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Tuesday

If you want resiliency, stop doing this one thing.

When we place a term on an issue, that term becomes imprint in our mind. 

Terrorism and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) are terms arisen out of the September 11, 2001 attacks that have been imprinted on us. Although not entirely new terms for many in the traditional response group of emergency medical service (EMS), fire service, and law enforcement; terrorism and WMD became the language defining events of national crisis. Highly paid “experts” have become obligatory content in any number of trade journals and conferences. Emergency service organizations have received millions of grant dollars to purchase training/education, equipment, and supply all to be brought to defend against terrorism/WMD.

The sad  reality is that much of the training conducted has been lacking context to what is encountered and managed every day. There is little, if any, ability to apply theory or skills from terrorism training to the real world. We need to take the all-hazards approach to training and relate the material to the daily events that  paramedics, firefighters and healthcare providers deal with.  are just a few examples of the threats outside of the traditional terrorism training we've been given. 

 Doing so will keep the skills and knowledge fresh and usable. If we continue to wrap this material up and say “don’t open ‘till terrorist attack” we will not be able to access it efficiently or use it properly.  Lets make terrorism training part of the greater Civil Preparedness/Resiliency that includes naturally biologic events, chemical suicide and technological failure.

Civil preparedness is much more than readiness for an intentional event - its not about being a Doomsday Prepper, either. Its a way of identifying through analysis and assessment the hazards we're likely to encounter and the potential impact of those threats. We have to blend what we’ve come to know as terrorism/WMD training into the “basics” of public emergency service and healthcare response. To do so is simple because of the similarities between the intentional events and haz-mat accidents, mass casualty events, and natural disasters.

What do accidents, man-made events, and natural disasters (ice storms, hurricanes, earth quakes, floods) have in common?

Here's the short list of commonalities:
    From the web. I do not own this.
  • little or no warning
  • large numbers of civilians needing assistance
  • multiple casualties and fatalities
  • protracted operations
  • limited resources

The Civil Preparedness Mindset looks at preparing us for a multitude of potentials. Not everyone has to be ready for a blizzard or a wildland fire, but we should all be aware of the hazards we're likely to face based on our Hazard Vulnerability Assessment. We all need self-protection, working knowledge of the incident management system, triage and casualty/fatality management, for example.

The labels of terrorism and WMD may have been a great disservice to emergency responders, healthcare providers and citizens. Those terms imply an event that most people don’t believe will ever happen to them. There is much more to preparedness than terrorism.

Let’s try to change our thinking.
Updated/edited. Original 11/05

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