Resources » The Status of State-level Radiation Emergency Preparedness and Response Capabilities, 2010

Public health preparedness activities have often focused on detection, identification, and response to the intentional release of microbial agents of human disease. Local and state health agencies are less experienced with non-microbial agents, such as chemical and radiologic threats. Nevertheless, these agencies are expected to be fully prepared for and capable of detecting, identifying, and responding to all of these divergent threats under an all-hazard approach to public health preparedness. To reassess the national status related to radiation public health emergency preparedness capabilities at the state and local health department levels, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) conducted a web-based survey in the summer of 2010, which was sent to state epidemiologists in all 50 states. States with nuclear power plants were instructed to consider their responses exclusive of capabilities and resources related to the plants given that the emergency response plans for nuclear power plants are specific and unique to the type of radiation emergency that would occur there. Thirty-eight (76%) states responded to the survey, including 26 of the 31 states with nuclear power plants. Results of this assessment indicate that in most measures of public health capacity and capability, states are poorly prepared to adequately respond to a major radiation emergency event.