Public Safety Personnel Potentially Exposed to Radiation at Crash Scene

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930,

Prince George’s County Public Safety officials including firefighters, paramedics, police officers and the Fire/EMS Department PIO (me) were potentially exposed to moderate amounts of radiation at the scene of a motor vehicle crash.  On Monday, March 19, 2012, an incident was dispatched at around 12:15 pm reporting a motor vehicle crash with occupants trapped at the intersection of Hillmeade Road and Woodmore Boulevard in Glenn Dale.   Public Safety Officials arrived quickly and found a 2-vehicle broadside crash involving a pick-up truck and overturned work van.  An adult male driver occupied each vehicle with no passengers.  The driver of the overturned van self evacuated through the windshield and the pick up driver was removed by firefighters out of the passenger side door.  Firefighters and Paramedics worked diligently in treating the patients and securely packaging them for transport to an area trauma center for non-life threatening injuries.  Police Officers went about their responsibility in determining the cause of the crash, gathering vehicle and driver information and controlling traffic.

After the patient care was completed and the patients were on the way to the hospital it was noticed that debris laying around the crash scene had been ejected from the back of the pick-up truck.  Upon further inspection it was determined the debris included a portable “soil density gauge.” 

A soil density gauge uses very small amounts of radioactive material to produce just enough radiation to measure the density of soils and asphalt. They measure the compaction density of foundations under buildings and roadways as well as the compaction of newly laid asphalt.  These devices are typically used by civil engineers and construction companies.

Firefighters immediately isolated the area and and requested the Fire/EMS Department Hazardous Materials Team to the scene.  The haz-mat team used detection tools and found a moderate amount of radiation was being emitted.  The soil density gauge remained isolated and the owner of the company whose truck ejected the gauge was contacted to secure it.

The radiation emitting gauge was removed by the company that owns it without further incident.  Fifteen Fire/EMS Department career members and one civilian employee were notified of the potential of radiation exposure and completed documentation noting same.

Public Safety Communications were notified to alert the County Police Officers that were on the scene and the hospital of the possible exposure.

There is no immediate health care concern or treatment required for potential exposure.  The Fire/EMS Department Haz-Mat Coordinator will be following up with other appropriate agencies concerning this incident.

These photos were taken by myself prior to recognizing the “soil density gauge.”  The gauge can not be seen.

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