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Part I is here, and looked at the overall response to an emergency though the Stafford Act's algorithm for invoking federal help.

This week, we're going to take a look at the fifteen Emergency Support Functions, (ESF 1-15), with an eye on one of them, ESF 8, that would be used for a medical or public health emergency. From the ESF overview (.pdf):

The ESFs provide the structure for coordinating Federal interagency support for a Federal response to an incident. They are mechanisms for grouping functions most frequently used to provide Federal support to States and Federal-to-Federal support, both for declared disasters and emergencies under the Stafford Act and for non-Stafford Act incidents.

Just inspecting the ESF's (ESF 1-8 and ESF 9-15) will give you an idea of the types of disasters covered, and the responsible agencies. For example, a dam breaking might fit under ESF #3 – Public Works and Engineering and fall under the Department of Defense (through the US Army Corps of Engineers) as lead agency, while a major area wildfire on federal land might be under ESF #4 – Firefighting (Department of Agriculture's US Forest Service). A flu pandemic, as a public health issue, would fall under ESF #8 – Public Health and Medical Services which includes:

  • Public health
  • Medical
  • Mental health services
  • Mortuary services
and would have Health and Human Services as lead agency (this was actually established by statute in 2006 by Congress because of confusion between DHS and HHS). The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA)

created a lead federal official for public health and medical emergency preparedness and response within the HHS named the " The Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), currently RADM Craig Vanderwagen, a family physician with significant prior experience with the Indian Health Service, service in Iraq, and the HHS senior officer in the HHS responses during the 2005 Hurricane season and the Tsunami, serves as the lead official for Emergency Support Function #8, the Public Health and Medical Annex under the National Response Plan [to be replaced by the proposed National Response Framework with changes in the annexes].

The problem with public health emergencies, and especially pandemics, is that they fall under the category of wicked problems.

The concept of "wicked problems" was originally proposed by Horst Rittel (a pioneering theorist of design and planning, and late professor at the University of California, Berkeley) and M. Webber [1] in a seminal treatise for social planning. Rittel expounded on the nature of ill-defined design and planning problems which he termed "wicked" (ie. messy, circular, aggressive) to contrast against the relatively "tame" problems of mathematics, chess, or puzzle solving.

Wicked problems have incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements; and solutions to them are often difficult to recognize as such because of complex interdependencies. Rittel and Webber stated that while attempting to solve a wicked problem, the solution of one of its aspects may reveal or create another, even more complex problem.

As an example, here's an illustration of the area of the country covered by 100 mile radius 'buffer zones' from major hub airports (illnesses that travel by air can get around fast). And lest you think this is entirely theoretical, google the case of one Andrew Speaker, who flew to Europe and returned home by air while infected with tuberculosis. Now, TB might infect others on the plane; other illnesses might spread to the surrounding area. Pandemic flu (any novel human flu that people have no resistance to, not just the current H5N1 in the news) might spread to the rest of the country. And keep in mind that we are talking about a federal coordination issue here – the NRF is about how Federal agencies like CDC work with other fed agencies and Departments like (in this case) the Federal Aviation Agency, customs, DOJ, and the states (with their equivalent Departments)... in short, how you coordinate the solution to a wicked problem. This means that in the case of an ESF #8 incident, DHS not only has to coordinate with HHS and other agencies, but work closely with the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response within HHS, the lead agency for ESF #8 events. And everyone's role has to be crystal clear. Got all that?

Now, one more thing. Not every problem is a bioterror -> evildoer problem. In many cases, voluntary actions on the part of ordinary citizens can be part of the scenario. To illustrate that further, let's return to a theoretical pandemic.

Should a pandemic happen, 25% of the workforce could easily be either sick, caring for someone, or afraid to go to work (e.g. a hospital nurse with a diabetic child and an elderly mom, who doesn't want to bring illness home). The impact on business might be considerable, and so might the effect all the way down the supply chain. If schools close (up to 12 weeks, as recommended by CDC in a severe pandemic), the impact of parents who now have to care for their children will be felt in the workplace as well. Telecommuting puts pressure on the internet backbone (so will kids at home who want to IM their friends), with both cable companies and electrical grid infrastructure experiencing the same shortfalls in personnel (see The Prioritization Of Critical Infrastructure For A Pandemic Outbreak .pdf, 129 pages)... well, you get the idea. A wicked problem, indeed.

