Tuesday, October 24, 2006

When is a threat, not a threat? (10/25/06)

posted by Joseph Simonovich, LiveProcess, MarCom Manager

From: www.liveprocess.com

For just a moment, let's turn back the clock and pretend it's October 18, 2000.

Early that morning someone stumbles upon a posting on an Internet message board that threatens to detonate "dirty bombs" at several NFL games that weekend.

What happens next?

Because of the number of people involved, the FBI is notified almost immediately. There is a thorough investigation to determine the credibility of the message.

Within a few hours, the FBI determines the message is a hoax. The American public is then made aware of what happened, possibly in a small mention of the event on their local news.

Now go back to last Wednesday - October 18, 2006.

A 20-year-old grocery-store worker from Wisconsin "blogged" this exact threat ("dirty bombs" at several NFL games that weekend).

What happened next?

Within a matter of minutes of this discovery, I received "Breaking News Alerts" from FoxNews and CNN, and countless emails from concerned friends and family to make sure I was aware of this "nuclear threat" (the New York Jets, a team that I am a season ticket holder for, play at a stadium mentioned in the threat).

Only three hours after this threat was discovered, and reported by news organizations throughout the world, it was dismissed as a hoax.

I am still unsure how I feel about the idea of everything that happens being reported as news, whether or not it turns out to be factual. Even more importantly - how should we react to these things?

Something like the scenario mentioned above can set so many things into action. If a stadium in your area is mentioned, when do you decide to put your emergency plan into action? What if the event the threat is against is only hours away, or even in progress?

In the post-9/11 world we live in, I can see why this type of thing spreads so fast. As a health care employee, involved with emergency preparedness, you are well aware of what type of action takes place in an event like this one - and hopefully you are prepared to respond to whatever news may break next, whether credible or not.

Did your facility take any steps to respond to this threat? We'd like to know. Send an email to blog@liveprocess.com.

http://www.liveprocess.com/news/blog/blog-26.php

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Australia's pandemic plan on display this week (10/18/06)

posted by Joseph Simonovich, LiveProcess, MarCom Manager

From: www.liveprocess.com

The world is watching this week as Australia conducts the world's largest exercise simulating a nationwide pandemic influenza outbreak.

Representatives from more than 50 countries are in Australia watching as Exercise Cumpston 06 (named for the first head of Australia's federal health department, Dr. John Cumpston) tests the nation's disease containment (hospitalization and quarantine arrangements), deployment of anti-viral drugs and the establishment of fever clinics.

The scenario being played out in the exercise is an international arrival at Australia’s Brisbane Airport containing two people infected with pandemic influenza.

Due to the expansive nature of Exercise Cumpston, I find it to be an extremely interesting undertaking. Health and emergency services from all over Australia are participating in the drill, which is intended to evaluate the country’s border-control, quarantine and hospital plans.

One of the areas being looked at very closely is communication during a pan flu outbreak. All of Australia's national, state and territory pandemic plans acknowledge the importance of websites as a key to rapid dissemination of information in any disaster scenario. The Internet is viewed as the main communication vehicle for stakeholders, the media and the general public in the event of a pan flu outbreak. Exercise participants will post press releases, media statements, situation reports and any other relevant documents on a website developed by Australia's Department of Health and Aging.

"We just felt . . . that we were really ready to do this and test it and see what happens," said Queensland's chief health officer Dr. Jeannette Young. "You can always think you know what you're doing with a desktop exercise but until you physically have it occur you're never really sure so we thought, great, if the Commonwealth wants to help us test it then let's go for it."

I really think this exercise can shed a lot of light on pandemic preparedness throughout the world.

Stay tuned to Google News for all of the latest information on Exercise Cumpston. I will publish some of the Australian Government’s findings from the drill here later this week.

LiveProcess is ahead of the curve when it comes to pandemic influenza preparedness, to see our scenario click here.

http://www.liveprocess.com/news/blog/blog-25.php

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

In Memoriam: James P. Denney (10/11/06)

posted by Nathaniel Weiss, LiveProcess, CEO

From: www.liveprocess.com


Last week, I received an email that let me know James P. (Jim) Denney had passed away.

Jim was someone who I had the opportunity to work with at FEMA's Noble Training Center. He was someone who dedicated his professional life to emergency preparedness and response, and was very passionate about it. Even more than being the quintessential professional - Jim was truly a great person.

