Dallas, Philadelphia, and Boston

This past week, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Boston were elevated to Homeland Security’s Tier 1 list of urban areas at high risk for terrorism.  Tier 1 status means that additional funding is available for increased security measures.

Cities in Tier 1: Dallas, Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles, Newark, NJ, New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Houston, and Chicago.

Trends

Every morning, I spend about 20 minutes looking over my RSS news feeds, all related to emergency preparedness.  Currently, most of the news is about the just-ended hurricane season, however, I’ve noticed a trend toward a greater concern about the threat of bioterrorism.  The two events that seem to have prompted this concern are the release of the  progress report by the  Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism coupled with the amount of time it has taken to distribute the H1N1 vaccine.  The Commission’s report warns that “The biological threat is greater than the nuclear; the acquisition of deadly pathogens, and their weaponization and dissemination in aerosol form, would entail fewer technical hurdles than the theft or production of weapons-grade uranium or plutonium and its assembly into an improvised nuclear device.” This warning along with the potential of an accidental incident dealing with harzardous materials should prompt us all to be looking at our shelter-in-place procedures.

Cyber terrorism is also getting a lot of attention, thanks in part by last month’s 60 Minutes report.  A potential target, experts warn, is the power grid, so you may want to keep your print core textbooks accessible and up-to-date.

Statistically, December is the month with the fewest tornadoes, so this is a good time to be looking over your tornado response procedures.  We’re also seeing a downward trend of H1N1 activity.  Hopefully, you all have a solid pandemic plan in place  in the event that the virus spikes again in the winter or spring.  (If not, check out our Pandemic Planning Resources page.) And if you have a pandemic plan, you are therefore ready for a severe winter storm, as many of the steps you would take in a pandemic (e.g. reduced staffing, work from home) you could also take with a severe winter storm.

Smallpox Vaccine

I had my flu shot this morning, which, for some reason, made me think of the smallpox vaccine. According to the CDC, the United States has a big enough stockpile of the smallpox vaccine for everyone in the United States. For a nice overview of the smallpox vaccine, which includes a section on possible side effects, please click on the following site.

Wake-up Call!

Check this out!  Did we think that our procedures are fine for shelter-in-place?  Take a look at this document from the “Redefining Readiness” work group, authored by some very well-spoken people from the New York Academy of Medicine.  Having any procedure is better than none, I suppose, but the questions raised by this document are as good as “lessons learned” before the event happens!  Back to the drawing board we go!

Continuous Cycle of Preparedness

 Below is an excerpt from Disaster Planning Drills and Readiness Assessment presenting a continuous cycle of disaster preparedness.  The emphasis of the entire brief is on bioterrorism planning for hospitals.

The Continuous Cycle of Disaster Preparedness

  • Assemble an interdisciplinary team of key stakeholders for disaster planning.
  • Review current resources, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Develop a detailed, written disaster response plan.
  • Disseminate and practice the plan through education and drills.
  • Evaluate the adequacy of knowledge, skills, and resources.
  • Revise the plan based on objective data and lessons learned.
  • Modify education and training as needed to target areas of weakness.
  • Continuously repeat these steps.