Health care system planning for and response to a nuclear detonation

John L. Hick, David M. Weinstock, C. Norman Coleman, Dan Hanfling, Stephen Cantrill, Irwin Redlener, Judith L. Bader, Paula Murrain-Hill, Ann R. Knebel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The hallmark of a successful response to a nuclear detonation will be the resilience of the community, region, and nation. An incident of this magnitude will rapidly become a national incident; however, the initial critical steps to reduce lives lost, save the lives that can be saved with the resources available, and understand and apply resources available to a complex and dynamic situation will be the responsibility of the local and regional responders and planners. Expectations of the public health and health care systems will be met to the extent possible by coordination, cooperation, and an effort to produce as consistent a response as possible for the victims. Responders will face extraordinarily stressful situations, and their own physical and psychological health is of great importance to optimizing the response. This article illustrates through vignettes and supporting text how the incident may unfold for the various components of the health and medical systems and provides additional context for the discipline-related actions outlined in the state and local planners' playbook.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S73-S88
JournalDisaster medicine and public health preparedness
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Disaster response
  • Nuclear detonation
  • Surge capacity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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