December 11, 2010

DRDO to train doctors to handle victims of chemical, nuclear strikes

In the wake of chemical and nuclear threats, the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS) of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is strengthening its chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) defence by extending training programmes to private and government institutes, health organisations and paramilitary forces. This would also include health institutes such as PGIMER where doctors and nurses are to be provided similar training in order to prepare them on how to deal with CBRN casualties.

Talking about the gravity of CBRN threats and the ignorance among sections of military and para-military forces as well as the public, Dr Rakesh Sharma, Scientist ‘G’, Additional Director and Head, Division of CBRN Defence, INMAS said, “Today, more than the CBRN threat from other countries, it is the threat of proliferation of such highly devastating agents into the hands of terrorist organisations across the globe. Also, there could be incidents where the disaster is a natural one, as was the recent case of Delhi University Cobalt-60 disaster. In contrast to the high intensity of threats, the awareness is very low among professionals and public. Keeping this in mind, for the first time INMAS would have a CBRN training institute where paramilitary, employees at government orgainsations, health institutes and civilians would be trained to prepare them for any CBRN mass casualty.”

Keeping the importance of hospitals and health research institutes in mind, INMAS had already published a 250-page book on medical management on CBRN casualties and distributed in hospitals including PGIMER. “We have already trained a section of doctors, nurses, and other health professionals on how to treat a patient exposed to radioactive agent prior to the Commonwealth Games at Delhi. Talking about the health institute-PGIMER-which caters to patients from various states including Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, etc, it is pertinent to train doctors and nurses for such casualties. Thus, it would also be roped into these training programmes,” stated Dr Sharma.

The training will be premised on the existing defence technique of NBC currently being used in military. This would be modified as per the requirements of the civil sector. For instance, the technology used in military tanks to counter NBC attacks would be modified and simplified for the use of personal vehicles. At present, 62 NBC defence tools are produced by DRDO and already inducted in defence which would be modified for the civil use and accordingly provided training on how to use them.

Dr Sharma further added, “The training is a four step programme where the most important element is protection-of both individual and collective, second is detection followed by decontamination and medical counter measures.”

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