EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation January 12, 2011
Planning for the Nuclear Threat in the 21st Century
Donald M. Lumpkins, Esq.
Branch Chief, National Planning Coordination and Assistance
National Preparedness Directorate, FEMA/DHS
This transcript has been prepared from a recording of the presentation. The slide set can be downloaded from http://www.emforum.org/vforum/FEMA/INDPlanningUpdate.pdf for ease of printing.
[Welcome / Introduction]
Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone and welcome to first EMForum program for 2011! I am Amy Sebring and will serve as your Moderator today. We are very glad you could join us.
Our topic today is planning for responding to a catastrophic disaster involving a nuclear detonation. As many of you know, emergency management as a profession has its roots in the Civil Defense era and has evolved from there. With the decline of the Soviet threat, attention turned to natural disasters. However, there are renewed concerns with the rise of terrorism, and a nuclear detonation incident was identified as the #1 National Planning Scenario.
Last year, Planning Guidance for Response to a Nuclear Detonation was issued, and then an updated edition published during June, so we have been wanting to do this topic for some time. We were fortunate to hear todays speaker, who is very good, at the IAEM conference, and here we are today.
We are making a recording, which should be available later this afternoon. The text transcript will be posted later on. If you are not on our mailing list, you can subscribe from our home page, and then you will get a notice when these are ready.
Now it is my pleasure to introduce todays guest: Donald "Doc" Lumpkins currently serves as Branch Chief for National Planning Coordination and Assistance, National Preparedness Directorate (NPD), FEMA. In this position he oversees the development of national planning doctrine, catastrophic preparedness planning initiatives and tailored technical assistance programs. His responsibilities include supporting state, local, tribal, and territory planning activities, establishing catastrophic priorities and programs, and managing and developing technical assistance programs we just mentioned. Doc is the lead author/editor for Comprehensive Preparedness Guide 101, which provides planning guidance for the development and maintenance of emergency operations plans.
Please see todays Background Page for further biographical information and links to related materials, some of which will be mentioned today. Please note that we do not have a whole lot in the way of visuals today, and this will be more of a listening session. Welcome Doc, and thank you very much for being with us today. I now turn the floor over to you to start us off please.
Donald Lumpkins: Thank you very much, Amy, and thanks to everybody who could join in today. There is a lot of weather around the country it seems. It is playing havoc with folks, so Im glad you were able to take some time.
Im going to take about 15 minutes to talk about a very complex subject that weve studied a lot and written a lot about. Those materials are posted on the EM Forum page for todays event. Before I begin, if you want to hear the end, just listen for about 30 seconds and drop offthats cool. Its very simple. There is a very small but very real threat of nuclear terrorism. It is something we are taking very seriously here.
As a result of all of our work and all of our research, what weve found it that this is not the nuclear threat we grew up with. This is a very real, very survivable threat with proper planning and proper communications. Right now, today, posted on the EM Forum, available in public and from my office, there is good guidance to help prepare for this type of event and to educate people about this event. We are working every day to make it even better.
If you wanted to know how the story ends, that is the last page of the discussion. You can drop off now if you want. Otherwise, well begin getting into some of the details. The focus of this is to really help you think and get your arms around the discussion that has been going on about improvised nuclear devices and to encourage you to learn more.
We all think we have an understanding. Many of us grew up in the shadow of the cold war and the threat of mutually assured destruction, and these large weaponshundred kiloton, megaton weaponsand that is just a very different environment than the IND (Improvised Nuclear Device) threat.
Lets actually begin and paint the picture of the hazard itself. Youll see this slide up, and that is what Im going to talk through. A lot of the information Im going to provide you is contained in the materials that are posted on the EM Forum website.
Many of us remember Bert the Turtle, and the communication message "Duck and Cover", the movies and the stories, and the drills we went throughdiving under desks and going to fallout shelters. That was back when first there was the very real threat of a handful of nuclear weapons exchanged between countries that ultimately blossomed into this idea of city-busting weapons and mutually assured destruction, and relocating entire cities in the event of a nuclear event.
This fear, this concern that went through our daily existence that anywhere in the country a powerful nuclear weapon could fall. Thats not the threat we face anymore. We now face a threat of a small, man portable device, delivered in novel waysno longer the bomber over the city or a missile from 6,000-7,000 miles away, but rather the threat of someone potentially driving a van down the street with one of these weapons.
