Most U.S. hospitals & other healthcare facilities focus their efforts on saving lives & helping those who are seriously injured. The handling of the dead, sometimes a large number at the same time, is a different but almost equally important skill.
The best way to cope with an avian-flu pandemic is to pre-designate certain hospitals as "flu-only" facilities - right? No - absolutely wrong! For a variety of practical, economic, and medical reasons. Here are some of them.
Attention to detail is frequently the principal difference between the success, or failure, of any human endeavor. That is particularly true in times of sudden disaster, when "mere words" - precisely expressed - may have life-or-death implications.
The healthcare failures during and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina received more publicity than the many unpublicized successes. Nonetheless, a new look at hospital emergency management was obviously needed, and is now well underway.
The Commonwealth of Virginia once again provides a best-practices example of the best way to plan for a potential mass-casualty disaster: Ensure that all stakeholders, private-sector as well as government, are fully involved ahead of time, and practice.
Not enough masks and/or medical supplies - those shortages can be overcome. But when there are not enough EMTs or paramedics, or if those who are available are among the early victims, there is no quick and easy way to find replacements.
Prior to 11 September 2001 the term "emergency management" was more an abstract theory than an operational mandate. Today it is a full fledged profession, particularly in hospitals & other medical facilities, so must be factored into all major planning.
The Commonwealth of Virginia provides another best-practices example - this time in the public-health field - of how private-sector organizations can work with one another, and with their government counterparts, before rather than after a crisis erupts.
Disaster planning is difficult, time-consuming, sometimes boring - but also absolutely necessary. And in the long run it conserves resources, permits the most efficient use of the usually limited medical staff available, and saves a lot of lives.
The 2006 assassination of former KGB Colonel Alexander Litvenenko was eventually solved - but there are many questions still unanswered as well as strong suspicions about the operating tactics of Russia's post-USSR political leaders.