Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Crisis of Complacency
Crisis of Complacency
Came across this articlethe other week. The author, Anthony L. Kimery, writes about the lack of emergency preparedness in general and of particular concern is; “that federal and state governments aren’t paying nearly enough attention to the steady deterioration of emergency medical care across the nation – the very medical care that will be needed in the event of a mass casualty catastrophe.” I don’t know if I agree that the federal and state governments aren’t paying enough attention. Rather, I think the economic environment prohibits being focused on “what if” instead of the “right now”. The big three automakers aren’t selling enough cars so they are asking for a federal bailout. What this really means though is no one is buying which in turn means no tax revenue. Without sufficient tax revenues, the federal and state governments don’t have to money to subsidize emergency medical care.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that less 1/3 of the population is ready for an emergency. According to the CDC, US citizens are “too busy, too distracted, or too frightened to plan carefully for a natural disaster, disease outbreak, or local catastrophe.” A few years ago, everyone was preparing for the avian flu and now hardly anyone mentions “bird flu” anymore. People may remember last decade all of the doomsday predictions associated with the “Y2K” scare. It is human nature to start reacting to a new threat but if that threat does not materialize than our attention turns to other issues. Complacency has always been the challenge for state and local officials. Civil Defense had to constantly remind citizens how to respond in the event of a nuclear attack. Although those drills look clichéd now, the principle of constantly reminding people is as valid as it was 50 years ago.
Right now it seems unrealistic to encourage people to worry about a potential flu pandemic when people are much more concerned about their own jobs. In Wilmington, it looks like close to 10,000 jobs will be lost. In Hamilton County, several hundred jobs may be lost due to budgetary constraints.
Anthony concludes his article with a turn on the old Total Quality Management phrase, “people need to understand the consequences of NOT being prepared.” Too much information has left people throwing up their arms in frustration or simply dismissing these studies as the latest Y2K. How then should we proceed? I suggest going back to the Civil Defense model but instead of surviving a nuclear attack preparing focus on basic emergency preparedness. Much as emergency managers are getting away from scenario based training and favor the “all-hazards approach”, we need to be prepared for all emergencies not just the most recent one.
I received a note from e-Justice blog which appears to be a new blog covering a range of topics from cyber law to personal security. The blog is part of the Criminal Justice USA.com website. The authors are interested in helping people to become more pro-active and better informed citizens. They just compiled a listing of the Top 50 Homeland Security blogs and Losantiville is one. Thanks for including my blog!