DOE NNSA-deployable asset provides 24/7 emergency medical response for radiation incidents anywhere in the world
WASHINGTON — The Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site (REAC/TS) celebrated its 40th anniversary on Thursday with a luncheon, panel discussion, and tours of its Oak Ridge facility, which originally opened its doors in July 1976. Director of NNSA’s Consequence Management Program, Dr. Dan Blumenthal, spoke at the event.
As part of the luncheon, Roger Cloutier, Jack Beck, and Jim Berger, who were pivotal in the establishment of the facility, participated in a panel discussion. They addressed questions regarding how REAC/TS was conceived, how it has supported medical response for major radiation accidents and incidents through the years, such as Chernobyl (1986), Goiania, Brazil (1987), and Fukushima (2011), and how it continues to provide one-on-one consultation to calls from the general public.
“REAC/TS supports the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration to strengthen medical response to radiation emergencies; during the past 40 years, REAC/TS staff have been on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide direct medical care or consultation involving radiation exposure across the globe,” said Dr. Blumenthal. “REAC/TS staff are required to deploy in four hours or less when responding to an incident in the United States, and six hours or less for an international response.”
REAC/TS was established 40 years ago at Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) to continue radiation medicine research, as well as to provide treatment to patients exposed to radiation. REAC/TS also provides direct support for the NNSA’s Office of Emergency Operations , Office of Counterterrorism & Counterproliferation, the Federal Radiological Monitoring and Assessment Center, and DOE’s Office of Science.
Adding to its depth of radiation response and consultation capabilities, REAC/TS is uniquely qualified to teach medical personnel, health physicists, first responders, emergency planners, public health professionals and occupational health professionals about radiation emergency medicine. REAC/TS also operates a cytogenetic biodosimetry laboratory, one of only three in the U.S. where chromosome aberration analysis is used for ionizing radiation dose assessment.
Through its designation as a World Health Organization Collaborating Center for radiation emergency preparedness and response, REAC/TS partners with hundreds of other institutions across the globe to support health issues of international importance.
REAC/TS is an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education facility managed by ORAU for the U.S. Department of Energy with the mission to strengthen the medical response to radiological and nuclear incidents and provide continuing medical education and training. REAC/TS also conducts ongoing research into the biological effects of radiation and provides continuing medical education for healthcare providers.
The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) is a U.S. Department of Energy institute focusing on scientific initiatives to research health risks from occupational hazards, assess environmental cleanup, respond to radiation medical emergencies, support national security and emergency preparedness, and educate the next generation of scientists. ORISE is managed by ORAU.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear explosive testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad. Visit https://nnsa.energy.gov/for more information.