These smaller weaponsone kiloton, ten kilotonsnon-nation state actorsterrorists acting to disrupt how we function as a nationand in that vein, these weapons are likely to cause as much disruption as destruction, and so its a very different approach. Perhaps just as importantly, the science that we have to understand the weapons and how they work has changed and gotten better.
We are now better able to describe and understand what might happen when one of these weapons is used. Id like for you all to keep that in mind. We are not talking about a weapon detonated at 40,000-50,000 feet that is so big that the term "city busting" is an appropriate term. We are talking about a relatively smallit is still a nuclear weaponbut a relatively small device that will destroy a portion of a large city, not the entire city.
That will be at the ground level. That will change how the electromagnetic pulse happens, and changes the nature of the fallout, and changes the nature of the destruction. With all of that in mind, a big question Ive been asked a lot over the past few years iswhy are we talking about this now? What is the requirement for IND planning? What is driving us to do this?
First and foremost, there is no little note card sitting on my desk that says, "The bad guys have the bomb and theyre going to use it next week." This is not being driven by a very specific threat. It is being driven by a general concern that terrorists will potentially be able to access and use these types of devices.
Over the years we have discussed it. There have been exercises well before even the stand up of the department, but in particular, the big push began in 2007. Working with Congress, a requirement was established to study the hazard, to study IND. By that, I mean looking at everything from modeling to how we do planning to how we communicate about the threat.
Over the following years, we take the information we gained from all that research, figure out how to use it and then begin rolling it out through different venues, formats, and tools. We are now getting to the point where a lot of that initial work has come to fruition and it is time to share that with the response community and the nation as a whole, to make sure people have a better understanding of the threat.
As a side note, everything I will take about today is publicly accessible. Everything is out there on EM Forum and Ready.gov, so make sure you take a look at it. Also, there is a very practical reason to why we are spending more time around this hazard, and that is that it is truly a game changing event. It challenges the way we respond to disasters and the resources we will need because of the magnitude of the event.
It challenges all of our abilities across all of our missions, be those of response and recovery, be those from protection, be those of mitigationthis is so very different from the hazards and threats we deal with day in and day out, that it requires a new look and a new way to go about it.
Of course, if we can begin to get our arms around this hazard, then it will make us that much better to be able to deal with the 99%, the hazards we deal with all the time. When people ask why IND, and why nowits because we have the ability to understand it now, its because we know there is the potential for terrorists to use this weapon, and its because we know that if we get better at that hazard, at dealing with INDs, well be better able to manage any kind of event.
So, we described the hazard a little bit and described why were getting engaged in this over the past few years and continue to do so. As weve done that engagement and weve looked at what needs to happen, we came across a couple of critical areas. One was communicationshow do we talk about it? Two was planning and responsehow do we deal with it?
Three was technical assistancehow do we help jurisdictions get ready for this type of event? For the rest of my time, Im going to spend a few minutes on each one of those to set the stage for you and help guide you where to get additional material.
First, how do we talk about it? It is such an overwhelming event, most people dont want to think about it or plan for it. Honestly, we thought that way, too. Then, we had an interesting opportunity in summer of 2009 to work with the History Channel to do a documentary. As a result of that process, we learned a lot of things.
It challenged a lot of our perceptions about the public and about the response community. First and foremost, people actually do want to know. They want information about it. They dont understand it, and lack of understanding breeds fear. How do we better educate the public and the response community that works with the public day in and day out about this hazard?
Two, we recognized that this type of event is a game changer. That changes how we engage our communications apparatus. You dont run a 30 second public service announcement about a nuclear event. You have to have a certain approach and tact when dealing with this subject. Its one of things we continue to look at.
Additionally, this needs to be part of a larger public information and public communication strategy. We cant do this in isolation. There are many lessons learned from this process that connect to other hazards, and vice versa. While we have not faced an actual nuclear event here in the United States, we have a long history of dealing with large scale and significant disasters and events here and abroad. How do we tie all that together into a unified communication strategy?
Ultimately our goal, of course, is to keep people alive. So, the biggest and most important part of our communication effort is so that people understand what to do prior to the event, so that should the event occur, it is an automatic response. Well talk a little bit about some of the information that weve learned in our research so far, and how that might be forwarded in terms of educating the public.
