Nevada emergency teams lead nation in disaster planning
Frank Siracusa of the Nevada Division of Emergency Management says that even while hoping it never happens, his staff is planning for the worst: A nuclear attack by terrorists in Reno or Las Vegas.
He emphasized there is no evidence that any such attack is being planned or even possible at this point. But he said the state must plan for such an event to be ready if anything that serious ever does happen.
“We need to be prepared to move to protect life and property,” he said during a press conference on the state’s emergency planning.
Gov. Jim Gibbons joined him saying, “It’s not that we know or believe an incident is going to occur. Nevada is just leading the way in planning.”
Gibbons said Nevada, working with federal agencies, will develop the model for other states to build on.
Officials agreed the Las Vegas Strip is the most likely target in Nevada – and potentially one of the top five targets in America.
According to the experts, a 10 kiloton nuclear device exploded there would kill up to 150,000 at ground zero and another 50,000 within a one-mile radius. More than 40,000 would be injured. A similar attack is Reno would produce a third to half that number of casualties.
Planning, experts said, must provide guidance in handling the entire event from the first indications of an actual threat to the immediate response to the blast through recovery. It will produce plans for everything including the surge in medical needs, handling the mass of dead bodies, providing medical, food and other supplies as well as shelter, decontamination, rescue operations, security and restoration of critical infrastructure including communications, water and power.
Nevada, Siracusa said, is the first state in the nation to begin developing a model plan. The draft plan is supposed to be rolled out in May and tested in exercises set for July. It will be finalized some time in September.