First Aid for Nuclear Radiation




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Chapter 3 : First Aid for Nuclear Radiation



Factors Determining Radiation Exposure arrow_upward


  • Time:
    • The longer you are exposed, the greater your exposure.
  • Distance:
    • The degree of exposure varies with the inverse square of the distance.

  • Shielding:
    • Reduce your exposure by shielding your body (e.g. lead apron).

    Radiation Management arrow_upward


  • Evacuation of Persons:
    • Who are in the path of a radiation cloud?
  • Risk Communication:
    • Need effective communication with residents as to steps they can take to reduce exposure.
  • Patients can be:
    • Irradiated externally,
    • Contaminated with radionuclides.
  •  Patients who are radioactive:
    • These patients need to be decontaminated.
    • Some internally deposited radionuclides can be removed with chelation therapy.
  • How to protect yourself from radiation:
    • Reduce the time of exposure.
    • Increase the distance from the radiation source.
    • Apply shielding between yourself and the radiation source.

    Biological Effects of Radiation arrow_upward


  • Somatic Effects:
    • This is the biological effect that occurs on the exposed individuals.
    • Physical effects may be immediate like skin burns and cataracts, delayed like cancer.
  • Genetic Effects:
    • Genetic effects refer to biological changes on the descendants of the exposed individuals due to mutation of their genetic cells.
    • Birth defects occur due to irradiation to reproductive cells before conception.
  • Teratogenicity Effects:
    • Due to radiation exposure to fetus in the uterus like cancer or congenital malformation.

    First Aid for Burns arrow_upward


  • Burn- an injury that can be caused by:
    • Fire
    • Heat
    • Chemical agents
    • Radiation
    • Electricity
  • Treatment:
    • Cooling the affected skin area
    • Covering the burn
    • Preventing infection

    First Aid for Contamination arrow_upward


  • Remove patient’s clothing and personal belongings.
    • This typically removes 80 - 90% of contamination.
  • Handle foreign objects with care until proven non-radioactive with survey meter.
    • Survey patient and collect samples,
    • Scan face, hands and feet,
    • Scan rest of the body.
  • The speed of the survey should not exceed 2 inches per second.
  • The distance between the probe and the patient should be approximately 1 inch.
    • Record location of contamination,
    • Contamination level,
    • Patient name,
    • Date and Time of survey,
  • Keep bag, tie, seal and label (patient name, date, time, etc.) any contaminated material in plastic bags.
  • Contaminated personal items may be decontaminated (washed) and returned to the patient later.

  • Decontamination of Skin arrow_upward


  • Decontaminate patients with several gentle efforts.
  • Wash contaminated areas with soap and water.
    • Water is the most important ally in this setting.
    • Contaminated wash water can go down the drain like normal wash water.
    • Localized contamination can be wiped off with pre-moistened wipes or washed with soap and water.
    • A shower may be best if the patient is ambulatory and the contamination is wide spread.
    • Take care not to abrade or irritate the skin.
    • Protect non-contaminated wounds with waterproof dressings.
  • Remove contaminated hair if necessary, using scissors or electric clippers. 
  • To avoid cutting the skin and providing an entry for internal contamination, do not shave.
  • Sweating can remove radioactive material from pores.
    • Cover the area with gauze and put a glove or tape plastic over the area to promote sweating.

    Cease Patient Decontamination arrow_upward


  • Cease decontamination of the skin and wounds, when the area is less than twice the background reading on the survey meter.
    • There is no significant reduction between washings.
  • Decontamination should not cause the skin to become abraded.
    • Do not delay surgery, or other necessary medical procedures.
  • Staff will be protected from becoming contaminated by using universal precautions.
    • Sheets and dressings will keep contamination in place.
  • If the patient still shows a positive reading for contamination on the meter.
    • There is no reduction between decontamination efforts.
    • Consider the possibility of internal contamination.

    Decontamination of Wounds arrow_upward


  • Protection of non-contaminated wounds with waterproof dressings will minimize the potential uptake of radioactive material.
  • Contaminated wounds:
    • Irrigate and gently scrub with
      surgical sponge.
    • Debride surgically only if needed.
  • Contaminated thermal burns:
    • Gently rinse,
    • Changing dressings will remove additional contamination.

    Exposure vs. Contamination arrow_upward


  • External Exposure:
    • External irradiation of the body with rays or particles absorbed dose.
  • Contamination:
    • Presence of radioactive material on patient or within patient.

    Ways to Decontaminate arrow_upward


  • External Contamination:
    • Can be as simple as removing clothes and taking shower.

  • Internal Contamination:
    • Inside the body (taken in through inhalation, ingestion or wounds).
    • Consider Chelation therapy: Chelation therapy is a mainstream treatment used to treat heavy metal poisoning.



    Thank You from Kimavi arrow_upward


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