Government Report: Rich White Men Are Most Likely to Survive Nuclear Blast
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Good news! You’ve got a pretty good chance of surviving a terrorist’s nuclear blast in your city -- especially if you’re a rich white man. Women, ethnic minorities and lower socioeconomic classes are more likely to be “stricken by psychiatric disorders,” and once they start going crazy they’re less likely to survive.
That’s just one of the startling revelations in the new second edition of “Planning Guidance for Response to a Nuclear Detonation,” a 130-page report produced, thanks to your tax dollars, by the Obama administration's National Security Staff Interagency Policy Coordination Subcommittee for Preparedness and Response to Radiological and Nuclear Threats. (I’m not making this up, honest.)
And there’s more good news. Even if you are not rich, white and male, a nuke detonated in a major U.S. city is “is more survivable than most people think.” That’s what “an official deeply involved in the planning” told the New York Times’ William Broad, that intrepid reporter of all things nuclear, who broke the story.
If you are a fan of Kafka or Alice in Wonderland, you might want to read the whole report for yourself (though first you’ll have to memorize the 50-plus acronyms it uses). For the rest of you, here are just a few of the more surreal tidbits:
If a terrorist detonates a nuclear weapon in your city, you’ll have “a few seconds” after seeing the flash “to take limited protective measures.” But “five seconds … is enough time for a person with the right information to seek basic shelter (e.g., duck and cover),” the authors assure us, although they admit that when the government promoted “duck and cover” during the Cold War era it left the public “skeptical of preparedness messages.” Are you skeptical yet?
You can get “the right information” from this report, stuff you might not have figured out on your own, like “Survivors should not seek shelter in buildings that are on fire.”
And there will be plenty of buildings on fire, especially in the MD (Moderate Damage) zone, estimated to be a half-mile to a mile from the blast point. (The SD [Severe Damage] zone, within a half-mile of ground zero, will be obliterated, so it gets little attention in this manual for emergency responders.) In the MD “fires fed by broken gas lines, ruptured fuel tanks, and other sources will be prevalent … a major threat to survivors” and to responders rushing to the rescue.
Nevertheless, “search and rescue missions should be practicable in the MD zone,” and “many casualties will survive.” The MD will be “the focus of early life-saving operations,” since that’s where survivors “will benefit most from urgent medical care.”
Responders apparently won’t be deterred by the fires, nor by the “elevated radiation levels, unstable buildings and other structures, downed power lines, ruptured gas lines, hazardous (perhaps airborne) chemicals, sharp metal objects, broken glass … substantial rubble and crashed and overturned vehicles in streets.”
“Passage of rescue vehicles [will be] difficult or impossible” in the MD. “It will take a concerted effort to get responder resources to keep pushing forward.” Their path will have to be cleared by “heavy equipment and debris removal capabilities.” Oh, and “radiation levels in the MD zone may be very high.” All in all, “responder units within one or two miles from ground zero may be compromised or completely nonfunctional” while thousands lie dying.
The responders will be moving in from the LD (Low Damage) zone, where the streets will be filled with broken glass, but anyone wounded by the flying glass will be ignored as long as they are “ambulatory.” Of course responders will face that pesky little problem of EMP (electromagnetic pulse): “Communications equipment (cell towers, etc.) electronics destroyed or disrupted, computer equipment electrical components destroyed, control systems electrical components destroyed, water and electrical system control components destroyed or disrupted, and other electronic devices damage.” Up to four miles from ground zero, “it may be days before communications capabilities are reestablished. Within this area, all communications capabilities will be destroyed or severely hindered.”