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Radiological nuclear emergency responders must be able to coordinate evacuation and relief efforts following the release of radioactive material into populated areas. In order to respond quickly and effectively to a nuclear emergency, high-level coordination is needed between a number of large, independent organizations including police, military, hazmat, and transportation authorities. Given the complexity, scale, speed, and potential negative consequences inherent in radiological emergency responses, tracking and communicating information is crucial towards helping the decision makers respond to a crisis. The emergency response team at the Angra dos Reis nuclear power facility, located outside of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, presently conducts emergency response simulations once every two years in order to prepare organizational leaders for an actual emergency situation. However, current exercises are conducted without the aid of any electronic or software tools, resulting in possible cognitive overload and a slowing of the decision-making process. This paper describes the development of a decision support system employing systems methodologies including cognitive task analysis and human-machine interface design. The decision support system can aid the coordination team by automating cognitive functions and improving information sharing. A prototype of the design will be evaluated by plant officials in Brazil and incorporated to a future trial run of a response simulation.
Date of Conference: 29-29 April 2011