In the years since 9/11, those in disaster planning, preparation, education, response and recovery have concentrated all their effort on convincing private healthcare corporations and non-healthcare corporations alike to adopt an all hazards approach to adversity and disaster.
Perhaps because 9/11 and anthrax were the impetus for the funding of this push, corporate America has associated this large expense with what they believe to be an unlikely threat, terrorism. The 2004 – 2005 hurricane seasons gave the southeastern regions of the United States a clear focus for disaster preparedness in the forms of hurricanes Charlie, Francis, Ivan, Jeanne, Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Unfortunately with this focus came a tendency to prepare for hurricanes, certainly not an all hazards approach.
The simple fact missed by all but a very few in the disaster community and even fewer in the disaster planning, preparation, education, response and recovery industry is that the word “disaster” does not belong in the title. We are not a “disaster” community, nor are we in the “disaster” planning, preparation, education and recovery industry, rather we are the “All Hazards” planning, preparation, education and recovery community.
Before you assume this is simply a matter of semantics, think about what we seek to accomplish. Our “All Hazards” community does not just seek to prepare for the possible of a terrorist attack or a natural disaster, we seek to fundamentally change attitudes and behaviors so that when adversity strikes or disaster looms large on the horizon, our citizens, our communities and our infrastructure are prepared. Our true goal is to never again see a line at Home Depot or the grocery store the day before or the day after a disaster.
This is not a new concept. The practice of vulnerability analysis and risk assessment is well established in many safety sensitive industries and in the military. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) first applied this process to civilian hospitals in response to the epidemic rise of hospital acquired infections including Legionnaire’s Disease, Hepatitis, AID’s, Staph and MRSA. Later the Institutes of Medicine applied this practice to the healthcare industry as a whole in the 1999 To Err Is Human report. Far from a treatise on disaster preparation, To Err is Human was the warning siren that brought the issues of patient safety and medication errors to the public forum.
Although voluminous, the main thrust of To Err is Human was to review the lack of reporting systems and fail safes in the healthcare system as a whole and to correlate the current state of safety in healthcare to that of other industries. To Err is Human goes to great lengths to detail “public-private” safety efforts, but overall the report proposes the groundwork and a justification for governmental intervention and federal regulation of healthcare safety and by implication, healthcare quality/certification.
If this sounds a lot like the trio of 2006 Institute of Medicine reports on the state of Emergency Medicine and disaster preparedness, it is very similar. The 2006 reports when combined with the 1999 To Err is Human report demonstrate the similarity between community wide disasters and patient centered disasters. A true “All Hazards” approach to preparedness thus should include patient safety, medication safety, fire safety and personal safety in addition to the current concentration on terrorism and disaster preparedness.
There are a number of advantages to this expanded “All Hazards” approach for infection control, patient safety, planning and preparedness. The greatest of these is the integration of patient safety initiatives and disaster preparedness training allowing healthcare professionals to practice disaster preparation skills as part of their daily routine. This has applications in team building, triage, safety reviews, command structures, patient throughput and literally every aspect of hospital operations.
The implications go far beyond the immediate process improvements that come from an “All Hazards” training program. The mind set that is instilled in those trained in an “All Hazards” approach to daily operations lends to innovations in operational processes and streamlining of previously entrenched systems.
“All Hazards” training also creates the “common safety investment” that the To Err is Human states is missing from healthcare, but common to such industries as air travel and railroads (pilots and engineers share the same “safety investment” as passengers). Those who have received “All Hazards” training come to understand and internalize that reality that any risk that exists for a patient exists for the healthcare professional as well.
Finally, recognizing patient safety issues and all the other safety issues in healthcare as hazards under an “All Hazards” approach will result in better success in achieving both sets of goals. Patient safety initiatives celebrate their seventh anniversary this year, but even the CEO of the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) admits that medication error and wrong site surgery have grown exponentially in that time. Simultaneously, reports from both CDC and JCAHO demonstrate that failures of personal hygiene have resulted in an unabated increase in the rate of hospital acquired infections. Despite a virtually limitless budget and the best efforts of the best minds in patient safety and infection control, healthcare has not gotten better, it has gotten more dangerous.
