2011 Homeland Security Recipient: Preparing for the Unthinkable

Uploaded by USOPM on 28.09.2011

Radiation is very frightening. What makes radiation so challenging is that you can’t
see it, you can’t smell it, you can’t feel it.
I was asked to help put together, a radiation response plan for the United States. When
I came here, I learned that really very little had been done and it was one of these offers
you couldn’t refuse. I was really glad to have the opportunity to link all my experience
in science and medicine with my interest in human service.
The Radiation Research Program of the National Cancer Institute is responsible for all the
radiation research programs in the United States.
Following 9/11, we realized that, we should try to organize what the Radiation Research
Program could bring to emergency response. So, what we did is take this very complex
problem from what radiation does to people and put it into a complex system where we
work with what radiation does to people, how do you organize a response, how do you get
the right people at the right place at the right time.
Our preparation for a radiologic nuclear incident was to take the most difficult incident - subsume
the less complicated problems. The preparation and planning we’re doing is really a constant
work in progress…we have plans. We have some initial medical countermeasures. We have
algorithms in which to do response. We now have the ability to actually triage people.
We look at that as really the first layer of what we have to do. Now we try to build
up the science and the products you need to bring this to the next level.
We have a product we call Radiation Emergency Medical Management,…by which a planner or
responder with very little preparation could actually manage a nuclear incident. We call
this the just in time information. You could see how valuable it was when the
Japan incident came along. Because of all the planning and preparation we had done,
we were able to settle right in and understand what it is we had to do.
There was a great deal of confidence in the information we were sharing. You can see if
something happened in the United States, you know, you’re never perfectly ready, but
we could certainly begin to address almost any kind of incidents we could face.
I must say that of all the things I’ve done in my life, service for others is really what
matters most. The rewards are tremendous. I mean, just, just coming to work and realizing
that, what you’ve done today matters. It’s hard to have a, a bigger reward in life than