Communications breaks down very simplypre-event and post-event. Ive mentioned some of the pre-event activity already with the History Channel effort. Most recently, weve updated Ready.gov to provide revised information on the nuclear threat based on all the research that has been going on in the past yearsthe work of the White House, the work of the response community.
There are very clear and concise information and fact sheets for you to look at to understand what should happen in the event of an incident. Well get in more detail about that in a minute or two. We have also begun working with local jurisdictions who are interested in this topic, who are excited about engaging in the pre-event piece to test ideas and approaches on how we would communicate this and how we do it as a part of a larger preparedness effort.
Post-eventlooking at things like 72-hour messagingwe have a good idea based on all the research what the first 72 hours would look like after nuclear detonation. It is better now that we put together the types of questions we might be asked, and what is the best science available to develop answers to those questions now.
Weve begun engaging the response community. That has been an ongoing effortworking with scientists, working with responders and communications experts to develop text messaging that we can provide to state, local, and tribal territory governments to have available in this type of incident.
Additionally, we are looking at a public information officer toolkit that contains pre-scripted messaging and information that may be valuable in the first few hours after this type of an event. That is the communications focus of our efforts to date at a very high level.
Looking at our efforts now as they turn towards planning and response guiding, probably the most critical document that we have out there todayit is in its second edition as of this summer, and posted on the EM Forumits a joint document developed across the federal government working with the White House Office of Science, Technology and Policyit is Planning, Guidance, and Response to a Nuclear Detonation.
The interagency subcommittees put it together dealing with preparedness and response issues around nuclear threats and it is designed to provide planners with nuclear detonation specific response recommendations, with the focus toward an urban detonation, with the goal being to maximize the preservation of life.
In that guide we talk about the unique effects and impacts of nuclear detonation and do so in an environment with a very compromised infrastructure. As important as it is to understand the initial blast, to understand all the other effects it has on the surrounding infrastructure becomes critical when we begin our response operation. The guide lays that out for everybody.
If I convey nothing else to you about the guide, the most important piece I would convey to you is that in very clear language we lay out the most effective life-saving opportunity for all of us as response officials in the first hour after an event will be that our decisions around safely sheltering people, especially in possible areas of fallout.
A lot of those folks will be most benefited with an understanding that their first reaction, which is to flee or self-evacuate, in fact, may not be the right reaction. The best reaction may be to seek appropriate shelter and await instructions. The details of what is appropriate shelter, I wont get into on this call today. It is contained in the guide and the information is also posted on Ready.gov.
That is probably the most important aspect of what has come out of our research and experience. Right now, some of you are thinking, "That is duck and cover all over again." Were not huge fans of duck and cover. I would submit to you that if you are looking for an effective message that is easily understood in a time of tremendous crisis, there is no easier message that is more effective in the minutes after a nuclear detonation than to seek shelter.
A lot of the information in the guidance will direct you to the research that helps support that understanding. We will continue to refine our understanding of the best way to execute that message. The guidance is fairly easily structured. We focus on effects and impacts in an urban environment.
Perhaps most importantly in that, in terms of changing the paradigm in which we think about a nuclear event, is that while the damage will be extensive, it is likely to be localized physical damage. Setting fallout aside for the moment, the physical damage is likely to be localized. Again, these are not the city-busting weapons that we knew in the sixties, seventies, and eighties.
We talk about the use of zoned approaches to a nuclear detonation. We talk about some managed risks. We talk about shelter evacuation recommendations to help protect the public from acute effects of high radiation exposure, especially in the first days of the event. But also, to make sure that our efforts are technically informedone of the biggest, perhaps most important aspects of this effort in the last three years is the amount of individuals with a technical understanding of the hazard that we were able to engage.
We want to take that and turn it into a usable format that could be understood by all of us as planners. We then talk about early medical care, reminding people, because there is a tendency when we talk about nuclear detonation that everybody gets focused on the radiation while forgetting that the types of injuries we are going to see in these events are very much combination injuries that we normally dont account for in our planning.
Its a combination of blast, thermal and radiation injuries. How does that change our medical protocols? Those are things to think about. Also, a discussion about the social, psychological and behavioral impacts of these types of eventswe cant understate the potential effect that a nuclear detonation will have on the American populous.
This is an event that we have never directly experienced, and we have an entire generation that has never lived under the daily shadow of potential nuclear war. Should such an event like this occur, preparing for the mental health aspect becomes critical. Some of that discussion is contained in the guidance.