Jim did so much for the emergency preparedness and response community, it would be impossible to list everything. Here is a short biography of what Jim Denney accomplished during his professional life:

In his career with the Los Angeles Public Safety Emergency Services System, which spanned more than 30 years, Jim managed operations and led personnel in all types of disaster environments. He functioned at both the first responder and command level in the management of disaster consequences in Southern California. He was part of operations for three decades worth of events ranging from earthquakes to riots, and participated in planning for the Olympic Games in 1984 and 1996. He was later appointed to the Department of Defense, Defense Science Board Civil Integration and Response Panel.

Jim was deeply involved in education throughout his career. He was a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs EMS Committee. He served as an advisor to the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), the Defense Science Research Council (DSRC) and the RAND Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Jim also contributed to several books. He was the co-author of Gangs, Violence and Tactical Response (LAFD 1994) and was a contributing author to The EMS Incident Management System - EMS Operations for Mass Casualty and High Impact Incidents (Brady 1998) as well as numerous trade publication pieces. He was a frequent lecturer at national conferences. Jim established and was the Executive Director of the Global Emergency Management Services Association.

Jim was a founding member of the OSS Group and an Emergency Service Specialist and Scientist.

“Jim was a great guy (who) will not be replaced,” said Paul Maniscalo, another founding member of the OSS Group. “(He was) a scholar (and) a patriot - a paramedics paramedic.”

Jim is survived by his wife Karen, a daughter Jamie, two sons (Jeremy and Jake), as well as countless friends and acquaintances.

Jim will be missed by all those he touched throughout his life.

Monday, October 09, 2006

No more hurricanes in '06? (10/04/06)

From: www.liveprocess.com

Eleven.

That¹s the total number of named Atlantic storms now predicted by forecasters at the University of Colorado for this year, but they add that there is a chance we may not even see that many (at the time of posting this, there have been nine named storms).

That number is down from the original prediction of 17 storms this past May, and 13 just last month.

Following last year¹s, record-breaking, hurricane season, when there were 28 named storms, 15 of which reached hurricane strength, everyone was preparing for the worst in 2006.

If you¹re like me, you¹re probably asking; why have no hurricanes made landfall in the U.S. this year?

Some experts are now saying that the quiet hurricane season is directly related to El Niño.

"Typically, El Nino conditions put an early end to hurricane formation in the Atlantic basin," said William Gray, a hurricane forecaster at the university in a Dow Jones Newswire story. "This year, El Nino has developed faster than almost anyone predicted."

The Wikipedia defines El Niño as sustained sea surface temperature anomalies of magnitude greater than 0.5°C across the central tropical Pacific Ocean. El Niño is associated with a positive anomaly, and La Niña with a negative anomaly. When the condition is met for a period of less than five months, it is classified as El Niño or La Niña conditions; if the anomaly persists for five months or longer, it is classified as an El Niño or La Niña episode. Historically, it has occurred at irregular intervals of 2-7 years and has usually lasted one or two years.

So, now that we have almost made it through hurricane season, what does El Niño mean for our weather the rest of the year?

In a recent article in The San Jose Mercury News, the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center, which announced the arrival of El Niño Wednesday, predicts warmer-than-average temperatures over the western and northern United States, unusually wet conditions over portions of the Gulf Coast and Florida and drier-than-average conditions in the Ohio Valley and the Pacific Northwest this winter.

In avoiding the active hurricane season that was predicted, it gives all of us a chance to, metaphorically, catch our breath. But it should in now way allow us to be come relaxed in preparing for any emergency situation. Even though the pictures of the 2005 storms are still fresh in our mind, and are what we immediately think of when disaster preparedness is mentioned, we need to stay ready for anything at all. The break in the weather, gives us a chance to work on our All-Hazards preparedness planning, including being ready for the next major hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. ­ even if that could be two years away.

Are you prepared for whatever is next?

Let us know the steps your facility has taken by sending a note to: Blog@LiveProcess.com today.




To contribute to the LiveProcess blog, send an email to Blog@LiveProcess.com with your idea for a topic and completion date.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Eye on Tropical Storm Chris (8/2/06)

From: www.liveprocess.com


Yesterday morning, a low-pressure system in the atlantic was dubbed Tropical Storm Chris. Over the next five days or so, "Chris" has the potential to find his way into the Gulf of Mexico, where warm waters provide the right conditions for the storm to evolve into something hazardous. It's just another reminder of the hurricane season now well underway.


