May 2005 (vol. 21, #4)
1601 N Tucson Blvd #9, Tucson AZ 85716
c 2005 Physicians for Civil Defense
Despite the fact that both George Bush and John Kerry said, during the campaign, that a nuclear device in the hands of terrorists is the gravest danger facing the United States, preparedness is worse than in the 1950s, as a glance at the official Dept. of Homeland Security website–www.ready.gov – will show. It is as if billions of dollars worth of research on nuclear weapons effects and civil defense had never been done.
According to the Post, the federal government lacks the ability to generate or broadcast “geographically tailored evacuation instructions.” Officials are in only the first stage of planning how to communicate with endangered downwind communities. While nuclear response training has been given to 22,200 (of 2 million) first responders, there are no standards for sending first responders into affected areas–as this would require “a fundamental shift in radiologic protection policy.”
In fact, reports say that “first responders would be unlikely to enter the blast zone but would establish care centers upwind to help victims who escape” (ibid.). They will have to back off, writes Shane Connor of radmeters4u.com–the approved instruments will not measure a radiation level higher than that affecting aircraft during a solar flare (WorldNetDaily 2/14/05).
Officials have not relinquished authority, however. Their strategy is not for people to decide for themselves what to do, but to listen for official advice on radio or television.
If no immediate instructions are available, keep listening and “check the Internet often,” advises the one-page sheet entitled “Be informed. Radiation Threat.” It has 146 words and six pictures, including five radioactivity symbols, and not a single piece of quantitative information.
In searching Ready.gov, you will find references to entertainment for children in a shelter (deck of cards, finger paints), but no way to check the adequacy of the shelter. Search words leading to zero hits include: protection factor, dosimeter, kiloton, megaton, alpha, isotope, half-life, or electromagnetic pulse (EMP). There is no advice to keep a battery-powered radio in a Faraday cage.
If there is radioactive fallout, it might be a good idea to block your thyroid with potassium iodide. Ready.gov has a link to a CDC web site with advice on “who should or should not take KI when the public is told to do so.” If unsure, consult your doctor. Where do you get the KI during the emergency? “Ask a pharmacist.” (Stockpiling was not mentioned.)
Months after the debut of Ready.gov, RAND corporation released a study advising individuals how to respond to various attack scenarios, with notably different recommendations (see www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR1731).
The study contains more specific advice on evacuation. If in an area likely to be blanketed by a cloud of radioactive fallout, it advises evacuation, on foot, in a direction perpendicular to the wind–with the wind in your ears if you can feel it. With a 10-kiloton weapon, a person located between the blast site and up to 6 miles downwind would need to travel less than 1.2 miles to avoid the most dangerous area.
This is not necessarily the best guidance, stated Lara Shane, the Homeland Security spokeswoman in charge of Ready.gov. Some authorities say that miles-high winds might carry the fallout in a different direction. Is the government prepared to make the needed measurements? The Post doesn't say.
RAND provides minimal information about protection factors, and, like Ready.gov, none on measuring radiation levels or on the physiologic effects of various doses.
As Irwin Redlener, M.D., told the Post, “it's perilous to have a system solely dependent on central leadership to save lives.” He notes that “the threat information our leaders have given post-9/11 has often been disorganized, not confidence-inspiring.” Ironic, that he should complain.
Dr. Redlener is now Director, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. He is also a member of the board of sponsors of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), a high-profile opponent of civil defense at the time when a federal program still existed. On its web site, PSR boasts that it “repeatedly exposed federal nuclear-war civil defense planning as naive and futile.” It fought the U.S. Air Force to block plans for the Ground Wave Emergency Network (GWEN) towers needed for the proposed post-nuclear-war communications system. It still opposes national ballistic missile defense systems.
For both information and civil-defense hardware developed through U.S. government research early in the nuclear age, ordinary Americans are wholly dependent on the private sector. Nuclear War Survival Skills by Cresson Kearny, the bible on expedient civil defense and survival under many different types of adverse conditions, appears to have fallen down the Memory Hole for both government and RAND– though once distributed by FEMA to local emergency managers. It is now available in print or on line from the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (www.oism.org).
Radiation monitoring equipment surplused by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was acquired by private groups or individuals, mostly by Shane Connor, who repairs and calibrates them. Extensive information about these instruments is found on his web site. Connor also markets NukAlerts (see p. 2) and kits for Kearny Fallout Meters (KFMs). You can make your own KFM from instructions in NWSS–if you have several hours and all the materials. Remember that your personal equipment may be the best available in your area for high-dose radiation measurements.
In the age of Mutual Assured Destruction, deterrence was substituted for defense in American strategic policy. However, “the terrorist attacks of 9/11 persuaded the Bush administration that nuclear deterrence was of little use against fanatical nonstate terrorist organizations and insufficient to prevent rogue states from using...nuclear weapons, against the United States.” In fact, WMD could be weapons of first choice, rather than last resort (Cato Policy Analysis No. 519, July 8, 2004).
