An article in the Mar 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine asks “Are We Prepared for Nuclear Terrorism?” The answer is obviously “no,” states Physicians for Civil Defense president Jane M. Orient, M.D. “But the article will only make the perilous situation worse.”
“For decades, NEJM has been opposing life-saving preparedness for a nuclear attack, coupled with opposition to American weapons systems,” Dr. Orient recalls. “This article appears to be inspired by the Trump Administration’s plans to upgrade the U.S. arsenal. The sentence ‘Russia is taking parallel steps to increase its nuclear attack capabilities’ obscures the reality that those steps are evidently in the deployment, not the planning phase.”
What Do You Do During Nuclear Event?
In contrast, the use of nuclear weapons could cause many thousands or millions of direct casualties. “Planning a medical response to an attack with weapons like these is futile,” the authors write. Such an attack is “not properly defined as terrorism,” they state, and is thus beyond the scope of preparedness. While advocating “prevention,” they neglect any mention of measures that could prevent millions of casualties in a nuclear explosion, Dr. Orient observes, the most important being, “If you see a bright flash, drop and cover.”
The NEJM authors mention that in the event of an incident, “exposed persons will almost certainly not have monitoring devices.” The medical community needs to ask why that is, Dr. Orient states.
“In the 1990s, the federal government discarded millions of dollars’ worth of instruments that state emergency managers maintained during the Cold War, and did not replace them,” she notes. “Much better technology exists, available from private sources, but is not widely deployed because of government and public apathy.”
Preparedness for nuclear terrorism is a self-help endeavor in the U.S.
“Preparedness for nuclear terrorism or war is a self-help endeavor in the U.S.,” Dr. Orient warns. “And the most prestigious mouthpieces of the medical profession are partly responsible for this appalling lack of concern for American lives.”
Physicians for Civil Defense distributes information to help to save lives in the event of war or other disaster.
SOURCE Physicians for Civil Defense