Are you prepared for a hurricane disaster? Find out how LiveProcess can help your facility prepare for and respond to a potential hurricane event by going to:


http://www.liveprocess.com/product/hurricane.php



WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO PREPARE?


Let us know the steps your facility has taken by sending a note to: Blog@LiveProcess.com today.



To contribute to the LiveProcess blog, send an email to Blog@LiveProcess.com with your idea for a topic and completion date.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

RFIDs and Disaster Management (7/26/06)

From: www.liveprocess.com

In a large-scale disaster, it is difficult for healthcare professionals to track the location and identity of casualties as well as coordinate care when there's limited access to patient identity and history. Hurricane Katrina, with its reports of missing patients, is a prime case for improving a healthcare facility's ability to keep track of their patients -- not just their condition and medicines, but also their location. One answer may be found in applications of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.

RFID tags are based on a relatively simple and inexpensive technology, that allows for containing and transmitting data. In healthcare it can be used to monitor each stage of assessment and care, including triage, treatment and transport.

RFID can impact emergency management in that aggregate data can provide a strong foundation for real-time medical care as well as minimize the potential for human error. Data collected during a disaster can then be stored in a central repository and later analyzed during the after action report (AAR) process to show operational strengths and weaknesses retrospectively, as well as mitigate the impact of future disasters.

For more information on RFID technology go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RFID

To better understand the impact that RFID could have on disaster management go to: http://www.usingrfid.com/news/read.asp?lc=t61392hx769zb


WHAT'S YOUR TAKE?
Take the quick, one-step survey RFID AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE and see your results instantly! Goto: http://www.liveprocess.com/survey now.



To contribute to the LiveProcess blog, send an email to Blog@LiveProcess.com with your idea for a topic and completion date.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

More problems for FEMA (7/18/06)

From: www.LiveProcess.com

A recent Policy Analysis published by the Cato Institute asserts that the U.S. federal government should scale back its role in emergency management and restrict the involvement of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The authors contend that FEMA cannot effectively coordinate relief efforts, and that there appears to be a correlation between disaster declarations and budget allocations and political agendas.

To read the executive summary of this report go to: http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=6516

To download a copy of the full report go to: http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa573.pdf


WHAT'S YOUR TAKE?
What do you think? Would strengthening FEMA help solve the problem of large-scale disaster relief or would this create a larger obstacle to state, local and private emergency management efforts? Let us know by sending an email to Blog@LiveProcess.com today with your feed back.

To contribute to the LiveProcess blog, send an email to Blog@LiveProcess.com with your idea for a topic and completion date.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Emergency Preparedness and Response Weekly News Round-up (4/30/06)

From: www.LiveProcess.com

The past days have been inundated with coverage on the lack of preparedness for the avian flu. Here's a sampling of the coverage.

Is the bird flu threat overstated?
It may be according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He said it was "very unlikely that there is going to be the type of situation [here that] we see everywhere, from Nigeria to Indonesia." (Forbes.com 4/21/06)

"In Malawi, as is the case in many African countries, inadequate medical, veterinary, and laboratory services, limited animal and human health education and the high levels of poverty make more people vulnerable" said Mazian Jusoh, The UN Food and Agriculture Organizations country representative for Malawi. (iol.co.za. 4/24/06)

Even though the threat may be lower in the United States, than in Africa or Asia where more people have close contact to birds, Fauci emphasized the need to be prepared for a worst case scenario.

California isn't even prepared for a bad scenario much less worst case
That was the word coming from Dr. Howard Backer, an official with the California Department of Health. "No one, and I repeat no one is prepared for pandemic that starts tomorrow."

Dr. Brian Johnson, an emergency room physician in Los Angeles said "The famous line form emergency medical services is, we have trouble handling a Friday night." (Los Angeles Times 4/17/06)

How short of vaccines is the world for managing a pandemic?
According to Dr. Henry I. Miller, a physician and fellow at the Hoover Institution, we are dangerously short. Miller said "We are woefully short of capacity for the production of a vaccine against a pandemic strain of flu." Miller estimates that optimistically there is enough flu vaccine for 450 million people, but it may be that there is only enough for 75 million people. In a pandemic some estimates have the infection rate as high as 30%, which would make 75 million does insufficient for the United States, much less the entire world. (TCSDaily.com 4/24/06)

Can information technology assist avian flu preparations?
According to Dr. Barry P. Chaiken, the chief medical officer at BearingPoint in Boston, IT can be very helpful. Chaiken urges people to rethink their disaster preparedness plans citing the differences between short-lived disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes, and a pandemic which will last minimally six weeks and slowly erode a hospital's personnel and infrastructure. He suggests leveraging IT to assist in communications with hospital staff who may not be able to come to the office, to expedite communications with an expanded supply chain that may extend far beyond the immediate area, and to educate the general population to minimize inappropriate visits to the ER. (wisechnology.com 4/17/06)

Public Health Workers AOL in a Pandemic?
Is this just a sign of a need for better education on avian flu?

