The CDC Wants to get People Ready for Nuclear Attacks

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is offering a teaching session later this month that’s tied to a timely topic of late: nuclear war.

The Jan. 16 event, which the CDC has titled “Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation,” comes at a time when continued tensions between the U.S. and North Korea over the Hermit Kingdom’s nuclear pursuits are running particularly hot.

Just this week, President Donald Trump taunted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Twitter, responding to Kim’s saying “a nuclear button is always on my desk” and that the U.S. is within his arsenal’s range by touting the size of his own so-called nuclear button and thus the strength of America’s nuclear weaponry.

CDC representatives did not immediately provide comment to U.S. News about the session, but agency spokeswoman Kathy Harben told Stat News that planning for the event has been months in the making, and kicked off after CDC officials took part in a “radiation/nuclear incident exercise” led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in April of last year.

“CDC participants felt it would be a good way to discuss public health preparedness and share resources with states and other partners. State and local partners also have expressed interest in this topic over time,” Harben said.

Federal, state and local agencies would lead immediate responses to nuclear activity, the CDC says. Yet Stat News reports the session is meant to target public health professionals like doctors, nurses, pharmacists and even veterinarians, among other people.

“Despite the fear surrounding [a nuclear] event, planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness,” the CDC says on its webpage announcing the session. “For instance, most people don’t realize that sheltering in place for at least 24 hours is crucial to saving lives and reducing exposure to radiation.”

“Learn how planning and preparation efforts for a nuclear detonation are similar and different from other emergency response planning efforts,” the site says.

The CDC isn’t the only agency that’s sought to offer guidance on such a topic. In August, officials in Guam – facing the potential threat of North Korean missiles being launched toward the U.S. island territory – advised citizens on what to do in similar circumstances, releasing a fact sheet with important safety steps for before, during and after a radioactive missile strike.

The CDC’s session will include remarks from various public health officials, with presentations bearing titles like “Public Health: Preparing for the Unthinkable” and “Roadmap to Radiation Preparedness.”

The CDC is expected to webcast the event live from Atlanta, where the agency is headquartered.

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