There are several ways, none of them easy-or 100 percent certain-to fight a pandemic that could kill hundreds of thousands of everyday citizens. The Los Alamos project suggests that the first-responder focus should be on vaccinations.
The members of EMS units are among the first to respond to major disasters in their home communities. They also are on the front lines of danger, particularly in HazMat incidents, and for that reason alone must be among the best prepared & protected.
Federal, state, and local disaster-preparedness plans all emphasize the need for adequate medical support. But very little has yet been done to ensure that such support will in fact be available when it is actually needed.
U.S. medical system is the world's finest in many respects. However, few if any American hospitals are properly staffed & equipped to deal with this year's hurricanes, much less one or more new terrorist attacks that could cause thousands of casualties.
From the Black Plague through colonial days to SARS outbreaks, the practice of isolating infected people from the rest of society has been considered a necessary evil. It has not always been a helpful one, & healthcare professionals have paid the price.
The laws are in place, but are usually unenforceable. Transportation assets are available, but are almost always overcommitted. Clear mandates from local, state, & federal decisionmakers are obviously needed to restore order from the current chaos.
It used to be two strong men and a hearse. Modern EMS workers are now much better equipped to provide early lifesaving support both at the scene of an accident or incident and while en route to the nearest hospital or other medical facility.
The time is NOW to develop detailed plans for the implementation of the mutual-aid agreements without which almost all hospitals in any given area of the country will be forced to rely on stopgap measures--inadequate and too late--to cope with a major di