A survey conducted by the Johns Hopkins University for Public Health Preparedness. found that more than forty percent of the public health employees interviewed from three Maryland county health departments said they would not come to work if there was a deadly epidemic. One of the Researchers on the study said: "We need to do a better job of training the public health workforce. Not just in ability to respond, but in willingness to respond. We need to focus on giving each worker a better sense of the pandemic scenario and the importance of his or her personal role in responding to it as a health department employee. In addition we need to give workers confidence that the agencies will give them adequate personal protective equipment." (Orlando Sentinel healthblog, 4/21/06)

Each week we'll be scanning the news, talking to the experts, and reviewing other industry information sources. Our goal is to bring you news you can use for your emergency preparedness and response initiatives and helpful newsbytes to keep you abreast of disaster-related issues and events.

First of its kind bioterrorism and dirty-bomb drills takes place in Arizona (5/9/06)

From: www.LiveProcess.com

A large-scale bioterrorism and dirty bomb drills were conducted by the Coyote Crisis Campaign (CCC) the last week of April. CCC is a joint initiative of the Arizona Air National Guard, the city of Scottsdale, Scottsdale Healthcare, General Dynamics and some other organizations. Participants in the drills included federal, state and local government, National Guard units from seven states, healthcare organizations, private enterprise, and academic institutions.

The drills were designed to test the community's preparations for responding to a widespread disaster. The drill included: a large decontamination exercise; a SWAT team building evacuation; multiple Blackhawk air hospital evacuations with simulated patient arrivals; multiple simulations of mass casualty incidents; neighbor notification; and the operation of a field hospital.

For more info in CCC, click here.
http://www.coyotecampaign.org./purpobj/

To read details of the bioterrorism disaster drill click here.
http://www.biodesign.asu.edu/news/157/

Hot off the press it's the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza: Implementation Plan (5/15/06)

From: www.LiveProcess.com

President Bush and Homeland Security just released the nation's implementation plan for pan flu. It's a hefty 227 page plan that's jam packed with information. (There's quite a bit of repetition too, so don't put off reading it because of its gargantuan size.)

The plan includes background information on previous pandemics which is used to project the possibilities for future outbreaks. For example: "Three human influenza pandemics occurred in the 20th century, each resulting in illness in approximately 30 percent of the world population and death in 0.2 percent to 2 percent of those infected. Using this historical information and current models of disease transmissions, it is projected that a modern pandemic could lead to the deaths of 200,000 to 2 million people in the United States alone."

Getting past the background information the plan explains the measures and initiatives that are/will/should be taken by federal, state, local, and tribal governments in conjunction with international and other public and private sector organizations to stop, slow and contain the spread of disease. There are also recommended responses for individual, families and communities.

Click here to get a copy of the Implementation Plan.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/homeland/pandemic-influenza-implementation.html

Pet evacuation plans: A new condition of FEMA grants (5/30/06)

From: www.LiveProcess.com

Did you know that about six hundred thousand pets died or were left homeless in the aftermath of Katrina? This in part drove the House to pass legislation that should diminish dispossessed animals and animal casualties. One way of gaining compliance with this new law will be imposing a requirement to consider animal evacuations in your emergency preparedness plans in order to qualify for grants from FEMA. Click on the link below to read more about the legislation that recently passed the House covering pet evacuations.

http://159.54.227.3/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060523/NEWS/60523010

The 2006 Atlantic hurricane season begins--will New York get hit? (6/6/06)

From: www.LiveProcess.com

Last week, the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season officially began. Experts agree that it is not a question of 'if', but 'when' New York City will be hit... again.

Hurricanes pose a significant threat to NYC, where population density, a lack of preparedness and geographical location form a recipe for disaster. Vulnerable low-lying areas of the city and the larger metropolitan area must respond to warning signs early. Hurricanes that head north of the Carolinas are notoriously unpredictable and NYC may have only hours to react to an impending threat.

