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HSPD21: Community Resilience

November 17, 2007

Group photo This post is one in a series examining the recently-released Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21: Public Health and Medical Preparedness. Previous posts can be found here: Initial Reactions, Biosurveillance, Countermeasure Distribution, Mass Casualty Care.

Quick post today, as the community resilience section isn’t so much of a section; in fact it’s just two paragraphs long.  It really is to be expected, though.  Truthfully, there is only so much the feds can do to promote community resilience outside of physically changing folks’ mindsets.  Besides, I think the American people are pretty resilient – especially after the whole Hurricane Katrina debacle (ie. they know the feds aren’t going to help, and they need to just take care of themselves).

Paragraph 32 basically says that preparedness issues should be baked into core public health and medical curricula and training.  I don’t see how you can argue against that.  There will, of course, be push-back from older instructors, but I think that’s a good thing.  It will help to instill that, “If you hear hoof beats, think horses – not zebras,” way of thinking.

Paragraph 33 is much more vague.  I’m not really sure what should come out of it.  It’s written in an extremely passive manner, and feels like it’s just there to flesh out the section.  See for yourself, and let me know if you agree or not:

(33) Within 270 days after the date of this directive, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in coordination with the Secretaries of Defense, Commerce, Labor, Education, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security and the Attorney General, shall submit to the President for approval, through the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, a plan to promote comprehensive community medical preparedness.

Huh?  I’m not really even sure what “comprehensive community medical preparedness” is, let alone have any idea how to coordinate seven of the most powerful and busy men in the country into developing a plan to promote it.  But hey, I’m not the expert here, am I?

Photo credit: premasagar

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 18, 2009 2:56 pm

    Dear Chris,
    Comprehensive Community Medical Preparedness means understanding the culture/environment (human and physical geography), risk (absolute and relative), and vulnerability (ecological and socioeconomic). For example, in Japan, a neighborhood will have preparedness exercises where people wear masks (issued to each individual by emergency managers) as a protective measure in case of a SARS Outbreak. Japan also utilizes machizukuri, or Townmaking, a bottoms-up approach that replaced

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