During a bioterrorism event, the need to help 50,000 people seeking lifesaving medications can seem impossible for an already overwhelmed public healthcare facility. One solution for alleviating the congestion is to distribute medical countermeasures through other venues - for example, colleges and universities, businesses, and various private sector agencies and organizations.
Most disaster responses necessarily include a public health component. Emergency managers must always be aware of that fact when dealing with emerging threats and their possible consequences. By incorporating a public health response into emergency management planning, the nation will be much better prepared for the next pandemic or biological attack.
Although traditionally serving the military community, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is now playing an increasingly important role in support of the U.S. civilian community - both domestically and abroad. As recent natural disasters have demonstrated, the Department has both the ability and the willingness to provide services that promote whole-of-community resilience.
Earthquakes have changed the course of rivers, tornadoes have uprooted and moved trees and homes, and other types of disasters have caused terrain and geographical changes that made it difficult for residents to recognize their own neighborhoods. Geographic information systems offer emergency managers and responders a valuable tool to help build more resilient communities.
Many facilities and services that are particularly critical for communities to function at full capacity are also vulnerable to both physical and intellectual harm. One solution to this problem is a unified management approach to protect the capital assets and business relationships needed to continue providing all essential services and tangible products.
The National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) is charged with augmenting the nation's medical response in support of state and local authorities. To accomplish its mission, the NDMS has employed Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) - consisting of professional medical personnel, supported by logistics and administrative teams - across the country. A major mission of DMAT teams is to support healthcare facilities during a disaster or other event that overwhelms normal operations.
Medical and industrial facilities, universities and colleges, cargo containers, and floodwaters have something in common with nuclear power plants - all of them can be a source of nuclear radiation. Knowing where radiation might be "hiding" within a community is the first step that emergency managers should take to protect those who are most likely to be in contact with those sources.
Unsecured and non-declared nuclear and radiological materials make a deadly combination, particularly attractive to terrorists. Forestalling the threat of any attack using weapons of mass destruction requires careful consideration of not only the sources of the materials used and the technological capabilities of those building such weapons but also the security at facilities where the materials may be stored.
It takes special equipment, and specially trained people, to rescue anyone trapped in a massive silo containing thousands of bushels of grain. Knowing what to do and how to do it - safely and successfully - could prevent fatalities caused by suffocation, toxic inhalation, or even an explosion.
Subject matter experts play a key role in protecting both real and virtual space. Although they may not consider themselves to be "experts," many private sector stakeholders play a critical part in protecting the nation by sharing their specialized knowledge with the law enforcement community.