Schools, colleges, and universities are diverse communities that present especially challenging situations. Safety officials know that they have to be extremely well prepared for a vast array of potentially difficult situations that can spiral. Fortunately, many resources exist to help communities prepare for such dangerous scenarios.
The internet has revolutionized the way modern populations live their lives. From communication to commerce, the internet has changed the way people fundamentally operate. This extends to the life sciences as well. Technology and equipment once only found in research laboratories or universities can now be ordered online and shipped direct to the purchaser’s doorstep.
As a metaphor for picturing the maintenance of preparedness, imagine a number of 5-gallon buckets, where each one represents some aspect of readiness - detection, personal protective equipment (PPE), communications, training, etc. Each bucket is filled with water and ideally each would stay filled representing a steady state of preparedness.
In today's climate of austere budgets, federal, state, local, tribal, and private sector training managers need to get the most out of the scarce dollars that are available. A risk-based approach and assessment will help discern who needs what training, the specific levels of that training, and refresher training requirements.
First responder safety is the immediate goal when approaching and operating in an emergency response scenario. Not only does keeping personnel safe keep experts up at night, it is a priority for equipment manufacturers responsible for the design, function, and purpose of responder tools used in dangerous situations and environments.
The only way to be prepared is to be well trained and well educated, which are essential components to effectively respond to and mitigate threats from chemical, biological, and radiological incidents. Evidence-based response requires the knowledge of the threat, training in skills needed to be effective, and the ability - based on sound judgment to apply the appropriate knowledge and skills to ensure an effective response.
Radiological and nuclear sources pose a wider variety of threats than many realize. By understanding the threat and leveraging federal requirements such as the Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA), emergency managers can better equip themselves and their communities to prevent, protect against, and respond to incidents related to these threats.
Law enforcement personnel operating in their communities have been trained to report suspicious activity sightings to their headquarters. Firefighters, emergency medical service providers, public health officials, and other first responders have been asked to "Remain Alert for Suspicious Activity." Now, every citizen and visitor plays a critical role in preventing terrorist threats.
Many communities - large and small - have recovered from disasters. Some have been successful, while others struggle to return. Disasters affect hundreds of communities nationwide every year and - at some point in time - each is confronted with the hard reality of recovering from a disaster. When the national attention and bright lights of the media fade, communities need to be prepared to recover.
Public health practice parallels the whole community approach advocated by 21st century emergency management practitioners. Therefore, public health's emergency preparedness actions integrate nicely with contemporary emergency management practice. Several methodologies of public health practice lend themselves to collaboration with other planning and response disciplines. By examining these methods, public health can extend and maximize its role in community-based emergency planning, response, and recovery.