At the same time, the past five years has seen hospital and healthcare disaster preparedness change only marginally. The 2006 Institute of Medicine reports severely criticizes healthcare for failing to invest in “All Hazards” preparedness despite the fact that it has been proven effective not only in increasing security, but increasing surge capacity, safety and efficiency. For “All Hazards” preparedness, the problem is not having the budget to apply a proven and effective solution.
Dealing with infection risks, patient risks, medication errors and surgical mishaps as additional categories of hazards under an all encompassing “All Hazards” approach promises to solve the problems for both programs. Patient safety will benefit from the proven efficacy of an “All Hazards” approach designed specifically to mitigate multifactorial risk while “All Hazards” training programs will finally have the budget priority and funding needed to ensure system wide implementation.
The only question remaining is whether those who have made their careers in patient safety as it has been practiced for the past seven years are prepared to adopt a broader view of the world and whether the “All Hazards” community is ready to be truly “All Hazards” in their approach.
Griffin Works offers Pawsitive Interactions with Service Dogs During Response Operations©, an audience-customized training that breaks down barriers by offering hands-on handling training and demonstrations with working service dogs for fire departments, EMS agencies, and public safety organizations.
Part of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium and home to the National Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center, TEEX has been leading homeland security training since 1998. The major TEEX programs include fire and rescue, infrastructure and safety, law enforcement, economic and workforce development, and homeland security. As a member of The Texas A&M University System, TEEX is unique in its ability to access a broad range of emerging research and technical expertise. Beginning with course design and development all the way through hands-on instruction and national certification testing, TEEX delivers comprehensive training through both classroom and hands-on instruction and as online courses.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) was created by Congress in 2000 as part of the Children’s Health Act to raise the standard of care and increase access to services for children and families who experience or witness traumatic events. This unique network of child-serving professionals, caregivers and young adults, researchers, and national partners is committed to changing the course of children’s lives by improving their care and moving scientific gains quickly into practice across the U.S. The NCTSN is administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and coordinated by the UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress (NCCTS).
The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) is part of the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The EMI provides national leadership in developing and delivering training to ensure that individuals and groups having key emergency management responsibilities possess the requisite skills to effectively perform their jobs.
The High Alert Institute maintains a list of reviewed courses provided by governments, universities and professional organizations. This list is geared towards the non-emergency management person who participates in disaster planning, preparedness, response, recovery or mitigation as part of their job responsibilities.
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Koi need forever homes, too! For pond enthusiasts, freshwater exotic and ornamental fish may not be available through pet stores or rescues in their area. The High Alert Institute Aquatic Pet Shelter Rehoming Program will be happy to assist you in stocking your new pond or adding a new finned friend to your school. Coming soon – when you adopt a Koi from the High Alert Institute Aquatic Pet Shelter Rehoming Program, we can arrange for delivery to your door anywhere in the continental United States.
Have you always wanted a Koi pond but don’t have the space one? Sponsor a Koi in our community shelter pond and we send you photos of your sponsored animal. Coming soon are live Koi Cameras above and below the water to enjoy your sponsored Koi anytime.
Dumping of freshwater non-native species and exotic aquatic pets into wild habitats is a man-made disaster that is truly preventable. The Institute’s Aquatic Pet Welfare Partnership works to raise awareness and reduce the impact on healthy ecosystems through education, as well as rescue and rehoming. Joined by champions of animal welfare and environmental stewardship, this association of aquatic pet rescue operations and aquatic pet shelters across the United States aims to save our finned friends and preserve our waterways together.
Want to share our cause with family, friends, and colleagues? Looking for a non-traditional way to celebrate a birthday or honor someone special? Support the Institute by starting your own Peer-to-Peer fundraising challenge! Let your contacts know why our mission is important to you and what they can do to support your cause. START YOUR OWN FUNDRAISER for the High Alert Institute.
