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Civil defense in Rochester

Wednesday, August 29, 1951

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Bill Leonard introduces this week's Plan for Survival. This episode was produced by WHAM in Rochester, NY.


Jack Hooley introduces the concept of "no second chance" for the enemy, and that they will attempt to make their one chance as effective as possible. Dr. Joe W. Howland, Director of Medical Division, Atomic Energy Project, University of Rochester, and formerly of the Manhattan Project discusses this topic with Charles Hibbard, a former British air raid warden.


Hooley describes the attack on Nagasaki, where there was no raid warning and only 400 people were in shelters at the time of the blast. An atom blast, according to Howland, has three main "punches": heat, blast, and radiation. He recalls talking to a doctor from Japan about his experience when the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. He and Hibberd remind listeners about the importance of haste when seeking cover and reiterate that glass is a killer and must be avoided.


Dr. Howland discusses radiation poisoning, he claims that "only 15% of those in Hiroshima died of radiation sickness."


Mr. Hibbard discusses blood transfusions - he has donated 85 pints in England, and 9 more since coming to the United States.


The three men go on to talk about the impact of a bomb on Rochester. They reiterate the importance of preparation.


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection


WNYC archives id: 71577
Municipal archives id: LT1840

Hosted by:

Bill Leonard

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About Plan For Survival

"Maybe you, maybe me.  Death and destruction ... Panic in the streets ..." Not a program for pre-bedtime listening, these recordings examine the impossibility of sufficiently preparing for nuclear winter.

With surprisingly calm moderators, the Plan for Survival series (1950-1951) goes beyond the usual "duck and cover" advisement and into the details of an A-bomb attack, fallout shelters, the Soviet threat, first aid, radiation sickness, and food and water supplies following a nuclear attack. Guests include civilians recounting their survival experiences in wartime, like the missile blitzes in England.

The show was transcribed for the Civil Defense Network, which "linked virtually every radio station in New York State and operates entirely by air. It can function even if regular radio lines are destroyed." Bill Leonard hosts with expert panelists, and most programs consist of a balance of speculation and civil information for New York State in general and New York City in particular.  Intended to be a public service announcement for a new nuclear age, the record of these programs now serves to add perspective to 21st century fears —from suffocating due to sinus congestion to bags left in the subway. It's clear -- death comes from above.

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