It is always a good time to practice preparedness by taking precautionary measures to plan for possible emergencies. September is National Preparedness Month, a time for us all to rededicate ourselves to this important principle. It is also an opportunity to highlight a few of the many dedicated, highly-trained members of the Department of Energy (DOE) and NNSA who make their living expecting the unexpected.
Meet John Crapo, Deputy Program Manager, Consequence Management Program, Office of Nuclear Incident Response.
How do you support DOE/NNSA emergency operations?
I am an Emergency Response Officer within the Office of Nuclear Incident Response, providing operational coordination for assets and capabilities activated or deployed in response to a nuclear or radiological incident. This duty normally lasts for one week, and for that period, I am on-call 24/7.
I also serve as a Federal Team Leader for our Radiological Assistance Program teams. As team lead, I provide radiological assessment support in a nuclear or radiological incident in the mid- and northern-Atlantic region of the United States. As with the Emergency Response Officer position, this duty typically lasts for one week, where I am on-call 24/7. This team is also activated/deployed in support of public safety efforts surrounding large, high-visibility events where the Office of Nuclear Incident Response has been asked to conduct preventive radiological/nuclear detection operations.
My team and I recently supported two big Washington, D.C., events: the President’s State of the Union Address to Congress and the July 4th celebration on the National Mall.
What do your day-to-day duties entail?
Day-to-day duties include governance and organizational alignment, resource management, performance management, and risk management. These responsibilities support the program’s mission to provide timely, scientifically-defensible, and timely decision support to inform guidance on protection of the public, responders, and the environment in a nuclear or radiological incident.
What is a common mistake or misperception people have about emergency preparedness?
To assume that response and recovery is someone else’s job and there is nothing that the general public can contribute. My office certainly has expertise in managing the consequences of a radiological or nuclear incident. But a population that is educated on the potential consequences of a radiological incident and what they can do to protect themselves will help the response and recovery efforts significantly.
What is one key item would you advise the public to keep in mind when it comes to emergency preparedness?
Preparedness is a process, not a state. Maintain awareness of what you can and should do before an emergency to minimize or mitigate any impacts once it occurs. This is particularly important for infrequent events that could result in high consequences.