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Radiation Emergency Medicine

ORAU radiation professionals offer world-class, experience-based education to help emergency providers effectively prepare for, and respond to, a radiological/nuclear incident. Our global expertise in the care of patients with radiation injury or illness, both in the pre-hospital and in-hospital settings, along with practical dose estimation that can be used to guide patient care, is the core of our educational courses. 

REAC/TS is a U.S. Department of Energy asset at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) and is operated for DOE by ORAU. Our team provides subject matter expertise and continuing education courses on the medical management of radiological/nuclear incidents.

Through management of the Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site (REAC/TS) at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, ORAU’s radiation emergency medicine experts are helping prepare current and future generations of first responders, first receivers, other healthcare providers, public health professionals, emergency management and planning personnel, and health/medical physics professionals.

At REAC/TS, ORAU staffs two deployable teams that consist of any iteration of a physician, a nurse/paramedic, and a health physicist. These specialized personnel are available 24/7 to educate, advise and consult on the medical aspects of ionizing radiation injuries and illnesses. In addition, REAC/TS’ Cytogenetic Biodosimetry Laboratory serves as a radiation emergency response resource where researchers use “the gold standard” of dicentric chromosome assay, as well as other biodosimetry techniques, for radiation dose estimation.

What we do

ORAU’s experts in radiation emergency medicine have more than 40 years of experience in radiation emergency medical response, leading the way in strengthening worldwide preparedness for radiological/nuclear incidents.

Every year, more than 1,200 medical professionals participate in continuing education courses through REAC/TS. Three different courses are offered throughout the year on site at the REAC/TS training facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn. These courses include lectures, demonstrations, hands-on lab activities and live exercises. Tailored outreach courses may be scheduled to meet the needs of an agency or facility and can be delivered off-site or at a designated location.

  • Radiation emergency medicine personnel conducting an educational course

    Radiation Emergency Medicine course

    The Radiation Emergency Medicine course is intended for physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses and other healthcare providers. First responders, emergency management and public health professionals may also find the course beneficial. The course emphasizes the practical aspects of initial hospital management of irradiated and/or contaminated patients through lectures and hands-on practical exercises.

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    Advanced Radiation Emergency Medicine course

    The Advanced Radiation Emergency Medicine course includes more advanced information for medical practitioners. This program is academically more rigorous than the Radiation Emergency Medicine course and is primarily for physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and nurses desiring an advanced level of information on the diagnosis and management of ionizing radiation injuries and illnesses.

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    Health Physics in Radiation Emergencies course

    The Health Physics in Radiation Emergencies course is designed primarily for health physicists, medical physicists, radiation safety officers and others who have radiation dose assessment and/or radiological control responsibilities. The course presents an advanced level of information on radiological/nuclear event reconstruction, dose assessments/estimations and integration of the physics discipline with medicine.

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Want to learn more about radiation emergency medicine?

Peer-reviewed journal articles authored by ORAU’s Radiation Emergency Medicine professionals, as well as videos and other downloadable materials, can help you learn more about ionizing radiation and the medical aspects of radiological/nuclear incidents.

Scientist in the cytogenetic biodosimetry laboratory
REAC/TS researchers investigate Pseudo Pelger-Huet Anomaly

REAC/TS researchers investigate Pseudo Pelger-Huet Anomaly

The Pseudo Pelger-Huet Anomaly (PPHA), an acquired abnormality in blood cells, has historically been associated with different types of leukemia or pathologic states resulting from exposure to certain infections or drugs. In recent research conducted by REAC/TS, PPHA has also been discovered to be a potential new biodosimeter in the measurement of radiation dose received in acute exposure events. The research team worked with archival blood samples from patients involved in the 1958 Y-12 criticality accident, as well as other samples from historically documented acute dose cases. The samples were used to determine the presence of PPHA as a potential new radiation-induced biomarker.

The REAC/TS Cytogenetic Biodosimetry Laboratory found that this PPHA biomarker appears to be present in the blood early post-accident (<9 hours) and is stable for at least 16 years post-accident. This discovery provides significantly enhanced biodosimetry capability in diagnosing acute radiation dose in patients. Findings from this research were published in Health Physics: The Radiation Safety Journal.

Contact us

For information about REAC/TS and ORAU’s Radiation Emergency Medicine capabilities, contact us at 865.576.3131.

Emergency number

865.576.1005 (Ask for REAC/TS)