The nation currently faces an age of bioengineered viral pandemics and collapse. Advances in biotechnology enable nations, terrorist groups, or even lone wolves to create genetically modified organisms (GMOs) such as a human-to-human transmissible version of avian flu or to modify a lethal virus to facilitate a longer period of contagion and undetected spread before symptoms manifest. Bioengineering enables almost anyone to modify and release a new virus that, in addition to a pandemic, could cause an ensuing collapse in economic activity as well as loss of law and order as people react to the threat. Some experts say that the threat of a natural or bioengineered viral pandemic is already here. As it becomes increasingly easier to modify existing pathogens, the threat will also rise as these pathogens are made to be more lethal and more transmissible.
Emerging threats of yesteryear seemed unrealistic, so allocating funds and resources to such threats was not a priority for many agencies and organizations. Today, some of those “unrealistic” scenarios have become almost commonplace. As a result, having a three-day kit, knowing how to stop the bleed, and training for an active shooter event no longer seem unusual. However, communities are still generally greatly unprepared for what is yet to come tomorrow.
Dear DomPrep Readers,
On Wednesday, January 1, 2020, I published a six month review along with a publisher message. I received a thought provoking reply from Mr. James Rush that I need to share with you. Jim is very well known and respected in the Emergency Management arena and is a frequent contributor to DomPrep.
I agree with his five points and ask if you agree as well. Please find a link to a flash poll that I encourage you to take. Please feel free to forward this email to your colleagues to also get their input. Let me know if you find this useful.
Martin D. (Marty) Masiuk, Founder & Publisher
As numerous past disasters and government exercises have indicated, many people will take advantage of overwhelmed police to loot and maraud. “Preppers” are well aware of this threat, but it may be politically incorrect for government officials to honestly address lawlessness and risk offending voters, so they lack preparation for the problem of gangs and armed marauders looting and killing in the wake of a big disaster that overwhelms first responders.
It is interesting to stop for a moment and think, “How did we get here?” The emergency preparedness and response profession has come a long way, offering emergency preparers, responders, and receivers many more invaluable tools at their disposal than their counterparts had in previous years. Over time, plans and procedures have adapted to ever-evolving needs and environments. And technology has advanced beyond the imagination of their predecessors 50 years ago. However, for every advancement, a new challenge(s) emerges.
Understanding history is a critical component of emergency preparedness, response, and resilience. History has a way of exposing preparedness and response gaps and providing a roadmap for best practices going forward. Unfortunately, when not examined and taken into consideration, history tends to repeat itself. As threats evolve over time, the same response to a similar threat (like an active shooter, biological attack, domestic terrorism, or natural disaster) could have even greater consequences. For this and many other reasons, the past must be studied, lessons must be learned, and new approaches must be applied.
There is no way to list or train for the innumerable mass casualty scenarios that a responder could face on any day, at any time, in any place. This means that no emergency response can be perfect and no plan flawless. However, rather than focusing on the “what ifs” after an incident, responders need to decide on the “what nows.” The military and civilian responders to the 16 September 2013 Washington Navy Yard shooting have done that. Not only have the involved agencies created their own lessons learned, they have also coordinated with each other to bridge the response gaps that were exposed. Key takeaways from the shooting as well as actions that have been taken since the incident were shared on 17 September 2019, when public safety agencies throughout the National Capital Region convened to reinforce communications efforts and address any remaining interoperability concerns.
The healthcare industry presents many challenges for emergency preparedness professionals. The planning process for a major crisis involves numerous stakeholders, each with their own plans and procedures. Emergency medical services and hospitals, in particular, are tasked with managing dynamic, ever-changing environments that are difficult to predict. A medical surge could easily lead to shortages in critical resources if mutual aid agreements, healthcare coalitions, and other collaborative efforts are not already in place before disaster strikes.
Each year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Ready campaign recognizes September as National Preparedness Month. Agencies and organizations across the United States participate in this national preparedness effort by sharing educational resources, organizing events, and mobilizing action to help reduce risk and build community resilience. FEMA recognizes that, when individuals and communities prepare for any of the numerous potential threats they may face, the nation as a whole benefits.
After a disaster, stories often emerge about companies and organizations that provided resources and services to aid in the response efforts. Sometimes these are prearranged formal agreements, but often they emerge more spontaneously as the need arises within communities. It, of course, is not possible to plan for every potential threat or scenario. However, there are many actions that could be taken in advance of an emergency to build resilience into any ensuing scenario.