by Ruth Baugher Palmer, Mary McNaughton-Cassill & Mary Schoenfeldt -
Disasters are often described in terms of the physical damages they incur. However, the significant impact on mental health, which can have even longer-term consequences, sometimes is not addressed until after the response phase of the disaster is complete. This article explains the importance of immediately and simultaneously addressing both the physical and psychological effects of an event.
Public health preparedness has emerged and matured as a distinct discipline since the events of 9/11 and the subsequent Ameri-thrax attacks. Although, in the past, public health agencies were pushed to the forefront of various emergencies, the planning and infrastructure for public health emergency response were not funded and not in place until after 2001. This article describes the gaps that need to be addressed as the discipline continues to face public health emergencies worldwide.
When an emergency or disaster occurs, healthcare facilities require reliable communications for ensuring the safety and well-being of those in their care. The New York City Emergency Management Department has revamped its City’s emergency radio communications program to ensure that critical information can be exchanged before the next incident. Their best practice serves as an example for other jurisdictions to upgrade their equipment and build in communication redundancies.
Active shooter and other violent incidents occur all over the country – in urban and rural areas, in big cities and small towns, in large and small facilities. Many examples demonstrate the need to understand and plan for them and the significant consequences that could follow. This article empowers the reader to better understand how these incidents may occur and ways to better mitigate and respond when a healthcare and other facilities are threatened.
It seems that every day over the past two years there are plenty of news stories covering the strain hospitals are facing in staffing shortages and the impacts from a global pandemic. Emergency medical services (EMS) are also dealing with their own similar issues across the nation. Many of these critical facilities and services are located in the proximity of nuclear power plants in which previous agreements were established to provide treatment, patient transportation, radiation monitoring, and decontamination in the event of a patient-generating event within a nuclear power plant’s emergency planning zones.
Since the spring of 2020, variables such as mistrust of government leaders, anti-maskers, and economic concerns complicated COVID-19 community response. The Cynefin framework is a sensemaking theory in the social sciences to create a framework for emergency managers in large-scale events.
An article published in 2013 discussed the considerable challenges of quarantine order implementation and enforcement during a future pandemic or other serious threats to public health. That discussion was after the emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), but before the re-emergence of the Ebola virus in West Africa. The level of preparedness for the rapid execution of federal quarantines has not greatly improved since 2013. The nation’s readiness may have even diminished during the current pandemic due to social, political, and organizational discord.
The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the lives of healthcare workers and first responders – impacts they are still feeling. As workers on the frontlines, these people took a harder hit than the rest of the American population when COVID-19 swept across the nation. Several studies have shown that the pandemic increased a person’s likelihood to have negative impacts on mental health and led to the development of new coping strategies among healthcare workers and first responders.
In an emergency response, multiple groups of stakeholders such as city, county, state, and federal agencies are brought together to solve a crisis or execute a mission. While groups of individuals from within an agency may have a shared understanding of their mission, organization, hierarchy, and norms of engagement, proper coordination between distinct groups takes time, trust, and practice. By the nature of these missions, these are scarce and often intangible resources. Situational awareness through software and expert practitioners substantially increases the odds of mission success.
The buildup to World War II illustrated the negative effect that huge wartime demand for medical supplies, equipment, and pharmaceuticals had on public and private healthcare systems in the United States. After the war, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) began building and pre-positioning federally owned medical materiel in storage depots domestically and materiel management centers in the European and Pacific theaters of operations. Collectively, these inventories were named war reserve materiel (WRM) and consisted of billions of dollars of medical materiel. The WRM was designed to provide wartime start-up supplies until medical materiel manufacturers could ramp up production to levels capable of supporting both wartime and civilian healthcare needs simultaneously. The medical WRM was also used to provide medical support to contingencies and humanitarian assistance missions both at home and abroad.