And, since infrastructure might be affected, we begin to stray into other "lead agencies" and ESFs such as ESF #2 – Communications (DHS takes the lead in ensuring infrastructure) or even ESF #13 – Public Safety and Security (DOJ) if there's looting or quarantine to enforce (HHS is clear that quarantine issues are voluntary, but DHS is just as clear that everything needs to be considered as possibilities (see Pandemic Influenza: Best Practices and Model Protocols (.pdf, 37 pages) wherein it states on p.7: "The population may be directed to remain in their homes under self-quarantine 90 days per wave of the outbreak to support social distancing practices" and "Telecommunications may likely be overwhelmed due to increased utilization caused by telework employees, homebound citizens, and public services search for resources"). However, it's not clear where every problem fits... there's no ESF for food supply (cities like NYC don't have more than 24 hours on hand should it get cut off from the rest of the world and it's not clear ESF #11 (Agriculture, food safety) is really set up to support the supply chain to grocery stores, etc. The 'food and agriculture' incident annex .pdf is more geared to a terrorist attack on the food supply than the delivery folks all calling out sick).

The point of going through some of those worst case scenarios is to focus on the need to practice the intra-agency coordination issues that would invariably occur should HHS, DHS and DOJ all be called upon to support ESF functions that overlap. The larger the disaster, the more likely it's a 'new and never before seen and done' scenario requiring flexibility and competence. It's why the NRF requires PFOs and FCOs (see part I). And this tongue-in-cheek slide (presented at this conference) might summarize the envisioned response (contrast and compare):

Given the above, a case could be made for following the advice of the National Response Framework: incidents should be handled at the lowest jurisdictional level capable of handling the work (including at the state level). And, in fact, sometimes the lowest jurisdictional level capable of handling the work is the family unit. That's why, in addition to familiarizing yourself with the NRF and the federal role, you should find out more about what's happening in your own communities. For ESF #8, that's best done through your local health department, which likely has a web page that can get you started. And to further assist you, we will be pointing to other web pages that can help, such as Minnesota's codeReady page (put your family number in, and number of pets, and how many week's supplies, and the page will calculate what you need to prepare for any disaster), and Influenza Pandemic Preparation and Response - A Citizen’s Guide version 1.3., a .pdf to cover all the panflu basics.

Actually, blogs would be a major asset during a pandemic or public health emergency, at least if the grid stays up (attention those who want to control message: you can't. So, use blogs and wikis as an asset, not an enemy. We can educate faster, and sometimes better, than you can, and we know our community). In a true public health emergency, ESF #8 would apply and advice and directions would come via HHS through your local authorities and maybe (if they're smart) through blogs and alternative sources. Help them by helping yourself - prepare in advance and be better able to deal with whatever comes. And that's partly because there's little enough in any of these charts and plans about you and your family, and we don't want you to be left out.

More details can be found posted by the regulars here. Next week, more of what you can do, and where to find more information

Bonus material: example of pandemic specific guidance for businesses.

"Top Ten" Tips Provided

...the Marsh – Albright Group study lays out 10 best practices that leaders can use to improve their state of preparedness for a pandemic.  These steps include:

   * Treating a pandemic as a truly catastrophic event versus a "manageable disruption;"
   * Establishing pandemic planning committees, supported by an actual budget;
   * Identifying and pre-qualifying alternate sourcing capacity
   * Incorporating their entire global supply chain—including critical suppliers, customers, and other key stakeholders—into the organization’s threat and vulnerability profile;
   * Prioritizing critical products and services and preparing to protect those, even at the expense of other important elements of a business model;
   * Developing a plan that considers the spectrum of response, recovery, restoration, and resumption activities;
   * Identifying critical pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions and procuring them now;

   * Focusing deeply on Human Resources issues, reviewing existing policies and procedures and, in most cases, updating them in an attempt to provide reasonable accommodations for this special circumstance;

   * Including a communications strategy as a critical element in the pandemic preparedness plan; and
   * Estimating and planning for post-pandemic changes, including shifts in demand patterns, in the availability and morale of staff, and in infrastructure, both locally and to vendors.

