Many actively practicing medical professionals are trained and available to deploy to the site of a natural or manmade disaster within hours after an event occurs. Although these medical professionals work with established and traditional leadership styles during their regular “day jobs,” the complex nature of disasters requires leadership approaches in the field that may seem inconsistent or even contradictory.
As one of the top 10 disaster-prone states in the nation, Florida continues to strengthen its ability to prepare for and respond to any disaster requiring specialized emergency surgical or critical care medicine. With shrinking budgets and increased demand, building effective and rapid disaster medical response capabilities requires more than just collaboration among governments, healthcare providers, hospitals, and the private sector.
A cohesive, well-developed disaster response team is essential to prevent adverse incidents and lives lost. Meeting current safety guidelines must be enculturated for a successful program, thus saving lives and providing optimal quality of life after a major disaster. Completing the minimal requirements for tasks to meet current safety guidelines is not enough to save lives.
On 7 June 2016, the Cambridge (Massachusetts) Police Department conducted a law enforcement officer training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to help bridge the understanding gap between officers and the citizens they serve. The training included more than 20 Cambridge career police officers and more than 15 representatives from collaborating local service providers.
Planning the response to a public health emergency can be a daunting endeavor. Many factors in multiple complex systems contribute to the potential for success in executing these plans at every level of the response. Preparedness planners have to consider these many factors to ensure that their plans can work despite potential failure points.
Most chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) critical incidents differ from more common hazardous materials (hazmat) events by virtue of four factors: broader scope, enhanced physical toxicity, malicious intent, and the potential to do the unimaginable. The net effect is new levels of stress and psychological toxicity.
With the current amount of discussion and media coverage regarding the spreading Zika virus and the mounting concerns over antibiotic drug resistance, public health remains a critical homeland security and emergency preparedness priority. Unfortunately, it is often a fluctuating priority that does not receive consistent attention, action, and funding to prepare for future known and unknown public health threats.
Although avian influenza outbreaks occur periodically in poultry flocks, only recently has avian influenza been considered a significant threat to human health and the global economy. The 1997 emergence of H5N1 first brought attention to avian influenza's ability to cause disease in humans. However, human infection with influenza from avian sources is not a new phenomenon.
The term "situational awareness" typically conjures images of emergency responders on the scene of a complex incident with many emergency vehicles and various levels of activity, both command and operationally oriented. Public health normally does not enter into the equation, but perhaps it is time to change that thinking.
Responders in the pre-hospital emergency medical field must be in a state of readiness at all times. Working on the front lines of an emergency incident requires the ability to leverage external resources, the determination to harden operations, and the skillfulness to manage patient surge.