community with a little knowledge and understanding. Following the acceptance of the use of nuclear energy there must be a planning and preparation phase of what to expect in the case of an incident. The finest plans always have a contingency plan due to unforeseen mistakes and mishaps. These plans should be part of a local, state, and, national plan with nuclear generating plants within their limits and boundaries. Proper training and equipment should be essential parts of the planning aspect. A basic identification of the nuclear process and the hazards associated will bring into perspective what medical professionals can expect to see after a nuclear event. The first information to understand is the different variations of particles that are emitted during a reaction and the effects that they have on the human body. All radiation can have prolonged effects on the body, but simple measures may be put in place to mitigate those effects. The largest and most electrically charged particle is the alpha particle. This slow-moving particle does not travel fast enough to penetrate dense objects, failing to pass through a single sheet of paper or human skin, but causes the most targeted and direct damage to an area. The easiest transfer into the human body is through ingestion, inhalation, and direct access through cuts in the skin. After entering the body, the energy associated with alpha particles can be transferred to living cells in the body; killing or modifying the cell to have cancerous properties (Radiation Basics, 2019). This sounds scary, but the use of personnel protective equipment and a
respirator can reduce or eliminate this hazard. The second radiation is beta particles. Beta particles travel faster and can penetrate deeper than alpha particles. Penetration can be prevented by a light material, but inhalation and ingestion hazards are still concerns. The ionizing radiation given off by beta particles is more distributed and poses less of a hazard to the human body. Beta particles are used in medical procedures to help with internal imaging procedures. The body can process and repair any damage made by beta particles in an efficient manner. The third form of radiation are gamma and x-ray particles. These contain the most energy and can penetrate the most, making them extremely useful for medical purposes. Gamma particles have the most penetration value and can pass through the human body with ease.
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- Ionizing radiation, Gamma ray, Alpha particle, Chernobyl disaster