Given the increasing number of operational nuclear reactors worldwide, combined with the continued use of radioactive materials in both healthcare and industry, the unlikely occurrence of a civilian nuclear incident poses a small but real danger. This article provides an overview of the most important historical, medical, and scientific aspects associated with the most notable nuclear incidents to date. We have discussed fundamental principles of radiation monitoring, triage considerations, and the short- and long-term management of radiation exposure victims. The provision and maintenance of adequate radiation safety among first responders and emergency personnel are emphasized. Finally, an outline is included of decontamination, therapeutic, and prophylactic considerations pertaining to exposure to various radioactive materials.
Keywords: Civilian nuclear incident; radiation monitoring; radiation syndromes; radioactive exposure.