Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Prepare - While there is no epidemic

If you look at the six articles I wrote last year on the subject of Epidemic, I first introduced Swine Flu, with the subtitle of "don't panic, but take precautions." Within a couple of days I followed that article with another, since the nation was already in a panic: even closing schools where no clear cases had been diagnosed.

In less than a week, panic and stupidity had gripped the nation. Some were closing every public event. Others were just looking for someone to blame.

One of the best quotes of the whole season was:
When a pandemic hits, you deal with it using the resources you've got. Like an unexpected invasion, it's a "come as you are" event. The trick is to foresee the pandemic and to build up the personnel, equipment, and organization to stop it.

But if your response to the threat of pandemic is to be stupidly sanctimonious, all your planning will be in vain.

So, two lessons can be learned already. One is to plan ahead, realizing an epidemic or pandemic is (always) likely to happen not many years, or even months in the future. The other is to deal with it in a level headed and even handed way.

Of course, for the public, and even more so, the politicians, this is not going to be the case. And especially if the current crop of politicians is still in office. As their forefathers, Saul Alinsky and Rahm Emanuel point out, they will never let a good crisis go to waste.

As I somewhat point out in my forth article both the public, and the government have two modes of operation: complacency and panic (hat tip to former energy secretary, James Schlesinger). My forth article was written while the pandemic was still going on - but had been overshadowed by political maneuvering in congress and was forgotten. While my forth article is a good read, I was discussing things the nation needed to do, and as I have pointed out, that is hopeless.

We need, as individuals, to respond to our own circumstances. At the end of my first two articles, I mentioned measures individuals can take. They still apply. And they apply before the first news of an epidemic. Those first four articles were written in a period of less than three weeks after the outbreak hit the news.

The government declared the swine flu an official emergency a few months later. The government had ramped up the machinery and created a vaccine. People, at first, lined up around the block and even resorted to crime to get the vaccine. Then it was forgotten again. Some of the vaccine even expired and was thrown out like garbage.

The time to prepare is now. Slowly and methodically. If a major epidemic were to hit unexpectedly, it will likely shut down our transportation system. Bare supermarket shelves will happen in just a few days. My first couple of articles mentioned measures to take, and they still apply.

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