Pre-emptive or preventive war is not an attractive alternative to deterrence, Jeffrey Record argues (ibid.) It's past time to implement the alternative of readiness and defense.
The first such organization, Doctors for Disaster Preparedness, began around 1983 as a project of The American Civil Defense Association. DDP separated its administrative functions and meetings from TACDA around 1991. Unlike PCD, DDP is a membership organization. Its principal project is an annual meeting and distribution of tapes from the meeting as well as other educational materials, including the DDP Newsletter and NWSS. DDP has on occasion provided written testimony to Congress or comments on proposed regulations, and sent Senators and other officials bound lists of the 17,000 scientific signatories to the anti-Kyoto petition that decisively debunked the claim of a scientific consensus behind human-caused, catastrophic global warming. DDP is supported by dues and contributions.
PCD was started in 1991 to provide seed money for a mobile steel civil defense shelter display for the State of Arizona. FEMA funded five such displays, which were designed and built by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. PCD took the mobile shelter to the Maricopa and Pima County Fairs in Arizona and supplied personnel for the display of the Pennsylvania shelter at the Great Allentown Fair. When the State of Arizona surplused the equipment, PCD acquired it. PCD maintains the display and arranges tours on request. Recently, a photograph and description of the Arizona shelter appeared in the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers.
PCD salvaged the radiation monitoring equipment formerly owned by the State of Arizona and has done circuit checks on survey meters and leak testing of the dosimeters. Some of this equipment has been donated to emergency responders and science teachers.
The major current activity of PCD is the NukAlert project to distribute instruments to officials and citizens who will carry them, talk about them, and make them available in time of emergency. So far, about 200 have been dispersed.
Another project is an active search for old documents related to government research on civil defense.
PCD supports the DDP meeting and makes its mailing list available to DDP, expanding DDP's reach many-fold. PCD is funded entirely by tax-deductible contributions.
As reported in the Wasatch Wave, county fire chief Ed Giles of Heber City, Utah, received three NukAlerts donated by PCD. Police Chief Edward Rhoades, Sheriff Ken Van Wagoner, search-and-rescue chief Joel Kohler, and Emergency Preparedness head Kent Berg, also received instruments. The Round Valley Roundup of Scipio announced that Jones would be presenting free NukAlerts at a town council meeting.
The Utah Department of Public Safety accepted ten NukAlerts for its staff and sent Jones to the highway patrol with ten and the Division of Radiation Control with three.
“What I can't show here is their enthusiasm for [the project],” writes Jones. He is also sending press releases to major and small newspapers throughout Utah.
“If you do the math you can see that NukAlerts can do at the cost of a few millions what it would take the government a few billions to do through its current monitoring program,” Jones writes.
He is trying to raise at least $500,000 to jump start a large production run. Otherwise, he fears that the prospects of getting wide nationwide distribution before an emergency are “slim to none.”
“Tens of thousands of NukAlerts produced now means millions of lives saved later,” Jones believes. Additionally, knowledge that the country was prepared would help to deter an attack. This is a chance for an investor or contributor to “literally save the country,” Jones writes.
Contributions to PCD designated for this purpose would be used exclusively to obtain as many NukAlerts as possible.
If you can get a fire or police chief, or business owner, or opinion leader interested in accepting some sample NukAlerts, PCD will help you write a press release to give him some well-deserved local recognition.
“This is an entirely realistic concern,” writes Arthur Robinson (Access to Energy, March 2005). “Iran Plans to Knock Out U.S. with 1 Nuclear Bomb,” writes Joseph Farah (WorldNetDaily 4/25/05).
Diesel engines will still run, Baal says; many or most gasoline engines might not. But gasoline pumps and refineries need electricity. One could still get fuel from underground tanks with any positive displacement pump, such as an ordinary barrel pump with a hose extension dropped down a fill pipe. Baal anticipates that most fuel supplies, however, would soon be confiscated by the military.
Evacuation might have to be on foot. Baal notes that walkers could follow railroad tracks, an easy path as grades don't exceed 3.5%.
“Save the libraries and the elderly,” Baal advises, especially people with a rural background. They can tell you how things were done before we had modern technology. Look for old dictionaries; in addition to telling you what something is, they may also tell you how to make it.
Young persons should visit their grandparents and great-grandparents, get them to talk about how they did things in the old days, and take good notes.
Baal thinks that all electronic records could be lost and says that paper lasts for 500 years. One hopes that there are redundant off-site backups for critical records, and that equipment capable of using them can be restored. But this prospect gives one pause in considering the advisability of the “paperless” medical system.
Of course, one should download and print important information from the internet–now. Do not rely on it for your archives or for emergency news.