In September 2016, more than 30 people gathered at the Harvard Faculty club to discuss topics related to leadership and the decision-making process. Most in the room had been faced with making critical life-and-death decisions at some point in their careers, and some on a regular basis. These participants were asked to share their knowledge about what it takes to make high-consequence decisions.
Law enforcement and healthcare organizations – including emergency medical services (EMS), trauma centers, and other hospitals – have a common mission in active shooter attacks: saving lives. Law enforcement stops the shooter, healthcare stops the bleeding, but both must work together to ensure early access to victims and their rapid evacuation.
Schools, colleges, and universities are diverse communities that present especially challenging situations. Safety officials know that they have to be extremely well prepared for a vast array of potentially difficult situations that can spiral. Fortunately, many resources exist to help communities prepare for such dangerous scenarios.
The internet has revolutionized the way modern populations live their lives. From communication to commerce, the internet has changed the way people fundamentally operate. This extends to the life sciences as well. Technology and equipment once only found in research laboratories or universities can now be ordered online and shipped direct to the purchaser’s doorstep.
As a metaphor for picturing the maintenance of preparedness, imagine a number of 5-gallon buckets, where each one represents some aspect of readiness - detection, personal protective equipment (PPE), communications, training, etc. Each bucket is filled with water and ideally each would stay filled representing a steady state of preparedness.
In today's climate of austere budgets, federal, state, local, tribal, and private sector training managers need to get the most out of the scarce dollars that are available. A risk-based approach and assessment will help discern who needs what training, the specific levels of that training, and refresher training requirements.
First responder safety is the immediate goal when approaching and operating in an emergency response scenario. Not only does keeping personnel safe keep experts up at night, it is a priority for equipment manufacturers responsible for the design, function, and purpose of responder tools used in dangerous situations and environments.
The only way to be prepared is to be well trained and well educated, which are essential components to effectively respond to and mitigate threats from chemical, biological, and radiological incidents. Evidence-based response requires the knowledge of the threat, training in skills needed to be effective, and the ability - based on sound judgment to apply the appropriate knowledge and skills to ensure an effective response.
Radiological and nuclear sources pose a wider variety of threats than many realize. By understanding the threat and leveraging federal requirements such as the Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA), emergency managers can better equip themselves and their communities to prevent, protect against, and respond to incidents related to these threats.