Tod H. Richards, MPH, CLSO, Radiation Safety & Nuclear Medicine Physicist
2. What is your educational background?
My background is in Nuclear Mechanical Operation, Submarines, I was in the U.S. Navy from 82–88. I have a B.S. in Natural Resources Management & Engineering from the University of Connecticut –92, and a M.P.H. degree from The University of Connecticut –05; I am a Husband of 24 years to my wife Cathy, and father of our two teen-aged daughters, Samantha and Tessa. (Wish I could make up an educational title acronym for all that!)
3. Where do you work?
Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, NJ
4. When did you start working with lasers?
I started with lasers and laser safety while employed as a Radiation Safety Specialist with the University of Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Health & Safety. In or around 2003, it was determined that due to the blossoming use of Class 3b and 4 lasers throughout campus; a more formalized laser safety program was warranted. With the blessing of the Radiation Safety Officer and the backing of the University Administration, the assistance of several of my co-workers, and the amazing cooperation of the university research community, I established a laser program at UConn complete with a charter statement, a Laser Safety Committee (comprised of representative laser users), and myself as the LSO. In addition, with the key assistance of several lasers experts and already established laser safety programs across the U.S., I developed a comprehensive Laser Safety Manual for use by the research community.
I am currently the designated LSO at Hackensack University Medical Center and have been since my arrival here in 2005. Being that HackensackUMC is a fairly large medical facility with broad array of lasers applications in a variety of locations in the Northern NJ area, the program is very different and presents unique challenges as compared to a pure research facility.
5. How did you become the LSO?
At the University of Connecticut, I actually asked to perform the role. I’m glad that I did, as I believe that most of the research community appreciated and welcomed the establishment of a safety program. When I arrived at HackensackUMC, I noted the wide use of lasers however, no formal laser safety program or LSO. I inquired about the LSO position and was subsequently designated as such.
6. Do you like being the LSO?
Yes, I enjoyed establishing a new program at the University of Connecticut and am proud of that achievement. I look forward to continuing my efforts at HackensackUMC to gain administration support towards establishing a campus-wide laser safety program; a challenge indeed in the world of medical practice.
7. How has becoming certified helped/benefited you in your career?
Well, aside from requiring me to obtain the knowledge base necessary to successfully complete the examination process, I find it has helped establish my legitimacy in efforts to (1) communicate with administration the need to establish formalized laser safety programs, and (2) more importantly at the medical center, communicate successfully with medical personnel (e.g. Physicians, Nursing, and Biomedical personnel, etc.), real laser safety concerns and preventative measures.