Friday, September 02, 2005

Tips For Emergency Preparedness

This one is for you, Mr. Bush.  Bloggers everywhere have been critical for the failure to plan adequately for Katrina, alleging that you basically gambled by cutting funding for civil engineering projects in order to finance the war and the tax cuts.  You saved hundreds of millions of dollars, but it ended up costing billions.  Oh well, you knew it was a gamble.

I won't bother listing all the other criticisms; Krugman did a nice job of that already.  I just hope you learn from your mistakes.  

Of the three biggest threats listed by FEMA before 9-11, two have already happened.  The remaining one is a major California earthquake.  If that happens, and the response is as poor as the response to Katrina, it will look very bad indeed.

However, there is one risk that the pre-9-11 FEMA could not have anticipated.  That is the risk of an avian influenza pandemic.  Now, we are being told that the CDC is not adequately prepared (Medscape, free registration required):
US Needs Better Quarantines to Fight Disease -- Study

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) Sept 02 - The current U.S. quarantine system does not do enough to keep out new killer diseases such as avian flu or unknown new bioterrorist threats, a panel of experts cautioned on Thursday.

They said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should be given broad new powers to set up and enforce quarantine stations and to monitor for imported infections.

Hundreds more people need to be trained to watch at ports of entry for people who may be carrying diseases, the Institute of Medicine Committee said.

"What happens if you get SARS or have a pandemic or a big outbreak occurs somewhere and you need a big capacity very quickly? That is going to require a lot more planning than is occurring today," Dr. Georges Benjamin, head of the American Public Health Association and chair of the committee that wrote the report, said in a telephone interview.

"They need a lot more resources to do this. This is really an insurance plan that is underfinanced and undersupported." [...]
The warnings are out there; the funding is not.  Are you ready for another gamble?  If you gamble and loose, the death toll will not be in the mere thousands.  It'll be millions.

Categories: Science, medicine, politics
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