At the beginning of this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revised and released the 2017 edition of the Protective Action Guide (PAG) Manual, which aids public officials in preparing an emergency response plan for radiological outbreaks or attacks. Originally developed in 2016, the PAG Manual: Protective Action Guides and Planning Guidance for Radiological Incidents provides recommendations and guidance during a radiological emergency. The manual contains protective actions that ensure public safety and inhibit exposure to any radiation.
To further assist during radiological incidents, EPA has recently published two companion documents in conjunction with the PAG Manual that additionally instruct public officials how to communicate safety information when its needed most. While the PAG Manual contains radiation dose guidelines that initiate public health safety measures, these new EPA companion documents support quick and clear communications to the effected public. The Protective Action Area Map Templates help communicate easily updated and accessible emergency information such as evacuation areas, “get inside” areas, food and/or drinking water guidance, and safety advice. The four templates and associated messaging were devised to be personalized to each circumstance, community, and specific geographical area. Each template includes:
- Space to insert a map that highlights the area where an action is needed
- Space to insert a state or local agency logo and contact information
- Tested and pre-approved messages that convey quickly and clearly the action needed
The Protective Action Questions & Answers for Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies: A Companion Document to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Action Guide (PAG) helps to eliminate confusion when protective actions guidelines are implemented by public information officers. Created to be used prior to or during a radiological emergency, this publication presents pre-scripted questions and answers to issues that might arise when preparing a public safety messages. As stated in the document, “Ideally, these messages never will be needed; nevertheless, we have a responsibility to be prepared to empower the public by effectively communicating how people can protect themselves and their families in the event of a radiological or nuclear emergency.”
These resources are essential for quick and critical communication to large audiences in the event of a radiological event. More information about EPA’s new emergency communication tools can be found here or at the Homeland Security Digital Library (some resources may require login).