Population monitoring and decontaminationwe talk about those issues, promoting, where very possible, self performance of external decontamination, and the need to communicate that to the community and the public in the hours after the event.
Finally, we talk to emergency public informationwe lay out the challenges we might face in the hours after the event, and also providing a greater understanding of collaboration, the use of alternate tools and alternate information outlets in the hours after an event, and engaging with neighboring communities to get the message out. Were not just planning for where the event occurred, we are planning for surrounding jurisdictions. We are planning for the entire nation and being able to convey information very quickly.
Perhaps most important in that discussion, based on the feedback and the information we have seen, is that pre-incident preparedness is the most critical aspect in our public information campaign. The ability of the public to make quick, rote decisions is based entirely on what they knew before the event occurred.
As much as we can empower people with knowledge about the hazard, that is going to improve the survival rates for any jurisdiction impacted by the event. That includes not only educating people, but practicing those messages so that people understand what to look for. While the IND discussion has really emphasized this, I think we would all agree that this is true regardless of the threat and hazard.
Where we can simplify messages and effectively educate the public ahead of time on exactly what to do and distill that down to very straightforward set of decisionsthat always improves survival rates once an event has occurred. That document is out now. It is publicly available. We have provided it and it is posted on EM Forum already.
What we are now undertaking is to take all of this great guidance and provide a format for which to include it within emergency operations plans. A structure that is familiar to many of you in the emergency management community, the Hazard Specific Annexhow do we take all this information and structure it in such a way to not only flesh out that Annex, but also provide key points to engage other functional annexes to the emergency operation plan, and even points where it may affect the basic emergency operation plan?
That guide is currently in development and we hope to have that ready by this summer and provide that out to the community at large for comment and ultimate implementation. We talked about public communications, pre-event and post-event, and planning. One last thing I want to talk to you about briefly is the direct support of technical assistance.
Congress authorizes the Department of Homeland Security through FEMA to operate a technical assistance program that supports really any granteestate, local, travel, territory, ports, transit systems, you name itto help conduct planning and implement their programs in a wide variety of areas. We are now beginning to put in place the tools and subject matter experts and different things we need to provide planning support to state and local officials to prepare for this particular hazard.
Keep your eyes open. Information will be coming out shortly on that. You can also always reach out to us. Our email address, which my email address will be on the last slide, but also the general email address: email@example.com . You can reach out to that email address and we will get you to the right office in FEMA, to the right federal agency and expertise in order to assist in planning for this type of event and in sharing information about this type of event.
To sort of summarize the talk piece of this and get to the important partthe questionsif I could boil it all down, its about educating people first off on understanding what to dothe need to seek shelter and stay tuned for information and instructions. Those two pieces together will save a number of lives.
In regard to the threat we face, it is a small but real threat. I hate to quote a movie, especially not a very good one, so I wont name the movie, but one of the actors in the movie noted they werent afraid of somebody who wanted a dozen nukes, they were afraid of somebody who only wanted one nuke. Our security apparatus is constantly vigilant for that one person. At the same time, we must have all the planning and preparation necessary in the event an incident occurs.
The guidance and materials weve provided through this forum today, posted on the website, will help you down that road. Ultimately, this is a survivable event. This is not the city-busting, nation-destroying event that many of us grew up with. These are smaller weapons, localized, and they are used differently.
Improving your understanding about the hazard may in fact be our greatest weapon in preparing for this type of event.
With that in mind, the really fun part about the webinars is the questions, so I will hand it back over to Amy to get that started.
Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Doc. Now, to proceed to our Q&A.
[Audience Questions & Answers]
Terry LaFon: When will the PIO toolkit be available?
Donald Lumpkins: Thanks for the question, Terry. We are also targeting the summertime frame for that too. The 72-hour messaging is currently under development and I hope well see that out shortly. But the full on toolkit will probably be at the beginning of summer. In the interim, there is a lot of information about public information within the second edition guide that is posted on the EM Forum.
Ed McDonough: Doc, how do us PIO's walk that fine line between educating people about a small nuclear device and scaring the heck out of them?
Donald Lumpkins: First off, Ed, even though indirect, its good to hear from you. Its been quite a long time. It is a really fine line. Its one of the reasons weve grappled for so long about how to engage on this. Id love to give you a clean cut answer, but I dont believe there is one. I would tell you that probably the best approach and certainly one of the approaches were looking at is have this be a part of a larger campaign.
