NNSA Conducts Two Radiation Medical Training Courses in South Africa

Press Release
Aug 30, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) are in South Africa conducting two International Medical Management of Radiation Injuries (I-MED) courses. The first course, held last week, was in Cape Town. The second course, held this week, is in Pretoria.

“Our partnership on emergency response with South Africa is a significant part of NNSA’s effort to improve nuclear security, prevent proliferation and support peaceful uses of nuclear energy around the world,” said NNSA Associate Administrator for Emergency Operations Joseph Krol. “South Africa is an important partner and this area of cooperation will assist the medical community in South Africa to be prepared to treat injured and contaminated patients in case of a radiological incident. This collaboration furthers our national and international efforts to improve emergency preparedness and response programs.”

NNSA instructed medical responders in treating injured contaminated patients. The courses were attended by physicians, nurses, hospital staff and other medical emergency response personnel from the private sector, regulatory bodies, and the military. Nearly 40 participants attended the course in Cape Town and 70 in Pretoria. An important aspect of these courses is the hands-on demonstrations requiring trainees to effectively contain radioactive particles while preparing patients for transport to a hospital for medical care.

As radiation-based technology finds its way into ever-increasing areas of use, it is imperative that the medical community is able to appropriately respond to accidents involving ionizing radiation. The training also prepares the medical response community to effectively respond to radiological terrorism. The courses are supported by personnel from the Oak Ridge Institute of Science and Education (ORISE). 

NNSA’s primary mission is to ensure the safety, security and reliability of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without underground nuclear testing. Because of this expertise, NNSA also provides nuclear emergency response support to local law enforcement, Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and emergency responders in other countries.

NNSA’s Office of Emergency Operations currently collaborates with more than 80 foreign governments and 10 international organizations with projects ranging from providing assistance to foreign governments in improving their emergency preparedness and response programs, to joint collaborative activities to improve emergency management infrastructure worldwide.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.