Omaha health professionals prepare for radiological disaster

Preparing for a real-life emergency. It's something you may not like to think about but it could save lives.
Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 5:15 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - You may not like to think about disasters, but preparedness could save lives.

Health professionals in Omaha performed a practice exercise to help get ready for a radiological disaster.

“All of these exercises that we do here at UNMC help prepare us and the community in case of that very bad day,” said Keith Hansen with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health. “Whatever that bad day might be.”

For the exercise, medical stations were set up, supplies were set out and actors learned their roles. Health professionals practiced what they would do if the public was exposed to radiation.

“We need to be prepared for all types of eventualities, whether it’s a chemical event, a radiological event, a biological event.”

Hansen said the exercise took months to plan.

“This is generally an 8-to-12-month process, to put together all of the plans, all of the procedures all of the volunteers.”

Nurse Audrey Person practiced helping asymptomatic people so emergency rooms don’t get overwhelmed.

“So that way the ERs could tend to the sicker patients that are maybe showing symptoms and this would be for the ‘walking worried’ is what we call them,” Person said.

Hansen said lessons learned from COVID came into play.

“We learned a lot from covid in terms of testing the public. There’re many ways to do it. With COVID it was a very different test than we’re doing today, but a lot of those same lessons apply,” Hansen said.

Hansen says there’s always room for improvement, but overall, the practice proved successful.

“If this event were to happen tomorrow, this would happen tomorrow. We are pretty much ready to go as is.”