"The time to plan is now," said George Abercrombie, president and CEO of Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. "Once the WHO declares that we are in a pandemic, it will be too late for companies to begin planning. Even though, the threat of pandemic avian flu doesn’t make the headlines these days, I hope that business continuity managers will read this report and begin to take the threat seriously."

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 06:56 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  planning for events on this scale (13+ / 0-)

    is both extensive (i.e. it's real and ongoing at every level... local, state, federal, business, individual) and difficult.

    A plan can't possibly work as it looks on paper. Still, the alternative is no plan. And whereas hope is not a plan and a plan is not the same as preparedness, the real key is encouraging resilience.

    We'll talk about that next week.

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 06:53:23 AM PDT

    •  I Don't Get (0+ / 0-)

      why we are stressing about a pandemic. There are a lot of bad things that could happen and arguably might be somewhere in the same general range of probability during the next, say 10 years.

      I mean I also don't understand why our county recently sent every household a pamphlet about preparing for "pandemic flu." It could happen here. So could a hurricane, a rabies outbreak, a severe water shortage, a massive weeks-long electrical blackout, a terror attack, a nuclear power accident, a severe drop in the gasoline supply, total melting of the icecaps with concurrent flooding, an asteroid colliding with the earth. But official policy seems to say that of this one thing, "pandemic flu" we should "be very afraid." I don't get it.

      Why the emphasis on "pandemic flu"?  Is someone influential making big bucks off this?  Or is it tin foil hat time again?

      That said, I think your information about "wicked problems" generally is very interesting. Thanks.  

      •  because there are reputable scientists and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        public health officials who recognize that pandemics happen, and that we will likely experience one in your lifetime (there were three in the 20th century, the last in 1968)... and that we are not prepared for one.

        see expert opinion.

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 07:36:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  also, pandemics are fundamentally different than (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Creosote, splashy

        some of the things you listed. Because they are worldwide, they happen everywhere nearly simultaneously, and because that's so, and 25% of the population is affected, there's no help from "outside" your area. In 1918 a pandemic killed 675K Americans and came in 3 waves of 8-12 weeks each over more than a year. That's a big deal.... bigger than anything you mentioned, except the asteriod.

        What are the odds? 100% that it will happen again. When? Don't know. How bad (mild, moderate or severe)? Don't know.

        So, your county wants you to do some personal preparing ("prepping" in the trade) just in case. And the preps you do will come in handy for one of the other things that might happen.

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 07:42:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, Total Melting of the Icecaps (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          is arguably "equally" likely, on the same order of magnitude -- or a worldwide economic collapse -- or nuclear war. Of course, nothing else would be exactly like a pandemic. No disaster is exactly like another.

          Horror scenarios have always had their fascination, but personal opinion only of course, there are better ways to spend large amounts of amount of worry-time and think-power than planning for complex hypotheticals that (as this diary seems to substantiate) may present levels of complexity rendering them impossible to plan for, anyway.  

          Plus, it is one more potential bogeyman that to raise the fear level generally, and an excuse to set up comprehensive systems of surveillance/control to "protect" us. Possibly lots of nice $ for government contractors also.

          Thinking about unplannable emergencies, I think it may be more important to cultivate: 1) General principles for disaster response; 2) A cooperative/community spirit; 3) Flexibility; 4) Long antennae (to deal with most potential disasters before they actually become such). Rather than to have complex command-and-control plans in place.  

          •  nothing is impossible to plan for (0+ / 0-)

            25% of your workforce isnt' there?
            Make sure the other 75% is able to cover, as much as feasible.

            I'm sure that there are a lot of truckers out there (40's-60's) who could volunteer.  They may have never driven commercially, but in an emergency, the person who once drove a truck in the military should be allowed to help out (particularly if given some practice).  

            Also, it is important to understand what you sacrifice. Getting food to new york is a good way to sustain the general economy and media, for example.  There may be places that "should be allowed to suffer" for the sake of providing adequate supplies to other places (farmland for example. if there's flour around, just eat bread.  this means identifying food sources, first and foremost).

            I work in a hospital.  I get a shot, just in case.

            Community spirit will be invaluable, but to suggest that it is the only thing... i don't buy it.  The next time there is peace in the world, set our military strategists on finding a good solution -- and testing it.

