“The likelihood of a nuclear weapon attack in an American city is steadily increasing, and the consequences will be overwhelming” said Cham Dallas, Center for Mass Destruction Defense (CMADD) at the University of Georgia (UGA) director and professor in the UGA College of Pharmacy. The researchers examined four high-profile American cities and modelled the effects of a 20 kiloton nuclear detonation and a 550 kiloton detonation. (For comparison, the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were in the 12 to 20 kiloton range).
The researchers note that in all four cities studied, hospitals are concentrated in the area most likely to be destroyed. Another weak link is the inability of the nation’s hospital system to treat the burn victims a 550-kiloton detonation would create. A 550-kiloton detonation in Atlanta, the least densely populated of the four cities studied, would result in nearly 300,000 serious burn victims.
“The hospital system has about 1,500 burn beds in the whole country, and of these maybe 80 or 90 percent are full at any given time,” William Bell, CMADD senior research scientist said. “There’s no way of treating the burn victims from a nuclear attack with the existing medical system.”
“If a nuclear detonation were to occur in a downtown area, the picture would be bleak there,” Dallas said. “But in urban areas farther from the detonation, there actually is quite a bit that we can do. In certain areas, it may be possible to turn the death rate from 90 percent in some burn populations to probably 20 or 30 percent – simply by being prepared well in advance.”
One intervention is to mount a public awareness campaign to teach civilians what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. Since radioactive plumes move downwind, a person can look up at the trees to see which way the wind is blowing and then flee perpendicular to the wind. People in areas upwind of the detonation site, on the other hand, are safest staying where they are.
MEDICA.de; Source: University of Georgia