From the staffing pool to the shelter ponds, from the boardroom to the classroom, and from reading the science to writing the analyses, High Alert Institute programs and services benefit from the experience, expertise, and generosity of our volunteers. Put your talents to use for good and to good use – VOLUNTEER TODAY.
Make your donation twice as nice by rehoming aquatic pets and providing a rehabilitation companion pet to a deserving person, family, or facility. Sponsor part or all of a Joy of Koi Program pond installation – complete with rehomed koi – and give the gifts of love and recovery.
Professional photographers, amateurs, and legal copywrite holders are all welcome to participate in the High Alert Institute Nature Photo Donation Program. Sales of the images benefit the Institute and donors are eligible for tax deductions equivalent to the fair market value of their photos. Landscapes, seascapes, animals, flowers – all may be accepted – whether new or vintage images. People may be included in the photo but only if unidentifiable (i.e., blurred figures at a distance).
Did you know that unused patents and copyrights can be donated to charity? Intellectual Property (IP) just sitting on a shelf will lose value as it becomes obsolete. The High Alert Institute IP Donation Program seeks to rescue stranded, technology-related IP with the potential for development into marketable products. Once accepted by the program, the owner/inventor is eligible for a tax deduction equivalent to the fair market value of the IP. The Institute receives the patent licensing fees or revenue from the sale of the IP to businesses, helping us to fund our mission. In turn, businesses are able to advance their markets and create jobs for less money than starting a project from scratch.
Disasters are defined as situations in which needs exceed or overwhelm available resources. Some disasters affect an entire community, while other disasters impact individuals and families. Crises of physical or psychological health can be very personal disasters.
The therapeutic value of pets during illness, trauma, and recovery is well established. And Koi fish may be well suited for people who are not able to provide verbal pet commands or physically care for pets like dogs and cats. Koi ponds are also a source of beauty and peace, providing an ideal setting for quiet reflection or meditation.
We are working to partner with pond installers and aquatic pet rescues/shelters to offer free or reduced-cost ponds with rehomed Koi fish to people seeking this type of pet therapy.
Disasters disrupt life and impact our sense of personal, family, and community safety. Survivors and responders alike often are not aware of the emotional, psychological or spiritual challenges that they may face from disaster onset through recovery. With two decades of experience training responders and communities to prepare for the behavioral health aspects of disasters, we will continue to provide education and a curated list of resources to groups or individuals.
Non-medical factors that impact overall health are termed Social Determinants of Health or SDoH. Noise pollution, poor air quality, and poor water quality are three environmental factors known to have a strong link to overall health. And the same environmental factors that impact humans impact their pets and other animals in their care. We continue to assist in advocacy, education, and technology development to mitigate the impact of SDoH on humans and animals alike.
Our efforts in shelter and rescue are the main focus of our environmental stewardship, reducing the environmental impact of non-native aquatic animals being dumped into public waterways. The High Alert Institute also assists innovators with the design, development, and evaluation of green and renewable energy technologies. Reducing the carbon footprint associated with disaster preparedness, response, and recovery furthers our continued mission to mitigate risk and improve resilience.
We partner with public and private organizations, sharing resources and fostering partnerships to improve disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, and mitigation.
The High Alert Institute team has over a century of combined research experience in medical, nursing, behavioral health, and disaster sciences. Our team provides support to researchers and technology developers through comprehensive literature searches and reviews, as well as failure mode database searches and adjudicated reviews.
When disaster strikes, most aquatic pet owners have limited options to secure the safety of their pets. Sheltering in place may not be possible if there is no power to provide aeration and “pet-friendly” shelters do not include ponds or aquariums. Our goal is to provide an option for aquatic pet owners in need of rescue and shelter for their finned friends.
Our goal is to share our two decades of disaster readiness experience with animal welfare organizations, shelters, caretakers, and pet owners, as they implement contingency plans for natural and manmade disasters.