Specifically targeting IND as a conversation presents challenges, but if were out talking about all the hazards that we face, including terrorism and the hazards contained within it, I think it provides an opportunity to address some of these unthinkable hazards and to do so in a context of general communication and general preparedness and education across everything we do.
Meanwhile, we are going to work on a lot of tools to also help engage in that. There is a whole standing group here whose entire job is to sort out both pre-event and post-event, and as they develop materials, well be engaging the community for input and feedback on the best ways to do that. I guess part of this is stay tuned.
Alisha Griswold: What efforts are being made to include Public Health in the broader planning process?
Donald Lumpkins: The easy answer is the HHS and CDC here at the federal headquarters level have been engaged in these discussions. In terms of broader planning to include IND, we made a concerted effort when we updated the General Guidance for Developing and Maintaining Emergency Operations Plans to ensure public health and other groups that are critically important to the planning effort are included in the planning effort.
One of the things I really havent talked about but what also posted on the forum is developing is the guidance for developing EOPs, called CPG 101, that Amy referred to in the introduction. Youll see additional language there about engaging public health and looking at novel ways to engage not only public health but the whole community, public and private sector, in the planning process.
David Huber: There is a partner program in North Texas (DFW area) that I am aware of. Is there a directory of partner programs available?
Donald Lumpkins: Im not certain which partner program David is referring to, so Im going to say the answer is maybe. David, if you want to post back or email me direct with which specific partner program you are talking about, I might be able to give you a better answer.
Jim Hammill: We now live in a data rich environment, what tools have been developed to move data from the DOD/DOE [Dept. of Defense/Dept. of Energy] arena to the civilian incident commander(s) at the scene? Are there electronic tools being employed to request and satisfy "Resource Requests" needed by the responding agencies?
Donald Lumpkins: I will answer that very vaguely, because that is not my particular area of expertise, but the answer is yes. I am aware of a number of efforts going on. If that is something, Amy, that has a larger follow-up to engage the forum on, we can certainly assist with that.
There are tools not only given with resourcing, but we are also working with DOD and the Department of Energy to discuss modeling efforts and how to better organize that in support of the incident commander. We are doing that as pilot efforts in our regional catastrophic program.
Isabel McCurdy: Doc, 'Seek shelter' is a simple thing to say. What determines a safe shelter when seeking shelter during this nuclear event?
Donald Lumpkins: Thats a good question. I will tell you a single story entirely wood housing is not your best option. The simplest way to describe it, of course, is the further in or deeper you can gothat always helps. The nearest building is better than nothing. But if you have the opportunity to pick and choose, start thinking about brick or concrete buildings. Look toward multi-story buildings or those with a basement that can be reached.
You want to get to the core. You want to get, if possible, below ground level. Basically you want as much wall and concrete, brick and soil between you and the material outside. Actually, if you go to Ready.gov we have actually posted a shelter graphic of not only what different types of shelter are there that you should be considering, but the level of protection each is likely to provide.
This is early science. The numbers are bound to change, but especially, I think we all know, the less time you are exposed to radiation, the better off you are.
Amy Sebring: You mentioned youve been engaging the response community in this process. Could you tell us a little bit more about how thats been going on?
Donald Lumpkins: There is a number of different venues working through a different number of different affinity groups, as well as direct with jurisdictions. The Comprehensive Preparedness Guides, which 101 is a part of, are drafted by writing teams made of state and local officials from around the nation. We have about 40 or so folks we work with on a routine basis.
We actively engage them. They are also members of different professional associations. They reach back into their associations. As materials are developed and vetted, we reach to those associations as well, be that NEMA or the International Association of Emergency Managers, and others like themthe different associations that are a part of the Domestic Preparedness Consortium.
We also reach, depending on the topiceach office has different groups that it works with. When we worked with the White House Office of Science Technology Policy, we worked with EPAthey also reach out to their groups as well. Quite often, especially when we work with the associations, this get publically posted, so there are opportunities there to see what is going on and provide feedback.
They are almost always publically posted in a place where it is not required to be a member of the association to see the information. We use a lot of different venues, be it direct or indirect, to try to get input engagement in these processes. We are constantly looking at better ways to do that. I think you are going to see increased use of collaborative toolsweb-based collaborative toolstools that I think everyone is familiar with to get increased involvement in these products, and to get that involvement earlier in the development process.
