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Thursday

Is your Preparedness Expiring?

Who should pay to prepare? 

Under the premiss of Homeland Security and preparedness, New York State Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (NYSBEMS) undertook an aggressive initiative to arm EMS providers with  auto-injectors to be used to treat people exposed to certain types of chemical agents. As the expiration dates on these materials begin to come due, NYSBEMS, citing budget constraints, has no plans to replace these auto injectors.

If auto injectors for chemical antidotes were so important three years ago, why aren't they important now? The fact is that having auto injectors on ambulances is not an important component of preparedness now. They never were. And the situation leaves a problem of perception. This situation is the latest example of unrealistic resources being put into play without a sustainable plan under the failed model of Homeland Security. It's an issue of poor planning, of being reactionary -  rushing to do something in the name of Homeland Security, in this case, putting auto injectors on ambulances where they'd most likely never be used by EMS personnel who, by an large, lack the personal protective clothing to operate safely in a chemical environment.

Chances are that public service organizations and public health departments in your state are facing (or will face) budget issues that will force similar decisions. New York is not alone, and New York State Bureau of EMS is not at fault for these items expiring without replacement.
The new post 9/11 era message to emergency response and public health: we're out of money...pay for preparedness yourself or don't do it at all.
This issue goes beyond any single item, it's  and issue of sustainable preparedness. Was it ever realistic to place chemical agent antidote injectors on ambulances in the first place? Probably not. And, now that they're not going to be replaced, gives the impression that this initiative is no longer important or the threat is no longer present.

What we're seeing now is the result of a steady, predictable decline in preparedness funding, planning, and operation. EMS has never received an amount of preparedness dollars commensurate with their function and this de-funding of EMS preparedness will continue to hasten the eventual collapse of  public health.

The term Homeland Security does a disservice as it brings to the public mind an image of guys with guns and scanners at the airport or big shinny fire trucks...leaving public health, healthcare systems, and Emergency Medical Services poorly funded, trained, prepared.

When nothing happens, nothing happens. And nobody wants to pay when nothing happens. 

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