As part of the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program (CWBYCTP), contractors must have an emergency response process in place. Additionally, the CWBYCTP has created a specialized group, the Radiation Injury Treatment Network® (RITN). The RITN was developed to respond to a potential disaster resulting in mass casualties with marrow dangerous injuries from harmful radiation exposure or other hazardous material (such as sulfur mustard). The marrow creates new blood-forming cells each and every day. If the marrow is damaged and cannot do this, a person may need a bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. Many of the casualties with radiation injury from such an incident will be salvageable but will require outpatient and/or inpatient care.
RITN aims to accomplish this:
- Before the disaster, RITN hospitals develop treatment guidelines for managing hematologic toxicity among victims of radiation exposure and educate health care professionals about pertinent aspects of radiation exposure management through training and disaster exercises.
- During the disaster, RITN hospitals provide comprehensive evaluation and treatment in an inpatient and outpatient setting for these victims; the RITN control cell helps to coordinate the response through sharing critical information about the disaster between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and RITN hospitals.
- After the disaster, RITN hospitals collect patient treatment data for retrospective research through the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplantation Research (CIBMTR), another DoT CWBYCTP contractor.
The RITN has developed and offers to those who are interested web based training related to radiological disaster preparedness. Additionally, it coordinates training opportunities for its network of transplant centers, donor centers, and cord blood banks. All other CWBYCTP centers and cord blood banks are informed about the RITN and may be asked to help during an emergency that exceeds the response capabilities of the RITN.
Each facility incorporates the RITN Acute Radiation Syndrome treatment guidelines into their response plans, conducts annual radiological disaster training, communication drills and participates in an annual situational tabletop exercise (a scenario-based discussion of the response process) to assess and improve plans, procedures, and staff preparedness.
The RITN conducts a number of exercises each year to assess current planning and training efforts being made across the network. These exercises vary from discussion based tabletop exercises (TTX) to complex multi-day full-scale exercises (FSE) simulating casualties arriving at the hospital via the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS). Each year the RITN develops an annual TTX that all network hospitals must participate in. This exercise is conducted utilizing web-based tools that allow hospitals to share best practices and discuss issues as a group.
Through the RITN Exercise Grant Program network hospitals are able to receive grants to support the development and conduct of additional functional and full scale exercises. These grants allow hospitals to validate their current plans and procedures related to an RITN activation and bring in local, state and federal stakeholders to participate.
In addition to RITN sponsored exercises the RITN provides technical support to local and state jurisdictions developing radiological exercises.
RITN Center Locations
Centers are dispersed throughout the United States; some are pediatric treatment centers.