A decade after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region, the effects of underprepared healthcare systems are still apparent. Nearly a year after the first case of Ebola was diagnosed on U.S. soil, the West African nations most affected by the disease remain burdened by insufficient infrastructure to properly isolate and treat patients on a large scale.
Science-based research is useful in analyzing and reducing risks through the development of new technologies for detecting, sampling, and studying various contaminants and unknown substances. Teams of scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory play a large role in ensuring that first responders have the necessary tools to perform their critical tasks.
In this electronic age, there is a constant struggle between sharing critical information and protecting individual privacy with adequate security to prevent data and documents from falling into the wrong hands. To address these concerns, expectations of privacy, knowledge of liabilities, and development of policies must be examined.
Federal spending on public health emergency preparedness, response, and recovery has been falling since 2005, and Congress is now considering how much to spend in the 2016 fiscal year. The final spending figure will play a key role in determining how well the American people are protected from disease, injury, and death in times of emergency.
Sir Earnest Benn, political publisher and British baronet (1875-1954) once said that, "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy." For school safety and security, the stakes of getting it wrong are too high to simply let the normal political process play out.
From a presidential executive order to comprehensive workforce protection, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's infectious disease protection process is constantly evolving. The department's centralized guidance/decentralized execution planning paradigm with reliance on a robust lessons learned process ensures an increasingly resilient workforce against biological threats and hazards.
Following a disaster, communities, tribes, and states typically experience years of rebuilding and recovery work. Understanding the presidential disaster declaration process and how to access supplemental disaster relief funds helps to speed the recovery efforts and potentially build back even better than before the incident.
Resilience, a central element in any recovery, is established before potentially disastrous events. Twenty-one federally sponsored risk methods and tools were screened for possible use as the core of a defensible, repeatable risk/resilience management process that would capture the greatest benefits for available budgets. None was fully ready for this role, but several hold promise for further improvement.
When planning and training for major disasters, communities often place more emphasis on the response rather than the recovery effort. However, it is critical that the recovery effort begins concurrent to the response in order for communities to be more resilient. New York City recognized this need and exercised one of its recovery plans.
In an ever-changing biological environment, laboratory support is necessary to help responders identify, categorize, and manage incidents involving biological threats. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is one source that provides valuable testing data to help today's first responders collect, screen, identify, and ultimately protect against such threats.