Commentary

Whole Community – Threats & Solutions

by Catherine L. Feinman -

The concept of a whole community approach has been recommended for years. However, it has perhaps not been more important than it is today. Compounding events, or disasters within disasters, are why emergency planners stress the importance of planning for the worst but hoping for the best. Well, the time to implement these plans is now. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic does not appear to be ending anytime soon. However, life must go on. “Normal” seasonal disasters like wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods will not wait for communities to replenish supplies, reallocate resources, and hire more staff. Human-caused threats may escalate as bad actors take advantage of physical and technological vulnerabilities that the pandemic exposes. The common primary, secondary, and tertiary effects of smaller threats worsen when compounded with the pandemic response.

Disasters & Their Acceptable Losses

by Catherine L. Feinman -

One of the biggest challenges that emergency preparedness professionals face is how to balance the choices they make. Mitigating every risk is not realistic, but ignoring threats is reprehensible. Lessons learned from any disaster exposes the successes and failures of those tasked with keeping their communities safe. Some decisions have immediate impact, whereas the consequences of other decisions may not be seen until sometime in the future. In both cases, people are watching and decision makers will be held accountable.

The Acceptable Loss – The Trolley Dilemma of Managing COVID-19 Pandemic

by Isaac Ashkenazi & Carmit Rapaport -

The COVID-19 pandemic takes its toll in terms of human lives and global economic consequences. Social distancing has proven to be the most promising strategy against emerging viruses without borders, but the heavy economic damage that follows puts in question the possibility of its continuation. In fact, weighing the two elements raises an important debate: What is the acceptable loss in order to win this battle?

Call to Action for “Unprecedented” Events

by Catherine L. Feinman -

News agencies often use the term “unprecedented” when referring to COVID-19 and other recent disasters and events. Unprecedented refers to something that was not known or experienced before. However, it is often used synonymously with the word “unexpected.” Of course, COVID-19 did not exist before 2019, Hurricane Sandy did not exist before 2012, the U.S. was not attacked by terrorists on the scale of 9/11 before 2001, and so on.

Triggered Collapse, Part 6: A Nationwide Call to Action

by Drew Miller -

Similar to pandemic preparedness, the U.S. government is not doing enough to prepare for failure of municipal water systems when the electric grid goes down. Government programs do not address loss of law and order or cessation of food production and delivery services. Elected and appointed officials often downplay the number of deaths to be expected and the lack of preventative measures. They also do not acknowledge people taking advantage of stresses on law enforcement to loot and maraud in the event of a collapse. Swift action is needed now to mitigate potential consequences of a future triggered collapse.

Triggered Collapse, Part 5: Gaps in National Disaster Planning Scenarios

by Drew Miller -

In contrast to experts’ estimates of millions of deaths, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) pandemic influenza planning scenario refers to just 87,000 casualties – not much more than a bad seasonal flu. This version of the scenario seen in public forums has planning assumptions on virus lethality, worker absenteeism, and maintenance of law and order that are irresponsibly optimistic. When planning for security, it is better to err on the side of worst-case scenarios. The DHS uses 15 National Planning Scenarios. Scenario 3 is “Biological Disease Outbreak – Pandemic Influenza,” and Scenario 4 is “Biological Attack – Pneumonic Plague.”

A Family Tradition – Old School Florida Smuggling, Chapter 16

by Robert C. Hutchinson -

The evolution of drug smuggling and related crimes in south Florida can be viewed through one family and their many criminal associates. The Barker Family entered the smuggling business in the 1970s and transitioned from marijuana to cocaine and illegal aliens by the 1990s. Through drug and alien loads, broad conspiracies, and multiple deaths, the smuggling group was active, successful, and notorious. This is an account of old school Florida smuggling through the long thread of one small family. It is a bit of a history lesson and a fascinating journey back in time.

A Family Tradition – Old School Florida Smuggling, Chapter 15

by Robert C. Hutchinson -

The evolution of drug smuggling and related crimes in south Florida can be viewed through one family and their many criminal associates. The Barker Family entered the smuggling business in the 1970s and transitioned from marijuana to cocaine and illegal aliens by the 1990s. Through drug and alien loads, broad conspiracies, and multiple deaths, the smuggling group was active, successful, and notorious. This is an account of old school Florida smuggling through the long thread of one small family. It is a bit of a history lesson and a fascinating journey back in time.

A Family Tradition – Old School Florida Smuggling, Chapter 14

by Robert C. Hutchinson -

The evolution of drug smuggling and related crimes in south Florida can be viewed through one family and their many criminal associates. The Barker Family entered the smuggling business in the 1970s and transitioned from marijuana to cocaine and illegal aliens by the 1990s. Through drug and alien loads, broad conspiracies, and multiple deaths, the smuggling group was active, successful, and notorious. This is an account of old school Florida smuggling through the long thread of one small family. It is a bit of a history lesson and a fascinating journey back in time.

Triggered Collapse, Part 4: Cascading Consequences Beyond the Event

by Drew Miller -

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security is a credible source for dealing with pandemics and disaster response. In 2018, the Center created a realistic simulation of a moderately contagious and moderately lethal virus, similar to the lethality of the 2002 SARS outbreak, which killed about 10 percent of those infected. Designed by senior scholar Eric Toner, the “Clade X” simulation was based on a virus that was bioengineered and released by a group modelled after Aum Shinrikyo – the cult that released sarin in the Tokyo subway in 1995. According to Toner, researchers are convinced that this scenario is plausible – a virus like this could be created and spread to ultimately kill up to 900 million people if no vaccine were successful. Health care systems would collapse, panic would spread, and the U.S. stock market would crash. Toner warned that a pandemic could cause the collapse of hospital systems, “Most people don’t know how close we came to having that happen in the U.S. in 2009 ... due to a not particularly virulent flu strain.”