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IAEA Holds Schools of Radiation Emergency Management in Europe, Africa and North America

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During the IAEA School of Radiation Emergency Management participants practise with radiation detection equipment during field exercises. (Photo: A. Geosev)

Before the end of the year, nuclear and radiological emergency preparedness and response (EPR) professionals on three continents will strengthen their skills during IAEA Schools of Radiation Emergency Management.

The two-to-three-week schools strengthen national, regional and international capacity to respond to nuclear and radiological incidents and emergencies. They focus on how to implement arrangements under the international framework of treaties and safety standards that define effective responses to nuclear and radiological emergencies. The IAEA holds on average three Schools a year since the Schools were launched in 2015. In 2017, 147 participants from 87 countries participated in theoretical and practical training.

From 8 to 25 October 2018, a School was held in Tulln, Austria. The School, hosted by the IAEA and the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior, provided 21 EPR professionals from 14 European countries training and instruction in best practices.

Thereafter from 5 to 16 November, the School will convene for African countries in Rabat, Morocco, and the School for Caribbean countries will be held from 26 November to 7 December in Texas, USA.

Each School features lectures, practical exercises, field visits, group work and knowledge sharing sessions. The skills development sessions include the use of radiation detectors, personal protective equipment, public communication in emergencies and the implementation and evaluation of exercises.

During the School in Tulln, participants visited a local emergency operations centre, medical emergency facilities, and the fully equipped Zwentendorf nuclear training power plant.

“This course is a big opportunity for us as a small country to meet so many people having different backgrounds, having different experience and having such expertise. Having lectures in such an environment is very inspirational”, said Edward Gruppetta of the Radiation Protection & Safety Unit at the Mater Dei Hospital in Malta and President of the Malta Red Cross.

The School is held in cooperation with the Civil Protection School of the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior, which is designated by the IAEA as a Capacity Building Centre for EPR. With over 60 years of experience, its main task is to train police officers and decision makers in radiation protection at regional and federal levels in Austria. Such Centres are hubs for EPR training for local, national and international participants.

“As a Capacity Building Centre, we see it as our responsibility to share the knowledge that we gained through 60 years of radiation protection training on the national level,” said Stefan Schoenhacker, course director and member of the Civil Protection Training Unit of the BMI. “On the other hand, we also learn from the experience that the participants share with us, so it is really a win-win situation.”

Phillip Vilar Welter, IAEA Emergency Preparedness Officer, who coordinates the schools, said their curricula are based on IAEA safety standards and technical guidelines and reflect up-to-date knowledge.

The Schools, developed by the IAEA Incident and Emergency Centre with the help of international experts in nuclear and radiological emergency preparedness and response, are implemented through IAEA Technical Cooperation projects that aim to enhance IAEA Member States' capabilities to prepare for and respond to radiation emergencies.

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