Amy Sebring: So that is basically the process you are using on this new CPG 402 in terms of a writing team, and you plan to post that to get comment when that comes out next summer?
Donald Lumpkins: Correct.
G. Hilbert: Does the guidance address the possibility of fallout from outside our borders, e.g. a nuclear detonation in Korea?
Donald Lumpkins: That is an interesting question. There have been studiesI am not a scientist, but I am aware of studies that have looked at fallout even from, not an IND event, but a meltdown from a nuclear facility or testing, from our own history of nuclear testing. This guidance does not specifically get into that.
There is a lot of material out there already through EPA and other venues that talk to fallout. Youll see those in this guidethere are a number of bibliography sections that point to that information. I would encourage you to take a look at those at those pieces and see what is listed there. It will get you in the direction you seek.
Joe: Is it federal planning policy that a federal on-scene incident commander will be put in place as soon as possible and the event will be federally led? Reason for the question is that this is a key planning difference of the singular IND event rather than the multiple strike event. So ops and annexes need to be different if it is.
Donald Lumpkins: Im going to tap dance a little, but I am at least warning you ahead of time. Im not in a position to specifically answer what is going to happen with the federal on-scene coordinator. That is not the function of my office. I can tell you that it is a general policy for any large scale event like thiswe are going to work with state and locals, but at the same time, we are going to lean forward as much as possible.
Our goal is not to be there in 72 hoursour goal is to stabilize in 72 hours. As a federal government, we have got to get smarter and faster about how we operate and do that in a way that is conducive to and integrated with state and local planning, and at the same time, better positions us to meet shortfalls.
When you take that notion and bring it to an event like thisthat requires an even greater level of integration and coordination. We are working with the FEMA regions and Response and Recovery here at FEMA headquarters to provide improved planning guidance, and to look at integrating across the whole community for these large scale and catastrophic events and how we can achieve that goal of early stabilization as opposed to just showing up in three days.
What impact that will ultimately have on the federal on-scene coordinator and all those pieces is, I apologize, but well beyond my scope.
Amy Sebring: There is an incident annex to the National Response Framework that is a few years old. Do you know if that needs updating or if it is in the process of being updated?
Donald Lumpkins: I know we are taking a look at everything right now. We have learned a lot from this hazard, but we have also been handed a very large mantle from the FEMA administrator to be more effective and responsive and to focus on stabilizing in 72 hoursnot being in place in 72 hours. We are going to be examining everything we havethe annexes, the plans currently under development to see what is working and what is not.
Marla Kendig: Do you anticipate federally-led pilots for training and exercises in using the new guidance?
Donald Lumpkins: I anticipate that there will be many state and local governments who want to use this guidance and who are eager for federal support in helping them understand and conduct and plan workshops to implement that guidance. Where that is the case, we will certainly help.
I do not see them as "federally led" discussions. I do see them as joint planning efforts between the federal government and the state and local community because of the magnitude of these events.
Amy Sebring: Is there an EMI course on this topic?
Donald Lumpkins: We have not updated anything as yet at EMI. Focus first was on the guidance itself. Now we are looking at looking at the technical assistance package to move things. We will probably begin engaging EMI, especially as we wrap up the guidance piece on the hazards specific annex to the emergency operations plan to update their materials.
Avagene Moore: Thank you, Doc, for your presentation. Is there a national public educational campaign planned to address this topic to ensure that people understand that they can prepare for this nuclear threat?
Donald Lumpkins: Ready.gov is the big piece of this right now. It is quick and concise, and there are colorful handouts that are useful and effective, which as a communicator is all I can hope for. It is easy information, readily understood, that is easily communicated. In terms of a larger campaign, it is absolutely a topic of discussion here.
But as I mentioned, the topic is instigating a larger discussion about how we communicate about these types of hazards. We are spending a lot of time talking with external affairs, and talking with the staff of individual community preparedness to look at ways to communicate all hazards, but to do so with the new information we have about INDs as well.
Amy Sebring: In order to get a message out, post this type of incident, your communication infrastructure is going to be so severely damaged that it would be almost impossible to get any instructions out. How do you address that in the guide?
