Study finds American medical system unprepared for a nuclear attack
12/30/2017 // Tracey Watson // Views

There is no doubt that the United States has dedicated, well-trained first responders who bravely risk their own lives when disaster strikes. We have only to view images of the tragic events of 9/11 to realize how brave these men and women truly are.

Nonetheless, a disturbing study by researchers from the University of Georgia recently found that the majority of U.S. first responders have received no training in how to deal with the aftereffects of a nuclear attack, and that many are so frightened of radiation that they would be unwilling to assist in the event of such a disaster.

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health.

News Wise reports that experts have warned that “a radiological or nuclear event is inevitable,” and as such, it is vitally important that emergency workers be trained and ready to deal with this when it happens.

The New Yorker recently warned that America’s relations with North Korea, which have never been particularly good, have been strained to breaking point in the past few months:

In the six years since Kim Jong Un assumed power, at the age of twenty-seven, he has tested eighty-four missiles—more than double the number that his father and grandfather tested. … On the Fourth of July, North Korea passed a major threshold: it launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile powerful enough to reach the mainland United States.

And, U.S. defense secretary, Jim Mattis, has warned that the threat of a nuclear attack by North Korea “is accelerating.” (Related: Intelligence insider says war with North Korea likely within weeks: This could be your final prepper warning.)


To test whether emergency personnel are prepared for such an eventuality, the research team surveyed over 400 first responders from across the U.S. and Asia. They wanted to determine two things:

1) Would emergency workers even be willing to show up at the site of a nuclear attack?

2) How prepared are they to handle this type of crisis?

Shockingly, more than 50 percent of the respondents admitted that they had never received any special training in how to deal with a nuclear crisis. As a result, many were poorly informed, for example, believing that the greatest need for treatment in the aftermath of a nuclear attack would be for thermal burns, when in reality, most injuries in this type of situation are lacerations.

This lack of knowledge would leave personnel ill-prepared and under-resourced in the event of a nuclear disaster.

Another disturbing truth revealed by the survey was that a nuclear bomb would make many respondents “unwilling to come to work.” Survey participants were more terrified of a nuclear disaster than any other crisis, including a chemical or biological disaster.

“I was not surprised that the responses from the emergency medical community were relatively poor in terms of knowledge and attitudes, because that’s what you get with radiation—myths versus reality,” said the study’s lead author, Professor Cham E. Dallas, director of the Institute for Disaster Management at UGA’s College of Public Health.

It is important that emergency medical personnel be taught that they can confidently respond in a nuclear crisis situation. Historically, responding to such events has not presented any risk to first responders.

The research team believes that medical personnel are afraid of nuclear events because humans tend to fear what they do not know, and these types of events are incredibly rare.

Professor Dallas also pointed out that Hollywood’s portrayal of such events adds to the myth that nothing can be done in the face of a nuclear disaster, when this is really not the truth.

Irrespective, the study has highlighted the urgent need for the first responders that we all rely on to be trained and ready to deal with what is increasingly looking like an inevitable nuclear disaster.

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