Nebraska Medical Center has joined an elite group of medical organizations around the country prepared to respond to a radiological event.
As part of the Radiation Injury Treatment Network (RITN), the medical center has shown specialized ability to care for people exposed to significant amounts of radiation through an improvised nuclear device or some other type of radiation accident. If a large-scale radiological incident were to happen, there potentially could be thousands of casualties with compromised bone marrow.
"In an event like that, medical facilities close to the disaster area would likely be overwhelmed," said Frank Rutar, director of radiation safety for UNMC and Nebraska Medicine. "The RITN is designed to accept these types of casualties from anywhere in the country."
"Bone marrow is the most sensitive part of our body to radiation," said Kim Schmit-Pokorny, manager of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program and primary coordinator for the RITN. "The same types of side effects are possible with many cancer treatments, so our expertise and experience treating cancer makes us very well-suited to be part of this national group."
Several RITN centers, including ours, recently conducted a drill simulating a response to a nuclear attack within the United States.
"We hope never to see this in real life, but a robust preparedness strategy is vital to our national security and Nebraska Medicine is proud to be part of that," said Shelly Schwedhelm, executive director of emergency preparedness and infectious diseases at Nebraska Medicine.