The "rTR" medical response system for nuclear and radiological mass-casualty incidents: A functional triage-treatment-transport medical response model

Chad M. Hrdina, C. Norman Coleman, Sandy Bogucki, Judith L. Bader, Robert E. Hayhurst, Joseph D. Forsha, David Marcozzi, Kevin Yeskey, Ann R. Knebel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Developing a mass-casualty medical response to the detonation of an improvised nuclear device (IND) or large radiological dispersal device (RDD) requires unique advanced planning due to the potential magnitude of the event, lack of warning, and radiation hazards. In order for medical care and resources to be collocated and matched to the requirements, a [US] Federal interagency medical response-planning group has developed a conceptual approach for responding to such nuclear and radiological incidents. The "RTR" system (comprising Radiation-specific TRiage, TReatment, TRansport sites) is designed to support medical care following a nuclear incident. Its purpose is to characterize, organize, and efficiently deploy appropriate materiel and personnel assets as close as physically possible to various categories of victims while preserving the safety of responders. The RTR system is not a medical triage system for individual patients. After an incident is characterized and safe perimeters are established, RTR sites should be determined in real-time that are based on the extent of destruction, environmental factors, residual radiation, available infrastructure, and transportation routes. Such RTR sites are divided into three types depending on their physical/situational relationship to the incident. The RTR1 sites are near the epicenter with residual radiation and include victims with blast injuries and other major traumatic injuries including radiation exposure; RTR2 sites are situated in relationship to the plume with varying amounts of residual radiation present, with most victims being ambulatory; and RTR3 sites are collection and transport sites with minimal or no radiation present or exposure risk and a victim population with a potential variety of injuries or radiation exposures. Medical Care sites are predetermined sites at which definitive medical care is given to those in immediate need of care. They include local/regional hospitals, medical centers, other sites such as nursing homes and outpatient clinics, nationwide expert medical centers (such as cancer or burn centers), and possible alternate care facilities such as Federal Medical Stations. Assembly Centers for displaced or evacuating persons are predetermined and spontaneous sites safely outside of the perimeter of the incident, for use by those who need no immediate medical attention or only minor assistance. Decontamination requirements are important considerations for all RTR, Medical Care, and Assembly Center sites and transport vehicles. The US Department of Health and Human Services is working on a long-term project to generate a database for potential medical care sites and assembly centers so that information is immediately available should an incident occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-178
Number of pages12
JournalPrehospital and disaster medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • emergency medical response
  • mass casualty
  • nuclear terrorism
  • radiological terrorism
  • terrorism
  • transport
  • transportation
  • treatment
  • triage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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