Planning for the First 72 Hours After a Nuclear Detonation


FEMA recently released Nuclear Detonation Response Guidance: ‘Planning for the First 72 Hours’, a guide to protect first responders and the public during the first minutes, hours, and days following a nuclear detonation. The guide is meant to be used by SLTT (state, local, tribal, and territorial) planners prior to an incident in order to prepare response plans and procedures in or near their jurisdiction. Focusing on the first 72 hours after a nuclear catastrophe allows planners to focus on developing strategies that will have the most impact on lifesaving efforts.

The guidance is organized into five missions and ten tactics:

  1. Protect responders and the public
    • Tactic 1: Immediately issue alert to get inside
  2. Gather information
    • Tactic 2: Characterize the impacts
    • Tactic 3: Develop a common operating picture
  3. Organize the response
    • Tactic 4: Initiate a zone-based response
    • Tactic 5: Establish area command
    • Tactic 6: Sustain critical infrastructure
  4. Provide care to survivors
    • Tactic 7: Evacuate
    • Tactic 8: Triage, stabilize, and transport
    • Tactic 9: Decontaminate
  5. Prepare for Intermediate Phase
    • Tactic 10: Transition to a prolonged response

This guide focuses on actions most jurisdictions can accomplish with the resources they already possess. They can use these resources to narrow down the most critical life-saving efforts needed immediately following a nuclear detonation. Additionally, FEMA suggests planners, along with experienced subject matter experts, host workshops to discuss plans and priorities in their own and surrounding jurisdictions.

For more information, check out documents on HSDL related to nuclear emergency response and nuclear disasters.


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