New IAEA Web Site Offers Help for First Responders

When an emergency hits, the first people on the scene - called "First Responders" - are local services, including medical, law enforcement, and fire brigades. They have important roles in the early response to a radiological or other kind of emergency. What they do in the first few hours can save lives.

Through new web pages and a series of publications, the IAEA Department of Nuclear Safety and Security is issuing guidance to emergency response teams that could be called to the front lines of a nuclear or radiological incident or accident, and for national officials backing-up the early response.

"Responders generally have no experience with radiation emergencies as they are very rare", says Warren Stern, who heads the IAEA´s Incident & Emergency Centre (IEC). "They can benefit a lot from practical guidance about what’s known about radiation, and how to deal with accidents and incidents involving nuclear or radioactive materials."

The new web pages and reports cover different types of emergencies. They include uncontrolled dangerous radioactive sources; misuse of dangerous industrial and medical sources; public exposures and contamination from unknown origins; serious overexposures; malicious threats/acts; and transport emergencies. Guidance includes helping first responders to determine the existence of or extent of a radiological emergency, and to take the corresponding correct actions for protecting people and the environment.