          •  a few differences re pandemic vs other things (0+ / 0-)

            but you are right about the 'all hazards' approach being a good way to approach things. As it turns out, I totally agree with you about a command-and-control approach failing in comparison to flexibility, community resilience and individual planning. But some degree of planning is a good idea regardless. Don't forget that the planning you do at home may help you in the next ice storm, earthquake or whatever.

            Just because you don't like the idea of bogeymen that scare you doesn't make pandemic a scare story. Actually, they have happened (1918, 1957,1968), and they will happen. It's why WHO and non-Americans agree on the need.

            You have to think of them like cat 5 hurricanes. They're not common, they can't be predicted exactly, but you know they are coming. Strengthening the levees is prudence, not scare tactics.

            And despite that, if you still don't plan, others will. In fact, public health surveys show folks don't plan for hurricanes in 'cane territory, even after they've been hit. That stat doesn't make it the right thing to do.

            "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

            by Greg Dworkin on Mon Oct 01, 2007 at 04:13:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  oh, and one link (0+ / 0-)

            I'll spare you multiple links, but here's the World bank's global view:

            The World Bank, in particular, has taken up the issue of global warming. On 13 Jul 2006 the agency announced the creation of the Clean Air Institute, a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve air quality and fight climate change caused by global warming. The Institute will manage the Clean Air Initiative for Latin American Cities (CAI-LAC), a partnership for cities, private sector and non-governmental organizations, originally implemented and operated by the World Bank.

            On 13 Dec 2006 the agency sounded another alarm: "Globalization could spur faster growth in average incomes in the next 25 years than during 1980-2005, with developing countries playing a central role. However, unless managed carefully, it could be accompanied by growing income inequality and potentially severe environmental pressures."

            And in a recent World Bank press release, the agency bemoaned the disappearance of bird flu from the world's newspaper headlines, saying the disease is spreading and remains a threat to poultry and human health. According to the WB, the virus has continued to spread since countries pledged some US $1.9 billion last January to prevent and combat bird flu. Carried by wild birds and through poultry trade, it now has reached at least 55 nations around the world.

            This is an international concern.

            "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

            by Greg Dworkin on Tue Oct 02, 2007 at 04:35:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  terrific piece (0+ / 0-)

      Preparedness and awareness will undoubtedly play an enormous role in how successful our response is to a pandemic. That something seems impossible to plan for doesn't mean that no plan is possible.

  •  The "Government Response to a Disaster" (4+ / 0-)

    graph is a keeper.  I'm wondering what to do: the only bureaucracy that's given the resources it needs is the military, it's shot and nobody really wants to put it "in charge".  

    Read Obama's 2002 speech against invading Iraq.

    by Inland on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 06:55:32 AM PDT

    •  Where's Blackwater on that chart? (6+ / 0-)

      Just sayin'...

      Ed [Morrisey] happens to be a real nice guy - clammyc, 9/18/07

      by Richard Cranium on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 07:07:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, brilliant slide (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      particularly the way every arrow avoids the DHS.

    •  Bush De (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      splashy, kurt, adrianrf, Clio2

      Bush declared continuing "national emergency" on September 14, which allows the National Security Council to ignore Congress and all laws.

      For Immediate Release
      Office of the Press Secretary
      September 12, 2007

      Notice: Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Certain Terrorist Attacks

      Consistent with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency I declared on September 14, 2001, in Proclamation 7463, with respect to the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, New York, New York, the Pentagon, and aboard United Airlines flight 93, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States.

      Because the terrorist threat continues, the national emergency declared on September 14, 2001, last extended on September 5, 2006, and the powers and authorities adopted to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond September 14, 2007. Therefore, I am continuing in effect for an additional year the national emergency I declared on September 14, 2001, with respect to the terrorist threat.

      This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.


      •  It will be a permanent state of emergency. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kurt, adrianrf, brein

        No administration, Democratic or Republican, will ever dare be caught implying in public that the terrorist threat is over. It'll be like income tax. Your great-grandchildren will take for granted that there is always a state of emergency...

        Your only hope is to amend that National Emergencies Act, ASAP, to specify clearly that, come hell or high water, it doesn't matter what the emergency is, the administration is still not allowed to violate your anyone's civil rights.

        Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

        by Canadian Reader on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 11:30:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  These plans (13+ / 0-)

    to those of us who work in the trenches of Emergency Medicine, i.e. EMS and Emergency departments, are euphemistically called a "cluster f**k" or a circular firing squad. The reality is that before the medical emergency is even recognized,a lot of people will die or be disabled, many of those deaths will be among the people who are 1st responders and ED personnel. The hospital system in the immediate response area will be overwhelmed and need to be supported or taken over by outside agencies unaffected by the emergency. There are infinite scenarios and any plan is better than no plan. Just the opinion of someone who has worked in disaster areas and been in emergency medicine for nearly 30 years.
    We just keep our fingers crossed it won't happen or it will be contained before it becomes that overwhelming event.

    "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes" Wm. Shakespeare, "Macbeth"

    by TheMomCat on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 07:11:51 AM PDT

    •  local planning is key (5+ / 0-)

      and over-reliance on the feds is a disaster in itself. The message here is that the more you understand the framework, the more you understand the limitations.

      Locally, for example, communities need to plan for alternative care facilities and how to care for yourself and family at home if the hospitals are overwhelmed.

      The missing piece in these plans is almost always the part about telling the locals what the plans and limitations are, so that alternatives can be explored and current plans can be tested.

      That's the theme here:

      Although community members need to be able to shelter in place to protect themselves in various kinds of emergencies, the small group discussions (SGDs)  identify serious and unanticipated problems that make it neither feasible nor safe for many people to shelter in place under current conditions. The instructions that the public and organizations are currently being given do not address most of these problems and sometimes make matters worse. Nonetheless, the actions suggested by SGD participants demonstrate that communities can make it possible for most people to shelter in place and that a variety of approaches can be effective.

      Another good site to review is here:  

      This project aims to enhance public health preparedness for an influenza pandemic and conserve resources by sharing promising practices.

      CIDRAP and the Pew Center on the States (PCS) launched this initiative to collect and peer-review practices that can be adapted or adopted by public health stakeholders. The project was conceived and funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

      This collection of more than 130 practices represents a yearlong effort. Our Advisory Committee, composed of state and local public health and healthcare experts in pandemic influenza preparedness nationwide, selected the categories and topics at left.

      That's, of course, in addition to here.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 07:19:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I work in NYC (6+ / 0-)

        and every hospital and the EMS here has a disaster plan and everything looks great in theory and on paper. The reality is that in a area of 1 million people who live in low income housing projects, who rely on the local ED's for primary health care and are struggling from day to day just to exist, these plans are unrealistic. No matter how much the local community boards plan or try to inform the local population, just the yearly flu season over whelms the local hospitals and there are fewer alternatives in the last 5 years just in the area of Brooklyn where I work. Two major hospitals have closed  and placed an even greater burden on the remaining hospitals. The EMS has difficulty staffing all the ambulances on a daily basis and there are ED staff shortages as well. Factor in an epidemic to all of this and you have a calamity of major proportions. Just look at the Gulf coast and New Orleans, they couldn't rely on the Federal government for assistance.
        I have seen the realities of natural and man-made disasters around the world and worked in quite a few and you bring lots of body bags. Unless the US allows the assistance of NGO's other than the Red Cross, which in the US recieves government funds, a pandemic is going to be catastrophic for the health care community.

        "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes" Wm. Shakespeare, "Macbeth"

        by TheMomCat on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 08:12:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The problem with local planning (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DemFromCT, carolita, kurt, adrianrf, brein

        is that it is usually overwhelmed in any sort of crisis.  Before Hurricane Hugo made landfall, everyone was ordered to evacuate the beach which makes sense but no one warned the surrounding counties about the outflux of tourists and locals so that some people had to drive 150 miles to find shelter because surrounding county authorities had assumed most of the population would seek shelter in the beachside county.

        The joker in the deck was that Hugo made landfall farther south than expected, hit harder than expected and then headed west, hitting the very areas everyone had been directed towards in the evacuation.

        Another example is the day the local healthcare system tried to run its emergency plan only to get bogged down in the first fifteen minutes as various employees argued about who would and would not be present in the event of a pandemic.

