I'll only leave this up on the Front Page for about a week. Comments are welcome.
In the afternoon of August 18, I had the opportunity to sit and talk for about an hour with the one person in my state who is probably more in tune with, and concerned about, Pandemic Influenza than anyone I've met off-line. I wish I could divulge his name and title, but he asked that I not do that, due to the politics involved here. But do rest assured that this person knows what he's talking about.
This coming November will be the 2nd live, all-state Pandemic Flu excercise. More on that in an upcoming Diary.
|The first thing we talked about was the importance of ventilators. This is the same person I spoke with last week about the number of vents available here in the state, as well as the US.
After hemming and hawwing, he looked straight at me and said "There is no way ventilators are going to keep anyone alive in a pandemic. Even Health Care Workers will be working in panic mode, scared that they may catch the bug, and there is a good possibility that mistakes will be made. Vents need to be attached and adjusted by a Respiratory Therapist, and there aren't enough RTs to go around. A large majority of HCWs are not going to want to put themselves at risk as they have to remove tubes and expose themselves to a deadly virus. The only option that we've seen is to put them in full bio-hazard suits, and we just don't have those available on a large-scale basis."
We spoke about the option of home-care, and the one thing mentioned most often was that most home-care will mainly consist of keeping the patient rested, hydrated, and calm. The majority of the population doesn't know, and wouldn't be comfortable using, medical procedures without a trained HCW at hand.
Quarantines. They won't happen. Not in Virginia, anyway. The thinking is that, first, this is the US. Ever since WWII, we don't quarantine entire populations for any reason, and FEMA knows that. Second, to cut off a group of people, either for their own safety or the safety of others would be nearly impossible given the size of the areas that would be affected by such a quarantine. There are some differences in what the local Emergency Planners are saying and what the state executives are saying, though. That will need to be looked into very closely, and some "adjustments" will have to be made.
School closures. This state, like Massachussetts, is a Commonwealth. The Department of Education has no say over individual school districts when it comes to closing schools. That decision is left entirely up to the districts. It really bothers most of us, including my contact, but that's the way it is here. Nothing short of a major state vote is going to change that.
Community Preps. The Commonwealth has set aside their stockpile of anti-virals and emergency supplies to be used, not just for PanFlu, but for most major disasters. We were the first state to take part in the purchase of the Tamiflu stockpile, and the second state to have live PanFlu excercises that encompassed the majority of health districts in the state. There have been at least 8 localities that have held seminars and neighborhood meetings, one of which I attended last year: Local Williamsburg PanFlu Prep Presentation.
PSAs The Commonwealth has several on-line pages ready for JIT broadcast in case of PanFlu, as well as a new draft of the state Influenza plan, dated June 2008, as well as the official state website here.
As for current PSAs, I haven't seen nor heard any broadcasts regarding PanFlu or prepping. We're in the middle of storm/hurricane season, and most of the prep focus is there. Apparently, the PanFlu plan is to notify the public as soon as a threat is realized. Unfortunately, the public prep announcements will mimic what is on pandemicflu.gov, which at this time is "up to two weeks" of food and water.
We spoke for about an hour, covering several areas along with the above. Basically, the state is prepared for just about any emergency and/or disaster. At least, as well prepared as local politics will allow at this time.