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Thursday

Protecting Nuke Plants from Air Attack

Shouldn't we have done this already?
You and I may have thought that nuclear power plants have been evaluated and made safe from threats on the ground and in the air. We're wrong. A story being run on CNN.com states that new construction of nuclear power plants will have to be protected from dive-bombing aircraft.

Just think, it's only been seven years since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the WTC...and we're just getting to the protection of our nuke plants now!? To make matters worse, the requirement put forth in the article notes that "...require any future nuclear power plants to be designed to withstand strikes from commercial jetliners..." What about the current plants? Shouldn't we be doing something with them as well? I have to honest here, I thought that they were already protected to some degree from this scenario...guess not.

Once again we demonstrate the failure to learn from our emergency preparedness history. Billions of dollars have been spent and much of it wasted in the name of preparedness since 9-11-01. We've failed to make meaningful changes to our attitudes toward preparedness and been mediocre at best keeping up with man-made and biological threats.

If IT CAN Happen Here, IT CAN Happen Anywhere

For those of you remaining in the "it can't happen here" crowd; let CNN serve up this story as a reminder. I actually read this a few days ago and forgot to post it. The scenario is that an improvised explosive device was detonated inside a prison during a search. Although no one was injured, it is another reminder of the relative ease of construction and obtaining materials for an improvised explosive device (IED) or homemade chemical bomb can be.

If some motivated inmate, presumably with limited access to materials and under salience, can construct an IED...what makes you think your community is going to remain free from this type of event.

If the term "Domestic Terrorism" is not in your vocabulary...put it there today.
See these Mitigation Journal blog postingsand listen to Mitigation Journal Podcast for more:
Homemade Chemical Bombs
Chemical Fumes Risk
Domestic Terrorism in Aspen

Wednesday

Point and Click Equals Sick?

I found this story in the Orlando Sentinel interesting. The story suggests that more people are turning to the Internet for medical information and becoming "Cyberchondriacs" as a result of diagnosing themselves with a worst-case disease scenario.

Any access to information has to be put into context. Without qualified medical opinion and assessment the medical information found on-line or sought in texts is next to impossible to use correctly. Should we limit public access to medical information? Absolutely not. While a person may over diagnose themselves with a condition they may be just a likely to seek evaluation and treatment earlier. We may actually see a decrease in denial!

In any event, I think we as responders have to recognize the fact that people who call 9-1-1 have access to a great deal of information...and that information may lead them to incorrect conclusions about their health condition or situation. That means a charge in expectation. Responders have to be able to speak intelligently and factually in the face of "Internet self-diagnosis". We have to be able to do this in order to maintain our credibility, elicit the proper information from the patients, make the correct decisions...the list goes on.

If you fail to acknowledge the fact that the public you serve is informed...you may fail to meet their expectations or elevate fears. Both are failures of service.

Tuesday

1 in 5 Quit

Another story being run by MSNBC states that 1 in 5 nurses quit within their first year of service. Once considered a product of the over-worked, under-paid emergency services field, it seems as if the longevity and retention of nurses is reaching alarming rates.

This article is worth the few minutes it will take to read. I think it will open your thoughts to the situation in the Nations emergency departments.

On a final note, things that make you go HHHMMM...

"Many novice nurses like O'Bryan are thrown into hospitals with little direct supervision, quickly forced to juggle multiple patients and make critical decisions for the first time in their careers."

Monday

The Cost of Texting

For many, its not the cost of text messaging service that's a problem...it's the loss of communications skills. This recent MSNBC story highlights a concern many of us (especially parents of teens) have about the texting communication craze. The story highlights the possibility of loss of traditional communication skills, use of grammar, inability to use proper sentence structure and so on. Thinking about my own experiences I'm not sure that I fully agree. I know my own writing, spelling and desire to write increased dramatically when personal computers (read: spell check) came to the commonplace . In my case, the use of technology (personal computer...in my case a TANDY notebook) made it possible for me to overcome poor handwriting and spelling. When all is said and done, the personal computer became a way for me to overcome limits and eventually produce Mitigation Journal, one of the finest niche blogs available today.

Can we say the same thing for text messaging or "texting"? I don't know, its far too early to tell. I do think that texting allows us (teens and others) to communicate with others who we'd not normally contact and share immediate thoughts. We've talked about the value of social networking sites such as Twitter (follow Mitigation Journal on Twitter) and Facebook. These sites have value in emergency service and public safety communication as well as message delivery to the public.

To put a public safety spin on it; the question that remains is one of integration. How will the "text" generation communicate with others in an official situation. Let me define that as, for example, communications face to face between paramedic and physician or paramedic and triage nurse. Although we can become concerned with issues of miscommunication or loss of data with texting and the impact of patient care, I suggest that texting posses no more threat to communication between people than poor use of grammar or body language. In fact, texting a brief EMS patient care report or fire ground situation update may improve communication. Texts are usually short and focused and contain the only the needed words to get the point made. How will we integrate texting and other social media into emergency service remains to evolve...rest assured, it will continue to evolve.

Think about the use of texting the next time you're giving a verbal report on a noisy fire ground or at a crowded triage station. Texting may be a solution to the "THEY never told me that"...phenomenon that happens to so many EMS providers.

We'll be following this one for a while.