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Training First Responders to Prepare for a Potential Radiological Emergency in the Caribbean

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Participants work in teams during an exercise scenario at the IAEA regional training course for first responders held this week in Bridgetown, Barbados. (Photo: K. V. Glenn/IAEA)

Emergency preparedness and response for radiological emergencies is being strengthened in the Caribbean region, thanks to an IAEA regional training course for first responders held this week in Bridgetown, Barbados.

Local emergency service workers from fields such as law enforcement, medical response, and fire brigade will take part in the course, organized through the IAEA’s technical cooperation programme[1]. The participants’ professions mean that they typically are first responders in emergency situations, and need to know how to handle radiological emergencies. This includes the ability to assess radiological hazards and to respond correctly in situations involving potential radiation exposure. Members of regulatory authorities with roles in emergency preparedness and response will also take part in the course. Radiological emergencies are emergencies involving radioactive sources used in medicine, industry and other fields.

The training course will cover topics such as exposure pathways, the effects of radiation exposure, protective actions and lessons learned from past radiological emergencies. It will also focus on radiation monitoring and decontamination of the public, responders, vehicles and equipment. In addition, participants will learn about international public protection guidelines and how to process and register members of the public who may have been exposed to radiation.

“The participants all have experience in responding to emergencies but many have not had training for radiological incidents,” said Milan Dubravac, one of the expert lecturers for the course and Vice President of the International Association of Fire Services for Safer Citizens.  “Throughout this week, the participants will learn about the specialised equipment, processes and protective actions required in a radiological emergency”.

The course will also highlight other ways that IAEA supports Member States to enhance preparedness for radiological emergencies. Participants can share the knowledge from the course with other first responders in their own countries to strengthen emergency preparedness and response for radiological emergencies throughout the Caribbean.

[1] RLA0061 Supporting Human Resource Development and Implementation of Strategic Activities for Nuclear Technology and its Applications in the Caribbean Region

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