No two emergency scenarios are identical and some may call for "creative" solutions - for example, overriding triage strategies for victims of a weapon of mass destruction or substituting medications for scarce countermeasures. Understanding the rules and how far they can "bend" in a crisis situation may help save not only the lives of victims but also the jobs of responders and decision makers.
If a nuclear device were to be detonated within any of the nations major metropolitan areas, the healthcare system both inside and outside the blast-damage zones would be seriously affected. Predicting the "what ifs" and planning for such scenarios can help hospitals and responder agencies cope with and manage the numerous deaths and injuries that may certainly occur.
As a result of severe weather events such as the 2010 "Snowmaggedon" and an increasing number of other natural disasters, the nation's public health sector is increasing and expanding its professional capabilities and playing a greater role in responding to such events. In doing so, public health is using an all-hazards approach to preparing for and responding to natural and manmade events.
Whether responding to mass casualties from a nuclear blast or an attack by a single "Lone Wolf" shooter, hospital preparedness requires careful planning, effective coordination, and collaboration in the sharing of critical resources. Inter-hospital cooperation and training will almost always result in a better outcome than would be possible through single-facility planning efforts.
On 9 August 1945, the Japanese port city of Nagasaki experienced a devastating nuclear attack that not only led to the end of World War II but also had long-lasting effects. Preparing for a nuclear blast and the radiological dangers that follow requires careful planning to ensure effective personal protective equipment, proper isolation procedures, and optimum decontamination processes.
The allocation of the 700 MHz D Block network for the public safety sector means that many jurisdictions are now faced with important purchasing decisions - as well as decisions about their existing communications systems. Regardless of the type of equipment, brand, or price, the resilience of operations must be a key factor in the decision-making process.
In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, reporters show images of communities that are faced with destruction and a need to rebuild. However, there is often an even greater devastation with even harder pieces to pick up - the mental and physical health effects. Both types of recovery are required and both should be included in a community's resilience framework.
An earthquake devastates Haiti, a tsunami smashes into northeast Japan, tornadoes rip through major U.S. cities - all of these disasters attracted responders from around the world who had volunteered to help in the aftermath. Some of the volunteers were well prepared and went through proper channels, but others created additional work for the authorities responsible for ensuring the safety and security of responders and survivors alike.
The official verdict of the 2012 NPR assessment of the nation's "Public Health and Medical Services" capabilities is encouraging: Headed in the right direction, numerous milestones already passed, and overall progress more than satisfactory. However, major concerns still exist in an era of reduced federal funding and additional cutbacks in the foreseeable future.
During a medical emergency, navigating through large crowds requires more than just lights and sirens. By strategically placing resources, understanding the type of crowd, and preparing for all-hazards events, medical teams will be better equipped to rapidly respond as needs arise.