        •  that's why you have to drill (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          amazing what comes up!

          "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

          by Greg Dworkin on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 08:49:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  In Dallas in 1986 (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kurt, brein

          There was an attempt to think about a practice emergency preparedness drill for their regional plan, which was predicated on an enemy attack. They did hospital preparedness drills, heavily covered on TV. Then they published the emergency evacuation plan, which boiled down to: get on US75 and head for Oklahoma.

          How they planned to move 3.5 million people rapidly on a 2 or 3-lane highway (back then it was a parking lot for 3 hours every morning and evening during rush hour) was not nearly as funny as contemplating what would happen when the first million people got to the stop light in Atoka, the only town  between I-40 and the Red River big enough to have one. Taking the "Alternate Route" (turning right) there led to Krebs, a town without a single paved street.

          Duck and cover would have been an improvement as a plan back then. I suspect it isn't much improved now.

          "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." -Edmund Burke

          by carolita on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 10:29:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Public Health Nurses (7+ / 0-)

    One of the programs that was extremely effective from the 30s through the 50s was the public health nursing network.  They actually went out into the communities to take information into homes and they were able to communicate the needs of the community back to the government structure.  They ran effective clinics and also provided a stitching mechanism for citizens between effective health providing agencies and other agencies that provided useful direct services to citizens (like cooperative extention).  These retail service providers functioned as members of the community as well as missionaries from a government, hence accurate information flowed back and forth between the street and government bureaucracies.  It seems to me that the best homeland security system would put these kinds of frontline agencies back into action so that various parts of local communities could their hands necessary tools and information for effectively combating emergencies of all kinds.  Just a thought

  •  National Response Framework (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OLinda, adrianrf

     If one really wants to get a glimpse of preparedness just look at the response to Katrina. Both the Republicans and the Dems in various levels of government totally screwed up.  The response to Katrina was a racist atrocity.

  •  We better hope (0+ / 0-)

    nothing really bad happens before a new, Democratic president is firmly established. I hate to think of what a Brownie would have done in a big epidemic, Nordstrom shirts and all.

    I could have been a soldier... I had got part of it learned; I knew more about retreating than the man that invented retreating. --Mark Twain

    by NogodsnomastersMary on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 08:13:30 AM PDT

  •  The real plan for a pandemic, terrorist attack (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    or just a pretend disaster can be found on residentcynic's diary which just mad the recommended diaries list.  Everyone should read it.

    This administration doesn't give a hoot about the well-being of its citizens. It is simply in power to try to establish the infrastructure to overthrow the Constitution and impose a fascist dictatorship.  They are in a desperate hurry now that they only have a few years left.

    We'd better be vigilant and be willing to aggressively defend our democracy.

    Big boss ain't so big, just tall, that's all.

    by TheFatLadySings on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 08:20:29 AM PDT

  •  btw (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OLinda, splashy, kurt, coolsub

    between last week's piece and this one, I am amazed and impressed by how many Emergency Managers read and comment here.

    Like scientists and other professionals, the diversity on the site is pretty amazing.

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 08:31:29 AM PDT

  •  one contingency not considered (0+ / 0-)

    I have found this series well researched and interesting so far, kudos to you, but there is an aspect of a terrorist attack or a huge disaster that has not been addressed.
    What I am concerned about is the possibility of losing our government.
    Granted for many (at times even myself), the prospect of a nuke taking out all or most of congress and the cabinet, along with the pres. and VP can actually seem appealing, the fact is that as far as I know there really is no plan to reconstitute the government in such a case.
    The rules of succession for the president are a step, but the framers never envisioned a circumstance where virtually the entire government could be eliminated at one stroke.
    A terrorist attack would be the most likely cause for such a disaster, but a particularly virulent virus, or some other disaster could do it also.
    Needless to say if our disaster planning and emergency services have problems with coordination and logistics now, imagine the case if there is essentially no national government.
    I don't know if you have plans for discussing this contingencey in future parts of the series, but I would encourage you to extend your fine work so far to cover that aspect as well.

    •  intriguing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


      The Catastrophic Incident Annex to the National Response Framework (NRF-CIA) establishes the context and overarching strategy for implementing and coordinating an accelerated, proactive national response to a catastrophic incident.

