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Contact: President Brooke Buddemeier

Training Working Group

Radiological/nuclear emergency training materials for:

Health physicists
Media and the public Trainer

The Training Working Group members are:

Chair, to be determined
Mutty Sharfi, CHP
Ruth McBurney, CRCPD
John Hageman, CHP

Health Physicists

There are several avenues for health physicists who would like to volunteer their time to support the homeland security effort.

First, some advice:

Have patience and tenacity
Just because you want to help and are willing to donate your time, there is no guarantee that your expertise will be recognized by the first-responder community. You will have to work hard to develop a relationship with your local, state, and/or federal responder training coordinators.

Don't reinvent the wheel
High-quality, multimedia-rich training materials designed for first responders are available for your use. You won't find most of it on the Web, but it is available after taking free Train the Trainer classes.

Speak their language
First responders have a language all their own. Understanding their organization and response architecture will make your training much more effective. A course in Incident Management and Response can help here. Another useful document is the FEMA Emergency Responder Field Operations Guide.

Do your homework
If you don't know the local, county, and state radiological response organization, then any instruction you give would be missing a key element. See your state point of contact to get local radiological response program information. You should always be asking how you can integrate in the training programs that already exist in each state.

Radiological emergency response is NOT routine health physics
Do not confuse radiological emergency response with operational/regulatory health physics. Responders need training in order to safely and effectively manage a radiological emergency.

Overly conservative health physics advice and training may result in additional casualties as medical treatment is delayed. This is why most institutional radiation safety training is inappropriate for emergency responders as it focuses on regulatory limits and issues.

How to get involved:

  • Radiation Technical Assistance Making an Impact Locally (2.43 MB ppt) is a presentation that can be used by local HPS chapters to brief their volunteers on the aspects of getting involved in local efforts to assist their local response organizations in radiation response efforts. Local HPS chapters may also want to engage the state and local response organizations and research the outreach efforts currently being conducted for response agencies.
  • The Department of Energy's Transportation Emergency Preparedness Program (TEPP) offers nationwide training for first responders. High quality training materials are available to health physicists willing to take a Train the Trainer class.
  • High school teacher education is another great way to get involved in the community (and train tomorrow's responders).
  • For more ideas and training material, have a look at the University of Montana HP Web page training page.

RespondersFirst Responders

  • Firefighters
  • Law enforcement
  • Coast Guard
  • Hospital emergency department staff
  • U.S. Customs
  • Border Patrol
  • Others who may respond to a radiological emergency and are interested in quality training

Who are we? Medical Responders

The Health Physics Society (HPS) is a scientific and professional organization whose members specialize in occupational and environmental radiation safety. The primary purpose of the Society is to support its members in the practice of their profession. The Society also promotes public information preparation and dissemination, education and training opportunities, and scientific information exchange through conferences and meetings, posting current news items, and conducting a program to Accredit Radiation Instrumentation Calibration Laboratories.

Click here to see the Society Code of Ethics.

Important considerations when selecting radiological/nuclear training Transportation Emergency

  • Excellent radiological training programs exist both in the government and private sectors.
  • Many of these programs are offered locally at little or no cost.
  • Free local training, support, and advice might be found from a nearby HPS volunteer.
  • A knowledgeable instructor is key to effective radiological training.
  • Don't focus only on WMD training; the principles from standard radiological emergency response training still apply.

Training links and suggestions

Media and the Public

For decades, ionizing radiation has been beneficial to human beings in areas ranging from medical diagnosis and therapy to scientific research to generating electrical power. However, when used in large quantities or in unsafe ways, ionizing radiation can harm living organisms. Care must be taken to properly use equipment and to minimize the potential for unnecessary radiation exposure to individuals or environmental contamination in medical, research, or power-generation activities.

The health physicist is prominent among scientists charged with controlling the beneficial use of ionizing radiation while protecting workers and the public from potential hazards. The Health Physics Society is dedicated to ensuring that health physicists have the necessary information and capabilities to accomplish this mission.

In addition to professional support, the Health Physics Society is dedicated to providing technical information and assistance to the public and media to ensure understanding of the scientific principles and objectives associated with the field of health physics. To accomplish this goal, the Society is active in government political and regulatory issues, public information and educational activities, media interactions, financial support of academic and training opportunities (scholarships, fellowships, travel grants, etc.), and information dissemination through publications (fact sheets).

The Resources page contains information and links for public and media use.