Preparing for Nuclear War: CDC's Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation

  1. Hospitals have been conducting disaster training classes to prepare for mass casualties, active shooters, bombings, and natural disasters. Now a new potential catastrophic disaster looms on the horizon. Nuclear war. This is a very disturbing thought.




    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is planning a briefing for healthcare professionals on how to respond to a nuclear detonation. The Grand Round briefing will take place at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16 at the CDC Global Communications Center in Georgia and will be webcast live and later available on-demand.

    Here is the official announcement from the CDC:

    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, 20181:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. (ET)
    Global Communications Center (Building 19)Alexander D. Langmuir AuditoriumRoybal Campus




    Next for hospitals in disaster planning: How to prepare for nuclear war.
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Jan 5
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  2. 26 Comments

  3. by   amoLucia
    This is such a serious topic and I don't want to minimize it any way. But all I could think of when I first read this post's title was those drills we did as kids in grammar school in the 1950's and early 1960's (Cuban Missile Crisis era).

    Hide under our desks! That was it for the time.

    How does one 'webcast live'? I'd be interested to watch.
  4. by   tnbutterfly
    Quote from amoLucia
    This is such a serious topic and I don't want to minimize it any way. But all I could think of when I first read this post's title was those drills we did as kids in grammar school in the 1950's and early 1960's (Cuban Missile Crisis era).

    Hide under our desks! That was it for the time.

    How does one 'webcast live'? I'd be interested to watch.
    I remember those drills......

    As far as the webcast live, I think just click on the link provided and it will be active while the broadcast in going on.
  5. by   Accolay
    It'd be funny if it weren't so scary.

    South Park - Volcano part Duck and Cover - YouTube
  6. by   redreba
    CDC also released information about how to stay save in a zombie apocalypse. Sorry, but just more fear porn from the FEDS if you ask me.
  7. by   SummitRN
    It will be interesting to see the direction they take. Scenarios for nuclear attack generally involve single detonations (terrorism or accident) or multiple detonations (strategic exchanges between nation states). The former is difficult enough to prepare for. The latter is nigh impossible.

    It will be interesting to see if this is a logistics and planning education seminar from a hospital perspective vs a pt management training. The former should be interesting with discussions of national resources and logistics, casualty transport, etc. The latter will offer topics most are not educated on like Combined Injury Syndrome: dealing with overpressure/shrapnel injuries and/or burns in a patient also suffering acute radiation sickness.

    For scale, for a single detonation of a smaller (all things are relative) fission device, say a 5 kiloton groundburst in DC, you can expect 30-50K dead and 50-100K injured, and probably displaced/homeless/refugees on the scale of Hurricane Katrina. It would be the worst disaster in US history. The national medical system will be completely overwhelmed. Triage will be necessary on an long term basis. How many open hospital beds are there in the US? How many burn unit beds? Who has experience managing radiological casualties and Combined Injury Syndrome?

    Recommended Reading:

    Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute. (2013) Medical Management of Radiological Casualties. 4th Ed.
    https://www.usuhs.edu/sites/default/...rchandbook.pdf

    Conklin & Walker (ed). (1987) Military Radiobiology. 1st Ed.
    Military Radiobiology - ScienceDirect

    Koenig et al (2005) Medical Treatment of Radiological Casualties: Current Concepts. Annals of Emergency Medicine.
    Medical Treatment of Radiological Casualties: Current Concepts - ScienceDirect

    Gladstone & Dolan. (1977) The Effects of Nuclear Weapons.
    https://nnsa.energy.gov/sites/defaul...lan%201977.pdf
  8. by   SummitRN
    Quote from redreba
    CDC also released information about how to stay save in a zombie apocalypse. Sorry, but just more fear porn from the FEDS if you ask me.
    The purpose of the Zombie Apocalypse example was as a lighthearted case model that offered lessons and planning applicable to real outbreaks and public health emergencies. It was not meant to be scary.