In 1821, the last meteorological near-miss took place as a hurricane barreled within 55 miles of New York City, pushing the tide up 13 feet in one hour, inundating wharves, and causing the East River and the Hudson River to merge across lower Manhattan as far north as Canal Street. Deaths were limited because the population was relatively small at the time.

Considering New York's population today, how much damage would a direct hit cause the city and what steps can be taken to prepare?

For more information about New York City and hurricane preparedness, visit:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/oem/html/readynewyork/hazard_hurricane.html

Hospital-based Emergency Care is on its Knees (6/20/06)

From: www.LiveProcess.com

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recently released three new reports that analyze current problems facing the emergency care system in the United States and provide short- and long-term recommendations.

In a recent article about these reports, Joe Goldeen cites these key findings:


  • Demand for emergency care has been growing fast. Visits nationwide grew by 26 percent between 1993 and 2003.

  • Over the same period, the number of emergency departments declined by 425 and the number of hospital beds declined by 198,000.

  • Cities and regions are often served by multiple 911 call centers.

  • Emergency Medical Services agencies do not effectively coordinate services with hospitals, leaving some emergency departments empty and others overcrowded.

  • There are no nationwide standards for training and certification of emergency medical personnel.

  • Three quarters of hospitals report difficulty finding specialists to take emergency and trauma calls.

  • Three quarters of hospitals report difficulty finding specialists to take emergency and trauma calls.

  • With many ERs at or overcapacity, there is little surge capacity for a major event, a natural disaster, disease outbreak or terrorist attack.

  • Most children receive emergency care in general hospitals, which are less likely to have pediatric expertise, equipment and policies in place for the care of children.

  • Children make up 27 percent of all ER visits, but only 6 percent of emergency departments have all of the necessary supplies for pediatric emergencies.

  • The emergency-care system of the future should be one in which all participants, from 911 dispatch to ambulances to emergency departments, fully coordinate their activities and integrate communications to ensure seamless emergency and trauma services for the patient.

  • Congress should create a lead agency to deal with all of the issues surrounding emergency care.

  • Hospitals should reduce crowding by improving efficiency and patient flow, and using operational management methods and information technology.

  • States should strengthen the emergency medical work force by requiring national accreditation of paramedic education programs, accepting national certification for state licensure and adopting common certification levels.

  • Emergency departments and regional agencies should have pediatric coordinators to ensure appropriate equipment, training and services for children.


Source: Institute of Medicine of the National Academies


Goldeen, Joe (6/15/06). Growing crisis in ER care. The Record. Stockton, CA.
http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060615/MONEY/606150301/1003 (accessed July 20, 2006)

Repirators and Representatives (6/29/06)

From: www.LiveProcess.com

A piece of legislation was recently introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 2357) that aims to stifle lawsuits against disposable respirator manufacturers for product defects or improper labeling when the respirators are NIOSH-approved.

The House is rallying against this sort of litigation because it discourages respirator manufacturers from domestic production as well as investing in surge capacity. This threatens the United States' preparedness and response capabilities for large-scale respiratory hazards such as pandemic influenza. Not to mention these lawsuits are typically dubious.

For more information on this topic, go to: http://www.occupationalhazards.com/articles/15345




To contribute to the LiveProcess blog, send an email to Blog@LiveProcess.com with your idea for a topic and completion date.

HVAs are too Subjective (7/6/06)

From: www.LiveProcess.com

Twice in the past two weeks we have been asked if there is a way for LiveProcess to create a hazard vulnerability analysis (HVA) that is less subjective. LiveProcess has based its HVA on an assessment tool from Kaiser Permanente, a subjective tool, because it is widely used and accepted throughout the healthcare industry. However, we have also examined a number of other tools. Although, many use quantitative metrics/labels, as opposed to labels, such as high, medium and low, that are later converted to quantitative measures, the tools are still subjective.

We want to know what you think. Is there a need for a more objective HVA tool? Do you have any ideas for creating a more objective HVA? Would any of you be interested in participating in a study that LiveProcess would undertake to examine if the scores created by subjective HVA tools, have accurately predicted an organizations vulnerability to different hazards?

Please let us know your thoughts and interests by sending a note to Blog@LiveProcess.com




To contribute to the LiveProcess blog, send an email to Blog@LiveProcess.com with your idea for a topic and completion date.