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Radiological/Nuclear Human Monitoring Tabletop Exercise

Recommendations and Lessons Identified

Chauhan, Vinita*; Duncan, Devin; Wilkins, Ruth C.*

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000678
Operational Topic

Health Canada is the lead department for coordinating the federal response to a Canadian nuclear emergency event. The framework to manage a radiological consequence is outlined in the Federal Nuclear Emergency Plan (FNEP). In 2014, a full scale exercise (FSX) was held to test the capacity of the federal government to handle a nuclear facility emergency disaster in Canada. The FSX provided a means to demonstrate the integration of various departments and agencies in response to such an event, and although a number of task teams within FNEP were tested, the capacity to monitor humans for exposure post-event was not played out fully. To address this, a table top exercise (TTX) was held in 2015 that brought together experts from human monitoring groups (HMGs) in partnership with Provincial and Municipal emergency response organizations. The TTX took the form of a facilitated discussion centered around two types of radiological/nuclear (RN) emergency scenarios that commenced post-release. The purpose of the exercise was to integrate these communities and identify knowledge gaps in policies and concepts of operations pertaining to the human monitoring aspects of RN events including biodosimetry, bioassay, portal monitors, whole body counting, and the provision of personal dosimetry. It also tested the interoperability between first responders/receivers and Federal, Provincial, and Municipal emergency response organizations. The end outcome was the identification of clear knowledge gaps in existing and newly developed concepts of operation in the human population monitoring response to an RN emergency in Canada; these and possible recommendations are captured in this report.

*Consumer and Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau, Healthy Environment and Consumer Safety Branch, Health Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0K9; † International Safety Research, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K2E 7J6.

Ruth Wilkins earned a Doctor of Philosophy in medical physics from the Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, in 1996, after which she joined the Consumer and Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau, Health Canada, as a Research Scientist. Since 2006, she has been the Division Chief of the Radiobiology Division at Health Canada. Her research involves the biological effects of ionizing radiation in mammalian systems both in vitro and in vivo with a strong focus on cytogenetic biological dosimetry. She is currently the lead of the Canadian Biodosimetry Network for large scale exposures to ionizing radiation in which Canada has developed a network of laboratories which can provide rapid dosimetry during large scale events. Her current research interests include the development of new, higher throughput methods for biological dosimetry. Her email is

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