    Nuclear bombs are meant to be scary; that is literally why they exist: deterrence.
  9. by   aquakenn
    "Duck and cover!"
  10. by   aquakenn
    God forbid a nuclear attack, BUT if there was, I doubt anyone would survive. Once one missle is launched, there will be several more to follow. Not only would the earth be covered in radiation, it would be covered. These nuclear weapons would kick up so much dust, debris, cars, buildings, cars, etc, that the "clouds" created by the bombs would take several months, if not years, to dissipate. The cloud would be so thick, that the sun would be blocked. This would lead to extreme cold and a freezing over the planet. Thus, the beginning of a new ice age. Also, people seeking underground shelter would be trapped and die of loss of oxygen.
  11. by   SummitRN
    Quote from aquakenn
    God forbid a nuclear attack, BUT if there was, I doubt anyone would survive. Once one missle is launched, there will be several more to follow. Not only would the earth be covered in radiation, it would be covered. These nuclear weapons would kick up so much dust, debris, cars, buildings, cars, etc, that the "clouds" created by the bombs would take several months, if not years, to dissipate. The cloud would be so thick, that the sun would be blocked. This would lead to extreme cold and a freezing over the planet. Thus, the beginning of a new ice age. Also, people seeking underground shelter would be trapped and die of loss of oxygen.
    No no no
    Wrong
    Incorrect

    Nothing you said matches reality, not even at the peak of the unfounded nuclear winter hysteria when arsenals were 10s of thousands of multimegaton weapons on each side of NATO/WarPac.

    I could go on at length, but the 1983 TTAPS model was too simplified to draw real conclusions and instead was a politically motivated study aimed at pushing an arms control agenda. A total exchange back then might have reached the equivalent of "the year without a summer" caused by Mt Tambora in 1816 (VEI7).

    A current NATO/Russia total exchange would involve <3000 weapons almost all much less than a megaton. It would only compete with a mild volcanic winter say Pinatubo (1991 VEI6) or Krakatoa (1886 VEI6). It would disrupt food production (as would the infrastructure interruptions). While a total exchange would be the worst cataclysm in recorded history and would end some national societies as we know them, it wouldn't end civilization much less human existence.

    OK... one thing probably matches reality: an exchange between two nation states tends toward a total exchange between those states. However, with a smaller arsenal, say NK, unlikely to see more than a handful of nuclear detonations in an exchange with the US, probably with only single digits (or 1) in the continental US.

    The takeaway here is that preparing for and responding to a single nuclear explosion is worth considering whether the cause is terrorism, accident, or the single successful strike of a small arsenal nation state.
    Last edit by SummitRN on Jan 10
  12. by   SummitRN
    Once more thing: RADIATION

    Radiation from nuclear bombs comes in two forms: prompt and delayed (including fallout).

    Prompt radiation is released during the nuclear explosion and can injure/kill those who are saved from the blast/heat by shelter (mostly gamma and neutron radiation). If you aren't close to the explosion, it will not kill.

    Delayed radiation (including fallout) is radioisotopes (unstable atoms) created during the explosion. These particles settle out from the mushroom cloud (fallout or rainout), get on/in/near a person, undergo radioactive decay and impart ionizing radiation on the person. However, fallout only happens when a nuke is set off near the ground (ground burst) and sucks up neutron activated dust. Ground bursts are only done to eliminate missile silos/bunker or in a terrorist attack delivered by truck. The reason is that a ground burst is less effective against a city.

    The horror is that air burst nuclear weapons are much more effective at killing cities... but these attacks leave little fallout after a few days. Remember, Japan and the Allied occupation forces started rebuilding and safely inhabiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki just weeks after they were destroyed.
  13. by   traumaRUs
    Anyone who has visited the Memorials at Hiroshima and Nagasaki know to be very afraid.
  14. by   areensee
    This is what happens when you have a leader who is desperately looking for distraction and will use every channel in the federal government to do it! Do you think if a nuclear bomb falls, it will be only one? We would retaliate, which means China and possibly Russia would retaliate against us. We're talking nuclear holocaust . . . not a survivable event.

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