The Role of Occupational Health Nurses in Terrorist Attacks Employing Radiological Dispersal Devices

Source: Suzanne Lobaton Cabrera and Randal D. Beaton, AAOHN Journal, online advanced release, February 2009
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The potential for biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear terrorism has been widely acknowledged since the events of September 11, 2001. Terrorists’ use of a radiological dispersal device (RDD), or dirty bomb, is considered to be a threat for which Americans must prepare. Occupational health nurses must have the knowledge and skill set to plan for, respond to, and recover from a radiologic event potentially affecting significant numbers of first responders as well as businesses and their workers. This article describes the hazards related to RDDs and provides resources supporting occupational health nurses’ roles in such events occurring near or at their workplaces. Occupational health nurses are prepared to assess and treat RDD causalities using current information to identify signs and symptoms of exposed and contaminated RDD victims. Decontamination, treatment, and recovery methods for workers and businesses affected by an RDD event are described.

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