      A more detailed and operationally specific National Response Framework Catastrophic Incident Supplement (NRF-CIS) is published independently of the NRF and annexes


      Recognizing that Federal and/or national resources are required to augment overwhelmed State, tribal, and local response efforts, the NRF-CIA establishes protocols to preidentify and rapidly deploy key essential resources (e.g., medical teams, urban search and rescue teams, transportable shelters, medical and equipment caches, etc.) that are expected to be urgently needed/required to save lives and contain incidents.

      Accordingly, upon designation by the Secretary of Homeland Security of a catastrophic incident, Federal resources, organized into incident-specific "packages," deploy in accordance with the NRF-CIS and in coordination with the affected State and incident command structure.

      Where State, tribal, or local authorities are unable to establish or maintain an effective incident command structure due to catastrophic conditions, the Federal Government, at the direction of the Secretary of Homeland Security may establish a unified command structure to save lives, protect property, secure critical infrastructure/key resources, contain the event, and protect national security. The Federal Government shall transition to its normal role supporting incident command through State, tribal, or local authorities when their command is reestablished.

      The NRF is for how the feds interact with the states. A Continuity of Operations Plan  (COOP) for the Feds is a different order of business. CDC has one, for example, referenced within it's Operations plan (OPlan). But that doesn't mean it's published and available for inspection.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 09:16:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not only are COOPs not available to public (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        In some cases, they're not available to the agency's own employees, who are nevertheless expected to help implement them.

        "Secret" emergency plans, available only to a small elite, are useless.  In emergency response "need to know" includes everyone.  If only a fraction of those responding to an emergency know the plan, the purpose of a plan - to coordinate the actions of many - is undermined.

        Among a people generally corrupt, liberty cannot long exist. - Edmund Burke

        by Deep Harm on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 07:43:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  more here (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Federal Continuity of Operations Plan from wikipedia

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 09:24:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Previous Diary On Executive Orders (4+ / 0-)

    Bush renewed our national state of emergency around September 12. This has been the formally declared annually since 911. W's whole presidency has been under the fog of a "state of emergency."

    This formally makes Congress meaningless and lets the National Security Counsel hand over the operation of the federal government to private consultants. It also turns the federal budget into a vast slush fund.

  •  tv (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I saw a public service type announcement from DHS promoting the Web site Pandemic this morning.

    Support Thom Hartmann and migratory song birds! Buy shade grown coffee from a sponsor.

    by OLinda on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 09:34:57 AM PDT

    •  thanks! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OLinda, splashy

      CT has started a low key info campaign as well, featuring the governor.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 09:36:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  more... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Stresses Importance of Individual Preparedness

        Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced the start of a public education campaign to encourage Connecticut residents to be prepared for pandemic influenza.

        "September is National Preparedness Month, and we need to make certain we are prepared for any type of disaster, whether it is natural or manmade," Governor Rell said. "While no one knows for sure when a pandemic will strike, we know that pandemics do happen. Fortunately, we can take steps now to prepare for this potential public health crisis."

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 09:37:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  And to make it even harder than it looks already (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    splashy, kurt, adrianrf

    You got to figure out how one of Dick Cheney's buddies can make a buck off it.

    Recovering Intellectual. 12 days stupid.

    by scionkirk on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 10:50:38 AM PDT

  •  My company (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DemFromCT, splashy, RisingTide, adrianrf

    Is leading an effort at local and regional disaster planning in OK.  As a result, many of us in leadership positions were asked (told) to take the training courses and exams on the National Response Plan.  So, great I have four FEMA certificates, suitable for framing or wrapping fish, in my personnel file.

    The coursework was awful.  A hodgepodge of unclear and redundant structure and information around what sounds like a good idea: a flexible framework that meets the needs of disasters large and small.  The tests were even worse.  Questions after question drilling the "org chart" and who is in charge (Hint: it's the Feds).

    Maybe it's my cynicism and paranoia, but I came away from the whole thing thinking that it is nothing but a blueprint for declaring an endless state of martial law where the government and big corporations seize everything and rule with the force of a boot stomping on a human face--forever.

