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One Month Roundup – Take One

June 25, 2008

Just because I’m swamped at work and overwhelmed by family doesn’t mean that things have stopped happening in the world. Here’s proof:

The folks over at Web Worker Daily (a telecommuting evangelist blog) posted about a unique organization that’s been participating in disaster response around the world, Telecoms Without Borders.

In 2006 and 2007, the organization responded to 17 emergency situations from Peru to the Democratic Republic of Congo, creating temporary telecommunication centers to help reunite families and speed relief efforts.

The Homeland Security Digital Library pointed us to the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists site, which is now hosting, or linking to, state influenza plans for 45 of the 50 states.

For a short while, I subscribed to a feed from FEMA on news releases coming from the agency. If you want to know everything that’s happening in all disasters around the country, I urge you to subscribe. If that sounds like too much to you (and it was for me), know that there is some wheat in that chaff, though there’s probably an easier way to get at it. As an example, I noticed that FEMA was named to be the gateway agency for the proposed nation-wide cell phone alert system. Between you me and everyone else listening in, it sounds like a lot of hokey pokey to me, as alerts really should be delivered by the lowest possible responding agency–though I do understand the desire by the cell phone companies to have to secure an MOU for only one EMA, as opposed to the 2,000+ across the country.

The fine folks at Effect Measure wondered out loud about the money spent on biodefense by the feds. John Bowen also posted on this subject. I tend to stake a middle ground between the two of them. I agree with John that money spent to secure and protect our country is a good thing (after all, it’s not like the money was coming to public health without the biodefense tag, right?)–though carte blanche throwing around money for what amounts to “boy’s toys” is not the best way to do things. And I agree with Revere that this money could be better spent on traditional public health activiities–though I feel that biodefense spending does support those activities, to some degree. I know I promised more “goodnews” stories, but things have been crazy. Those stories tagged as “goodnews” are examples of this intersection of where traditional public health and biodefense happen to occur. I hereby call for more Good News, then.

Finally, in this installment, John Solomon of the other In Case of Emergency blog pointed out an article in the Sarasota Herald Tribune regarding Florida emergency management hero Craig Fugate. One point that I took away from the article (besides the clever “Semper Gumby”) was the idea that people affected by disaster shouldn’t be thought of as victims. This leads to the belief that those people need to be saved, or taken care of. Disaster affectees should be called, rightfully so, survivors. They’ve survived the disaster. They’re empowered to help others and take care of themselves until government is able to respond. It’s a simple change in language, but I’m a believer in the power of words, so I think it’s an amazing little change.

Take Two coming shortly.

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