The aim of this publication is to serve as a practical resource for planning the medical response to a nuclear or radiological emergency. It fulfils in part functions assigned to the IAEA under Article 5.a(ii) of the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency (Assistance Convention), namely, to collect and disseminate to States Parties and Member States information concerning methodologies, techniques and available results of research relating to such emergencies.Effective medical response is a necessary component of the overall response to nuclear or radiological (radiation) emergencies. In general, the medical response may represent a difficult challenge for the authorities due to the complexity of the situation, often requiring specialized expertise, and special organizational arrangements and materials. To be effective, adequate planning and preparedness are needed.
In March 2002, the IAEA’s Board of Governors approved a Safety Requirements publication Preparedness and Response for a Nuclear or Radiological Emergency, jointly sponsored by seven international organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), which establishes the requirements for an adequate level of preparedness and response for a nuclear or radiological emergency in any State. The Safety Requirements state, inter alia, that “…arrangements shall be made for medical personnel…to be made aware of the medical symptoms of radiation exposure and of the appropriate notification procedures and other immediate actions warranted if a nuclear or radiological emergency is suspected.” [para 4.77]. In 2004, the IAEA General Conference, in resolution GC(48)/RES/10, encouraged Member States to “implement the Safety Requirements for Preparedness and Response to a Nuclear or Radiological Emergency”.The 2003 General Conference in resolution GC(47)/RES/7 encouraged Member States to “adopt IAEA standards, procedures and systems developed as part of international cooperation” and to “…contribute to the international efforts to develop a consistent, coherent and sustainable joint programme for improved and more efficient international response to nuclear and radiological emergencies…”. This manual, if implemented, should help to contribute to coherent international response. The manual provides the practical tools and generic procedures for use by emergency medical personnel during an emergency situation. It also provides guidance to be used at the stage ofpreparedness for development of medical response capabilities.
The manual also addresses mass casualty emergencies resulting from malicious acts involving radioactive material. This part was supported by the Nuclear Security Fund. The manual was developed based on a number of assumptions about national and local capabilities. Therefore, it must be reviewed and revised as part of the planning process to match the potential accidents, threats, localconditions and other unique characteristics of the facility where it may be used. The IAEA wishes to acknowledge the contribution of the WHO, which is co-sponsoring this publication. The IAEA officer responsible for this publication was E. Buglova of the Division of Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety, Department of Nuclear Safety and Security.