Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Is There a Plan for Radiological Events?

As of today, there continues to be no threat of radiological contamination here in the Pacific Northwest related to the earthquake in Japan and subsequent activities at their nuclear facilities; however, questions continue to be phoned, emailed, tweeted into CRESA and posted on news articles over on the Columbian's website

We welcome this continued conversation as it allows us to share additional information which is important for you to know so that you can be better prepared.

Today's Question of the Day is.....

Does Clark County Have an Emergency Plan to Deal With This Type of Crisis?

Clark County has a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) which governs how we respond to any type of emergency situation.  We have created this plan in conjunction with many of our planning partners and it addresses the coordinating agencies and general process for how key decisions are made when emergencies occur. 

On health-specific situations, the Clark County Public Health department has created a more specific public health emergency plan because health emergency situation are often slower-developing and involve additional laws beyond RCW 38.52 (which is the law which pertains to most emergency situations) 

In 2007, CRESA, Clark County Public Health and many of our regional partners participated in the national TOPOFF exercise which involved a radiological explosive device.  We practiced with the Washington State Department of Health, who maintains jurisdiction on radiological incidents, and provides expertise on community protective actions recommended during these types of hazards.  While there is no radiological threat today, we would expect to work very closely with the Department of Health for this and any similar type of hazard.

What Would You Expect to See Happen During a Radiological Hazard Situation?
  • Atmospheric Monitoring occurs by the State Department of Health (this is occurring now).
  • Monitoring provides data that suggests there is a possible threat to human health.
  • State Health Departments notify Local Health Departments & Emergency Management agencies.
  • State and/or CDC provide protective action guidelines for the general public.
  • Local Public Health and Emergency Management agencies work with stakeholders to conduct notifications to policy officials and community and implement any recommendations or guidelines.
  • Depending on the nature of the missions & personnel need to complete key tasks, Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) may be activated to coordinate these issues. 
Where Are We At Right Now?
Atmospheric Monitoring is underway.  And, to date, there is no evidence to believe that a local threat exists in this situation. 

We want to echo yesterday's reminder about stockpiling Potassium Iodide (KI): The Clark County Public Health Department has shared that the use of Potassium Iodide IS NOT recommended for people in Washington at this time because there is no risk.  Potassium Iodide can be harmful to pregnant women, women who are breast-feeding and persons with kidney disease.

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