The administration's development and release of an "Implementation Plan" to deal with pandemic influenza is a helpful start - but no more than that. Few if any states or cities are taking the steps needed to protect their citizens.
The triage goal is to maximize the number of lives saved. But to do so requires some extremely difficult decisions from the EMT on the scene, particularly in mass-casualty incidents when time is limited and information is in short supply.
What are the best indicators of victim survivability? The RPMs provide a few clues that can be used to START processing. But continuing updates and additional analyses are needed to improve the decision-making process.
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.
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.
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.
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.