Donald Lumpkins: We talk about that in the guidance and one of the things we highlight is that is where the pre-event communications become so important. One of the things I mentioned in my remarks is in the immediate after math of these types of events people are going to do what they know, regardless of whether we can get to them or not with clearer information.
In the absence of conflicting instruction, they are going to say, "Okay, I should do X". And what X comes from is experience and knowledge and what they know to be true, what they believe to be true, and what theyve heard before. As much as we can look at things like Ready.gov and promote that information, make it available to the public, and begin engaging in an intelligent discussion about this hazardand again, this is part of a larger discussion about hazardsshould an event occur, the immediate gap in communications its effect will hopefully be minimized.
That is for the first few hours. After that, well have to look at different tools. Any communications equipment we bring in afterwards will not have been affected by the electromagnetic pulse. A lot of communications equipment that might not have been operating at the time may be unaffected. Wind-up radios are a perfect example of that.
The other piece of the puzzle though, and what we cannot forget, is that because of the localized nature of the event, communication system immediately outside of the impact area will still be effective. We have to make sure that when we talk about public information, many of the areas that are going to have the most infrastructure damage, the most damaged communications systems, are also those that may have a lower rate of survivability, more so because of the physical damage than anything.
We cant forget that we have people outside of this immediate area of localized damage to get news and instructions to, but we also have states throughout a region that we need to get instructions to. We want to make sure that people arent afraid when people start randomly showing up that we are potentially in the impact zone. And we have a country to communicate to.
I am not downplaying the loss of communication infrastructure in the immediate area of the blast, but one of the things we have to remember is that were not just communicating to a county, were communicating to a region and a nation. We have to make sure we get all of that understood at our national planning level.
At the state and local level, we are looking at not only the internal communications, but with public information officers and operators working across jurisdiction lines to ensure effective communications. I can give no simpler example than an experience that was relayed to me from one of the states dealing with tornados.
The planning around tornados, the communications around tornados was not coordinated from county to county, so if you werent careful and you lived near a county line, a siren test in the adjacent county may be misinterpreted as a warning in the county next to them because that hadnt been coordinated and communicated ahead of time.
This is much larger and grander scale, but I dont think the lesson is lost. Because of the damage to infrastructure, because of the scope of the event, communications is no longer a single jurisdiction issue. That level of coordination and cooperation across jurisdictional lines will help fill in the gap for some of the lost infrastructure.
Jim Hammill: What IND exercises have been conducted between DOD/DOE and civilian responders and are there any After Action Reports available?
Donald Lumpkins: I do not have the list in front of me. I know a number of them have been conducted. I have been a participant in them both here and in my former life in state government. I know more will be done.
The exercises have gone on, but this new guidance just came out over the summer and we are still learning lessons about the science behind this hazard. Those exercises were useful for what they were. Now we have to begin engaging our planning efforts based on this new information and that very well may affect future exercises.
There are a number of opportunities coming up within the various catastrophic initiatives at the federal level that are working with state and local governments where we will be able to further test and refine the guidance.
Amy Sebring: Could you summarize the zoned approach is that you mentioned?
Donald Lumpkins: Despite our best efforts, whenever any of us are in the field, to draw nice concentric circlesthe real world doesnt work that way. In the planning guidance, we discuss three types of damage zones around a potential detonation and using those to help guide a response and how we save lives while we manage the risks to the response workers in the field, to both their immediate life and their long term health and safety.
We talk about three zones in the guidancelight damage, moderate damage, and severe damage zones. The light damage zone is generally characterized by broken windows, but is also easily managed injuries. Most of those injuries are going to be related to the over pressure that caused that damage than anything else.
Moderate damagethats where youre going to start seeing significant building damage, rubble, downed utility lines and poles, overturned vehicles, fires and serious injuries. That gets to and includes some of the edge of the thermal blast zone. But where that really presents a challenge to responders is the resulting infrastructure damage, the resulting building damage, can create six, seven, or ten foot high piles of rubble in the roads.
While the readings might tell you it is okay to perform activities there for a period of time, while it looks safe, the reality is that access may be a problem. The severe damage zonethats where you are looking at completely destroyed infrastructure and high radiation levels that quite honestly, create an environment where it is unlikely that victims will survive.
Amy Sebring: Time to wrap for today. Thank you very much Doc. We appreciate your taking the time to be with us today and share this information, and wish you continued success with your efforts in the future. We would also like to thank Angela Stonebraker in your office for her assistance with todays program.
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