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Serving Those Who Serve

June 1, 2007

image In light of yesterday’s post about health care workers being unsure of their responding to an emergency by coming to work because of concerns for their safety both in commute and while at work, I wanted to bring to everyone’s attention this post found on the DHHS blog, Pandemic Flu Leadership.

Mr. Coston, of Avian Flu Diary, advanced an admirable idea, and one that deserves repeating.  He says:

It doesn’t matter if it’s a cop, a firefighter, an EMT, doctor, nurse, mortuary worker, utility worker, or anyone else who will be on the front lines.

While they are out working during a crisis, protecting us, they shouldn’t have to worry that no one is looking after their families.  Those people who will stay home can be good neighbors and check on these families each day, make sure they have adequate supplies, and help them if they need it.

I do my best to keep my family prepared for anything, but since I’ve started this job, we’ve had to rework our plans.  Plans that at one time depended very heavily on my being at home are now changing so that my family can stay safe without me.  And no matter how well prepared we are, I’ll still be worried about them – and my neighbors.  Off the top of my head, I can think of four people who will be called on to work in a disaster on my block.  Mothers and fathers who are depended on will go missing just when their families need them the most.

It is for this reason that I wholeheartedly support efforts like FluWikie, and AvianFluDiary.  In the preparedness, response and medical fields we do everything we can to make sure that we can respond to a disaster, yet fail to take into account the vast resources available all around us.  If our neighbors are prepared, if our communities know what’s going on, and are ready to be part of the solution — that is the ultimate form of mitigation.

By keeping our communities in the loop, they’ll know to have water and food stockpiled (to the best of their abilities), and to check in on the elderly and families of responders.  They’ll have some familiarity with social distancing techniques and will be less likely to panic.  Yes, you’re neighbors might look at you strangely when you raise the specter of a pandemic and self-preparedness, but who knows, maybe they’ll check in on your kids when you can’t.

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