Secondary Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

How Prepared Are the Public and Responders for Nuclear Terrorism?

Buddemeier, Brooke*; Levin, Robert; Musolino, Stephen, V.; Pasquale, David§; Schoch-Spana, Monica**

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000747

The theme of the 2017 Annual Meeting of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements was “Assessment of National Efforts in Emergency Preparedness for Nuclear Terrorism: Is There a Need for Realignment to Close Remaining Gaps?” In the “Guidance, Training and Exercises: Emergency Responders” session, speakers explored our level of public and responder preparedness and the challenges to being adequately prepared. There were three themes expressed from the perspective of emergency responders. The federal government is effective at creating guidance and a systematic preparedness process but not so effective at engaging and implementing guidance and processes at the state and local level for technical hazards like radiation. Second, preparedness at the local level is driven by local leadership and champions who see the problem through a “different lens.” These champions often have to overcome significant institutional, political, and social barriers associated with preparing for radiological events. Finally, there is a limit to the amount of general preparedness and public information that can be absorbed in the absence of a perceived threat. Occasionally, events lead to a heightened concern that offers a window of opportunity for a “learning moment.”

*Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, P.O. Box 808, Livermore, CA 94551‐0808; †Ventura County Public Health, 2240 East Gonzales Road, Oxnard, CA. 93036; ‡Brookhaven National Laboratory, Nonproliferation and National Security Department, P.O. Box 5000, Upton, NY 11973‐5000; §Counter Terrorism Operations Support, M/S NLV 128, P.O. Box 98521, Las Vegas, NV 89193‐8521; **Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Health Security, 621 East Pratt Street, Suite 210, Baltimore, MD 21202‐3143.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contact: Stephen V. Musolino, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Nonproliferation and National Security Department, P.O. Box 5000, Upton, NY 11973‐5000, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 10 August 2017)

© 2018 by the Health Physics Society