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IAEA School of Radiation Emergency Management Enhances Preparation and Readiness in Latin America

Response staff of the Hospital Naval de Veracruz demonstrating the procedures for the reception, triage and monitoring of contaminated patients. (Photo: P. Vilar Welter/IAEA)

Participants in the IAEA’s second School of Emergency Management in Latin America said the three-week course equipped them with knowledge and skills that will enable them to strengthen emergency management arrangements in their countries.

Annaye del Carmen Carrizo Aguilera, Legal Advisor at the Venezuelan Ministry of Electric Energy, one of the 39 participants from 15 Latin American countries, said the course improved her understanding of emergency preparedness and response (EPR) and equipped her to better manage nuclear and radiological emergencies.

“Working with colleagues from neighbouring countries helped us understand other  countries’ response arrangements better, and how we can assist each other in case of an emergency," she said.

The School, held from 8 to 26 May 2017 in Mexico City, was designed by the IAEA's Incident and Emergency Centre in collaboration with nuclear and radiological EPR experts of various Member States. Based on IAEA safety standards and guidelines, the School featured topics such as emergency management systems, protective actions, emergency public information and training programmes. Practical exercises and drills, based on nuclear and radiological emergency scenarios, complemented class-room teaching.

Participants also learned about Mexico’s nuclear and radiological EPR arrangements by visiting the National Institute for Nuclear Research, the Laguna Verde Nuclear Power Plant and its EPR-related centres, as well as the Hospital Naval de Veracruz. The Government of Mexico, through its National Commission of Nuclear Safety and Safeguards, supported the School.

As their final assignment, participants elaborated national draft action plans for emergency management to be delivered and approved by their national authorities.

"The School was helpful to structure my knowledge on nuclear and radiological EPR,” said participant Luis Alejandro Zapata Arias, Radiation Protection Officer at the Peruvian Institute for Nuclear Energy. “This School will help Peru in making a qualitative and quantitative improvement in this area."

Participant Allan Gerardo Morun Vega, a firefighter in Costa Rica, said the School helped him understand the procedures and criteria for initial responses, something that he said would help him and his colleagues better protect the public and workers.

“As firefighters, our biggest challenge is the lack of knowledge in the area of nuclear and radiological response, especially if it creates anxiety during the response,” he said.

The School formed part of the IAEA’s work to help Member States to build capacity in nuclear and radiological EPR. 

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The school was supported with funding by the European Union and the IAEA.