Although a lot of people seem to have convinced themselves that the threat of a nuclear detonation on American soil ended with the collapse of the former Soviet Union, and the end of the Cold War, that threat never really went away.
The famous Doomsday Clock created by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1947 - which represents how close we are to a man-made global catastrophe (originally nuclear annihilation) - reached its closest point to Midnight (2 minutes) in 1952, during the height of the cold war.
While the risk of nuclear confrontation dropped precipitously after the breakup of the Soviet Union (17 minutes til Midnight in 1991), the clock has been moving steadily closer to `midnight' for the past two decades.
In 2015, the clock was reset to 3 minutes til midnight, and today sits at 2.5 minutes.Not all of the threats are nuclear (others include cyber threats, climate change, bioterrorism, etc.) - but the nuclear threat remains a significant component in the global risk analysis. Admittedly, with the rhetoric heating up between North Korea, and the U.S., the nuclear threat has recently gained greater visibility - at least by the media and the public.
But none of this is really new. In 2013, we saw the HHS let a multi-million dollar contract to stockpile Thrombosomes – freeze-dried platelets – used for the treatment of acute radiation sickness.
HHS funds development of freeze-dried platelets for disaster response
New product could improve care for Acute Radiation Syndrome and daily medical care
Date: September 20, 2013In NPM13: Radiological Emergencies, we took a longer look at the advice provided on the CDC’s PHE website in the event of a nuclear detonation, dirty bomb, or other radiological incident, and I've included it in several National Preparedness Month series of blogs since then.
Part of protecting the nation is thinking about the unthinkable, and then preparing ways to deal with it. Even a low probability-high impact event like a nuclear detonation.Later this month (Jan 16th), the CDC will offer a Grand Rounds Presentation on the public health response to a nuclear detonation. While it is bound to raise some eyebrows, particularly among those who didn't grow up in the `duck & cover' world of 1950s-1980s, the need for this sort of planning continues today.
Each month the CDC holds a Grand Rounds event that focuses on a single health-related issue. In the past I’ve highlighted their broadcasts on such diverse topics as Multidrug-Resistant Gonorrhea, Childhood Emergency Preparedness, and Discovering New Diseases . . . to name a few.
The CDC maintains an archive of these informative presentations – going back to 2009 – which you can access at Grand Rounds – Archives. Highly recommended.Details on the next Grand Rounds presentation follow. If you are unable to access the live feed, the archived video is usually posted online within 48 hours.
Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation
January 16, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. (ET)
While a nuclear detonation is unlikely, it would have devastating results and there would be limited time to take critical protection steps. Despite the fear surrounding such an event, planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness. For instance, most people don’t realize that sheltering in place for at least 24 hours is crucial to saving lives and reducing exposure to radiation. While federal, state, and local agencies will lead the immediate response efforts, public health will play a key role in responding.
Join us for this session of Grand Rounds to learn what public health programs have done on a federal, state, and local level to prepare for a nuclear detonation. Learn how planning and preparation efforts for a nuclear detonation are similar and different from other emergency response planning efforts.
CDC’s Public Health Grand Rounds Presents:
“Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation”
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. (ET)
Global Communications Center (Building 19)
Alexander D. Langmuir Auditorium
Dan Sosin, MD, MPH
Deputy Director and Chief Medical Officer
Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“Preparing for the Unthinkable”
CAPT Michael Noska, MS
Radiation Safety Officer and Senior Advisor for Health Physics
Chair, Advisory Team for Environment, Food and Health (A Team)
Office of the Commissioner
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
“Using Data and Decision Aids to Drive Response Efforts”
Robert Whitcomb, PhD
Chief, Radiation Studies Branch
Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects
National Center for Environmental Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“Public Health Resources to Meet Critical Components of Preparedness”
Betsy Kagey, PhD
Academic and Special Projects Liaison
Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response
Division of Health Protection
Georgia Department of Health
“Roadmap to Radiation Preparedness”
John Iskander, MD, MPH, Scientific Director, Public Health Grand Rounds
Phoebe Thorpe, MD, MPH, Deputy Scientific Director, Public Health Grand Rounds
Susan Laird, MSN, RN, Communications Director, Public Health Grand Rounds