Sunday, May 10, 2009

What happens if NOTHING happens?

There's a glaring similarity between Y2K and H1N1. Care to guess what it is?

There have been those that have been saying it's blown out of proportion. Nothing is going to happen. This is the Government over-reacting again.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control reports 2532 cases and three dead from the outbreak. Already, this is worse than Y2K where NO reported deaths occurred.

... and Sunday church was impacted, or was it?

Last week, a minister friend of mine from IA noted:

Just had a H1N1 Virus alert Sunday in Children's Ministry and church- Had to disinfect rooms and anti-bacterial lotions for all kids... No Handshaking (or holy kisses) and No Communion or Offering plates passed.... Had to Postpone the church annual banquet & Kids Parent's Night!!!! 6 possible (not yet confirmed) Virus cases in area is what triggered it all!!

Compared to the service I attended this week in Oklahoma, Communion and Offering plates were passed. It was Mothers' Day. The Kids led the service. Friendship time was complete with handshaking. I did not see anyone other than me use hand sanitizer in the assembly. There was no coughing, wailing, or gnashing of teeth.

Continuing the comparison, Iowa has 43 cases. Oklahoma has 14. No deaths in either.

Like Y2K, the influenza event has brought a lot of attention and, as a result of that attention, some Citizens are saying, "For What?"

Here are a number of thoughts related to Y2K and H1N1. Centering around the question, What IF nothing happens?

1. There is evidence that the Citizen is taking heed of the H1N1 public awareness campaigns.

Three-quarters of the people responding to the poll say they are following news of the outbreak of swine flu, also called H1N1, the novel strain that first emerged in Mexico and then spread around the world over the last two weeks.

These figures surpass the number of Citizens preparing for Y2K. Perhaps the threat is perceived as being more real in 2009 than it was in 2000.

The point here is, IF the Citizen is heeding public information efforts, then the NOTHING that happens can be attributed to the success of Government in getting the word OUT about what to do about the outbreak.

2. Mitigation Works

Often it's perceived as more sexy or something that we get a budget-busting mitigation project funded, when, in reality, the price of a human life is not even factored into the project.

The Government will spend money hardening the levees around a city (and not saying this should not be done) while neglecting to assure the Citizens in the area that the levees, even after hardening, may fail and that the Citizen, being responsible for their own survival, should have a plan for evacuating, having a means for evacuation, and practice their plan using the means they have identified.

The National Hazard Mitigation Association is excited about opportunities to foster the message that Mitigation works. Both they and FEMA have examples of mitigation projects that have proven to save lives.

The CHEAPEST mitigation project is a consistent message from our Public Information Officers that a bad thing is going to happen and the Citizen needs to plan for that bad thing. While it's not perfect, the message going out has produced at least 44% of the Citizen has a kit ... a cache of supplies ... to fight the War on Tornadoes.

3. Plans work

Assuming that nothing is going to happen in H1N1, was the planning for naught? General Russel Honore would certainly say NO.

"...if a guy can do all this preparation for a tailgate party, you ought to do a little preparation for hurricanes. Go buy some tarps, man, get a little water and put it in this garage, get rid of one of those machines and get a generator. We need a culture of preparedness so people are prepared in their homes."

All you have to do is identify the hazards you face, prepare a plan for overcoming the hazards, develop the resources to support the plan, and go forth to fight the War on Tornadoes.

It worked for Patton in WW II. It will work for us today. Eisenhower said it best, "The plan is nothing. To plan is everything."

Simply put, If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

For example, in one jurisdiction, around Katrina time, the local responders practiced Mass Immunization and Prophylaxis efforts. A number of complaints were recorded. "It won't happen here".

Not many months later, the jurisdiction had a winter storm. It was the worst ever in the State, regardless of what others say.

The local jurisdiction used the Command and General Staff from the MIPS drill to run the Winter Storm event. Was it perfect? Shoot NO. Did it work? You Betcha! Were there needs for improvement? Of course! However, the jurisdiction had already done the hard part.

There was a plan.

Where's yours?

Don't write off H1N1 too quickly and assume it won't happen to you. In the words of Bush, "Stay the course". The work is not for naught. Plans and Efforts have utility in other events and disasters.


Lloyd Colston KC5FM
Altus, OK USA
Director Altus Emergency Management
Trustee of WX5EM QCWA #31935
CARF #294 Ten-Ten #10231
Croatian Telegraphy Club CTC # 1.931

Let's talk sense to the American people. Let's tell them the truth, that there are no gains without pains, that we are now on the eve of great decisions, not easy decisions, like resistance when you're attacked, but a long, patient, costly struggle which alone can assure triumph over the great enemies of man — war, poverty, and tyranny — and the assaults upon human dignity which are the most grievous consequences of each. --Adlai Stevenson

1 comment:

Steve Davis said...

Right on Lloyd. Great post. I was up to my ears fighting doomsayers during Y2K while trying to preach reasonable preparedness. I find the "it will never happen" crowd just as frustrating. There is a balance point in between the two extremes.

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