Having choices opens many opportunities for patients and responders as well as medical staff within the U.S. healthcare system. However, that benefit has led to complications in communications and the sharing of information. Healthcare coalitions are seeking better ways to meet daily operational goals while at the same time expanding the capabilities available to cope with emergency surges and mass-casualty incidents.
One of the geniuses of "the American system" is the frequently complex working relationships between the federal branch of government and the private sector. More than two centuries of experience show that coordination, cooperation, and collaboration continue to be the keys to eventual success - despite some complications from time to time.
The next generation of first responders is starting earlier and growing faster, thanks in large part to new educational initiatives. High school now offers not only initial emergency management courses, but also classroom training with hands-on operational experience, college credits, and opportunities for a broad range of professional careers.
Today, as in the Colonial era, homeland defense and emergency management begin at home. Homeowners and their neighbors are often the first responders available when disaster strikes. Whether they are ready to meet that challenge is not always certain, but individual citizens are starting to learn the fundamentals of planning, preparedness, response, and recovery.
During World War II, the United Kingdom deployed ground, air, and naval forces in a war that affected all nations around the globe. Today, London and the Olympic Games Committee are again preparing for war to cope with a broad spectrum of security threats that could affect the city's own residents as well as visitors from all parts of the world.
Thorough planning that takes into account all of the potential problems, pitfalls, and outright disasters that might be encountered is key to the success of any major special event. Here is a comprehensive list, compiled by a highly respected career professional, of the questions to ask, the intangibles to remember, and the essential resources required to ensure that nothing spoils the party.
In 2011, the City of Virginia Beach hosted a day of special ceremonies honoring members of a Navy SEAL Team who had been killed in action during a high-risk operation in Afghanistan. The short-notice decision to salute these fallen heroes was fraught with numerous potential difficulties - but the City, with the help of numerous other agencies, overcame the potential obstacles and set a new standard for special event planning.
The South Carolina Region's healthcare coalition is bringing together various resources and knowledge to improve capabilities for mass-fatality incidents and subsequent family assistance operations. Through ongoing discussions, the coalition is able to address planning efforts - e.g., additional training and exercises, available morgue space, multi-jurisdiction cooperation, and various other aspects of fatality surge - that can be implemented and improved upon for years to come.
Most medium-sized or larger U.S. hospitals can handle multi-casualty incidents efficiently and effectively under normal circumstances. However, during major incidents such as earthquakes, hurricanes, or terrorist attacks, those same hospitals often require additional resources. Through interagency cooperation, new standards of care have been published to help better prepare for future crisis response situations.
The well-known military axiom that an army "travels on its stomach" applies equally to a nation - more so now than ever before, primarily because of the massive increase in the international trade of food and agricultural products that has taken place in recent years. For this reason, the accidental and/or intentional poisoning of food is now a major U.S. national priority that will undoubtedly grow in importance for many years to come.