Preparing Morocco: REAC/TS provides radiation emergency medicine education in northwest Africa

Map of Morocco

All over the world, people benefit from the expertise of the Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site (REAC/TS). Through instructional and hands-on education, REAC/TS professional staff help medical personnel, emergency planners, public health professionals and others learn about the medical management of radiological/nuclear incidents as well as decontamination techniques.

REAC/TS Director Carol Iddins, M.D., Health Physicist Jason Davis, Ph.D., C.H.P. and Nurse/Paramedic Angie Bowen traveled to Rabat, Morocco, in 2019 to teach an International Medical Management of Radiation Injuries course to 25 health care professionals. This was the first time REAC/TS provided education in Morocco.

Participants shared with the REAC/TS instructors that they wanted to gain knowledge and experience regarding the medical management of those injured by ionizing radiation in the event they were called on to respond, either at home or abroad.

During this four-and-a-half-day course, they learned how to diagnose and medically manage radiation illnesses and injuries as well as internal and external contamination and to determine the most appropriate levels of personal protective equipment when caring for a contaminated patient. “We presented didactic material, but we also did hands-on skills stations and demonstrations,” said Iddins. “The course has an exercise that involves teams caring for a patient with simulated radiological contamination. This is the culmination of the week's activities.

Several participants had prior education related to ionizing radiation events, and the rest were at least familiar with radiation protection concepts. “Because the culture of radiation protection is preventative in nature, very few people have training or experience in what to do in the event that a protective measure fails and someone experiences an ionizing radiation injury,” said Davis. “They used some of their own medical equipment—as well as the health physics and medical equipment we brought—so they could become more proficient during a radiological emergency,” said Bowen.

The course was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration’s Office of Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation’s Office of Nuclear Incident Policy and Cooperation, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense and the European Union CBRN Centres of Excellence. The course was hosted by Morocco’s Department of Civil Protection.

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