Members of Monongalia County Health Department’s Threat Preparedness program work to protect area residents from the harmful effects of substances known by the acronym CBRN — Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear.
Radiation is used medically in X-rays and to diagnose and treat some conditions. It's also used in places that some might not expect, such as in household products such as smoke detectors, and in heavy industry to measure underground wells or pipelines. These devices are transported via area roadways that all citizens use.
Radiation can harm humans if it becomes uncontrolled or is used improperly. Members of Monongalia County Health Department’s Radiation Response Team have undergone and continue to take training to learn how to conduct surveillance and detect different types of radiation in a variety of situations to help keep our community safe, as well as to respond to incidents that may occur. That includes learning how to treat radiation injuries in a network that includes WVU Medicine.
The Radiation Response Team also works with other partners to prepare for potential radiation emergencies, such as an event at a nuclear power plant or a lost/missing radiation source. The team continually works to build capability to support the response to those types of activities. This includes generating data that allows for mapping and making decisions about how to deal with potentially dangerous items.
The Radiation Response Team in action: Monongalia County Health Department staff members, along with other community radiation responders, attend West Virginia University football games and other large-scale events to perform surveillance and to detect any radiation that may be on-site.
MCHD Threat Preparedness staff members also have participated in community radiation response drills, including one with West Virginia University in May 2019 involving a scenario on WVU’s PRT.
Team members have undergone training through a variety of institutions. These include:
- The Counter Terrorism Operations Support (CTOS) of the Center for Radiological/Nuclear Training in Nevada;
- The Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; the National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland;
- The Transportation Emergency Preparedness Program
- Also, team members have taken additional training to learn how to combat chemical and biological attacks at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick, Maryland.
Monongalia County Health Department has built a collection of radiation detection devices to help carry out the duties of the Radiation Response Team. They include:
- Thermo Scientific RadEye Personal Radiation Detectors — Detects radiation and monitors total dose when worn on an individual.
- Ludlum 26-1 and 26-3 Friskers — Locates radioactive contamination on individuals and objects.
- FLIR R425 identiFINDER — Locates radioactive sources and identifies specific radioactive isotopes.
- Portal Monitors — Scans individuals or vehicles that go through portal for radioactive sources or contamination.
MCHD’s Threat Preparedness program also houses the West Virginia Northern Radiation Response Team. We have a team of radiation specialists that can respond to incidents to assess and mitigate the radiation hazard as well as provide subject matter expertise and recommendations to responders as well as the public. Click here to find radiological data gathered by United States government agencies.
The photos below show members of the MCHD Radiation Response Team participating in a multi-agency drill at the West Virginia University PRT in May 2019.
Radiation Training Guide