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BSOSCBlog.com • View topic - The Perfect Disaster Storm: Wrong capabilities, wrong approa

The Perfect Disaster Storm: Wrong capabilities, wrong approa

The Perfect Disaster Storm: Wrong capabilities, wrong approa

Postby Elizabeth » Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:24 pm

The following is from a much longer article on the state of disaster response in the US at the current time. You can not depend on local, state or federal support . In order to survive a disaster, we each need to accept responsibility for our own supplies and knowledge.

Much more info here


Wrong Capabilities: During the 1950s and 1960s the United States effectively planned for a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union. Leaders prepared the population for the real world consequences of an attack, and built healthcare capabilities to care for the huge surge of patients which were expected.

The Federal officials didn’t say…. “Healthcare is a Private Sector responsibility” and “Our planning and response approach will be to provide grant dollars and advice to American hospitals for nuclear casualty care.”

America had recently fought World War II and the Korean War and there was no shortage of medical and public health experts with real-life experience in developing mobile hospitals (like the ones we saw in the TV show MASH), as well as building inventories of and supply systems capable of distributing pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and equipment as well as a full complement of facility support equipment to sustain mobile hospital operations in the field.

Also, during those years we also had a very robust Public Health Infrastructure and a well staffed Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, experienced in hands-on patient care.

The Office of Civil Defense, the forerunner of FEMA, looked to the medical logisticians who had designed the medical facilities and support systems for the hundreds of thousands of war wounded, to design a Disaster Medical Care system.

These folks designed the Packaged Disaster Hospitals which would augment the Private Sector Healthcare Industry for caring for casualties resulting from a Soviet Union attack or any other large scale disaster or catastrophe.

The system they designed was called the “Civil Defense Program” and depending on who you talk to, the US built 2,600 Packaged Disaster Hospitals to care for the anticipated medical care needs of America during a nuclear attack.

Each of these Packaged Disaster Hospitals had 200 beds, 3 operating rooms, autoclaves an X-ray machine and Laboratory department, a back-up power generator and enough medical supplies to last for 7 days without resupply. These hospitals were backed up with a vast network of 21 GSA warehouses full of medical sustainment supplies and pharmaceuticals.

Federal Health Officials understood the need to reinforce the Private Sector hospitals and medical centers.

Today, any major National disaster will likely cause irreparable damage to the healthcare supply chain and thus, to the American Healthcare Industry itself.

In 2010, if a catastrophic attack takes place in a major American city (or worse, in multiple American sites), the Federal Government now has only cots and blanket sets with little more than sick room supplies with which to open or support state and local shelters.

While it is in writing that these Federal Sets are for sub-acute care only, these assets will inevitably be used as overflow facilities for overwhelmed hospitals. These units, known as Federal Medical Stations, are not supported with a dedicated medical logistics supply chain, and cannot provide care for trauma, burn, acute pain, diabetics, and persons with mental health diseases, people in need of dialysis or folks with a host of other special needs.

Recent testimony of FEMA officials indicated that they were not prepared to meet the needs of the most vulnerable among us; Persons with Disabilities.

Today, we have a profound shortage of senior-level disaster response experience at the Federal response agencies. A recent, vivid reminder of this was in the initial Federal response to the Gulf Oil Spill. We simply didn’t have the operational leaders who were able to pull together people with the right skill sets from Industry to give the President the options he needed in the early days of the disaster.

Instead of hiring an appropriate mix of academics and very senior operations experts, Federal response agencies are “top heavy” with persons with only academic preparation and not enough “been there done that,” boots on the ground type folks.

Often, academics and “Think Tank” experts who have little if any operational experience at all are developing operational policies. They simply do not know how to begin to develop operational response plans and develop mission support and logistics support plans. They may not understand the requirements development processes for mobile medical facilities; special needs support sets and in building and managing inventories of medical materials to augment healthcare, public health and non-governmental organizations during disaster operations and throughout the recovery process.

Worse, some of these folks may not know the additional experience they need to acquire in order to develop an effective Medical Disaster Response System.

Thus, when a public health or medical response fails during a major catastrophe, these same folks may feel that with all their knowledge, if they couldn’t develop robust response systems, certainly, no one else could have.

There is certainly a place for those exceptionally prepared at major universities and those with extensive research backgrounds, but there is also a critical need for operational experts who know how to design, refine, build, field, sustain, recover and reconstitute a complete medical and public health disaster response system for ESF-8 and ESF-6 support.

We don’t need another helpless Federal response like we saw in the Gulf Coast oil spill. The American People deserve competence in their Federal response agencies and the peace of mind that comes from knowing what they need to do and what and when to expect help from local, state and federal response agencies.
Elizabeth
 
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