What Hospitals Need in Order to Treat
Nuclear Attack Survivors
The possibility of a terrorist-perpetrated nuclear attack has become a real threat. This has undoubtedly produced various levels of anxiety in all of us. The best way to overcome worry is to trust the Almighty and prepare as best we can. For those who do not survive an attack if it happens, being prepared will obviously not make any difference. For those of us who do survive, a little knowledge will save lives.
With regard to available treatment of and protection against radiation exposure, there are two possible outcomes of a nuclear event: there is no hospital within reach or there is an intact hospital nearby. The former, requiring total self-reliance with home readiness and knowledge of first aid, is beyond the scope of this book. The latter is the focus of this chapter.
The hospital building should be the chief feature of a new disaster plan to prepare for the aftermath of a nuclear attack. First, the planners need to assume that a nuclear blast will likely wipe out communications (including cell phones). Therefore, the hospital should install satellite communication equipment to ensure continuous contact with government authorities, emergency response agencies, and other hospitals.
Second, there is a strong likelihood that there would be no electrical power even if you were a relatively safe distance from ground zero. Every hospital must have electrical generators to provide independent and uninterrupted power. The standard is to have two generators that automatically kick in within thirty seconds of a power outage. Since most such generators are engines running on diesel fuel or gasoline, the important question is, "How long will the current fuel supply last?" Accordingly, the hospital plan also needs to designate a team from the maintenance crew who would look for and identify a source of additional fuel in case of an emergency.
Finally, if you are within driving distance of ground zero, chances are that your hospital is within range of the radioactive fallout. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the hospital executives to plan for sealing off the building and decontaminating the roof and surrounding surfaces, such as the parking lot or garage, walkways, and landscape. The maintenance people would accomplish this with high-pressure hoses. The plan should also call for the cleanup crew to remove the top layer of soil from the unpaved areas. The hospital should also have radioactivity rate meters available to measure radiation.