    "It's been headed this way since the World began, when a vicious creature made the jump from Monkey to Man."--Elvis Costello

    by BigOkie on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 10:56:10 AM PDT

    •  the trouble is implementation (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and an over-focus on terrorism to the detriment of natural disasters. Still, there are a lot of dedicated people at less than cabinet level trying to make something work.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 11:37:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wish them well (0+ / 0-)

        Perhaps with a change of government the whole thing could come together better.

        Thanks for the great series, by the way.  Very important stuff.

        "It's been headed this way since the World began, when a vicious creature made the jump from Monkey to Man."--Elvis Costello

        by BigOkie on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 12:35:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The "trouble" is much more complex than that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DemFromCT, splashy

        Having spent years as an emergency planning in the federal government, I can say with personal knowledge that many of the problems in emergency planning predate the Bush administration. Federal agencies rarely updated their plans - if they had any at all, and some senior officials tried to avoid creating plans. (A plan delegates responsibilities, and the last thing a senior federal official wants is to be held responsible.)
        Few senior officials were trained in emergency planning.  But, many were too arrogant to listen to experts on their staffs (if any). One of the biggest problems (which I have not heard mentioned) is the bureaucrats' insistance on following a bureaucratic structure, which is not suited to emergency response. (Rather than send an emergency notification out to everyone at once, I've seen bureaucrats try to force it to go step by step up the chain of command.)

        In the Bush administration, many employees experienced with federal emergency response were harassed and driven out or left for bigger salaries in the private sector. Newcomers lack the institutional knowledge that is needed, along with emergency preparedness expertise.

        These are just a few of many factors I could cite in addition to the focus on terrorism.  It may not serve Democratic political goals to acknowledge that many problems are longstanding problems; but it's critical to saving lives.

        Among a people generally corrupt, liberty cannot long exist. - Edmund Burke

        by Deep Harm on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 08:18:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  no question this is so (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Deep Harm

          any and all suggestions for improvement need to look forward. This is not going to get 'fixed' any time soon, so 'situational awareness' of current status is vital.

          "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

          by Greg Dworkin on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 09:36:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I predict: (0+ / 0-)

    Things will get out of control WHILE people are staring at the problem, scratching their heads, and going, "WTF?"

    Some simple slogans might help. Something that rhymes and is therefore easy to repeat and remember.

    I also predict unexpected local 'leaders' will arise to be amazingly helpful and inventive. Like in the SF earthquake. the big one.

    I'd like to have my own bodybag at home, so as not to inconvenience too many people.

    I suggest boiling this diary's information down into three paragraphs for the benefit of our overly busy leaders.

  •  One important conclusion (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DemFromCT, dcvote, splashy, Clio2

    for me anyway:

    It's really impossible to prepare with much confidence for a complex problem of which we have no highly relevant prior experience.  It's important to try to anticipate disasters, but there are various laws of human endeavor -- from Murphy's famous "whatever can go wrong will," to the law of unintended consequences, to Johansen's law, "Everything takes longer than you expect, even after taking into account Johansen's law."

    That's why robust preparation requires a highly decentralized structure and plan. If the response network is too tightly linked and controlled from the center, the inevitable screwup will demolish the whole effort.  With local capability and authority, mistakes, rather than immediately propagating or damaging the entire network, will have local effects, and may be recognized before they are widely repeated.

    Just as important, decentralized authority helps to preserve democracy and liberty under circumstances when they might well be under threat due to the manipulation of fear.  I don't have to point to any obscure or distant history to prove that point.

    •  very true (0+ / 0-)

      Resilient communities at the local level make more sense than reliance at centralized levels. And no one knows the community like the community.

      there is a personal responsibility built into that, of course. But understanding the system even a little leads to the conclusion that over-reliance on the centralized sector is a mistake.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 05:31:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  this whole thing... (0+ / 0-)

    makes me want to learn how to drive commercial trucks.

    or something productive.

    i'm in the creative class, so whatever I do isn't strictly "need first".  

    But I wish there was a way I could learn how to drive, and then sign up somewhere.

    A civic duty to share someone else's burden.

  •  Why not focus on the wicked govt at hand... (0+ / 0-)

    that is now responsible for 3800 DEAD Americans, 25,000 wounded and perhaps over a million DEAD Iraqis?

    Let's give it a name and submit to the disaster crew for their advice!

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