The Power of One
Author: Allison A. Sakara, Np, MSN, RN, PHRN
“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg
“We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in our hands to make a difference.”
- Nelson Mandela
By embracing the One Health, One Nature concept, we acknowledge and appreciate the interconnectedness of all creatures and all habitats. The well-being of every animal, plant, and person depends upon the unified health of the natural world. Hazards that threaten or impact the One Nature will be determinants of the One Health. In this article, we will reflect on our recent series dedicated to the many adverse effects of PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) as a vivid example of the One Health, One Nature model and how this leads to the next steps of All Hazards, One Framework.
Industries and manufacturers have used synthetic chemicals known as PFAS since the 1940s. These durable and chemically resistant substances are incorporated into countless products to create smooth surfaces, resist stains, repel water, and withstand fire. Unfortunately, the exact property that makes these chemicals so popular is also what has made PFAS so problematic. These substances do not break down easily or spontaneously, needing more than 1,000 years to degrade by just one-half. And not only does PFAS remains intact generation after generation, these toxins continually accumulate in our shared One Nature – in the air, water, soil, plants, animals, and our bodies.
Understanding and valuing the planet as One Nature allows us to realize both the positive and negative consequences of our interactions with every aspect of our environment. With respect to PFAS, these interactions have critically harmful effects. The continual assault by PFAS toxins in our air, water, soil, and food supplies is having dire consequences. Every living thing is suffering organ damage, procreation dysfunction, and many other health problems. For as we are of One Nature, so too are we of One Health. But how do we begin to tackle these threats to ourselves and our planet?
When considering individual hazards and threats, a first instinct may be to have a separate plan for each situation that you can envision. Typically, such plans involve actions that are different from our everyday activities and may be difficult to coordinate or even remember in the midst of a crisis or urgent situation. However, disaster response history has taught us a different approach. Regardless of the specific risk or threat, having the response follow a common pathway allows us to learn what to expect and does not require new skill sets every time. We can learn and trust that every hazard will be addressed in a goal-oriented manner, with assessments and actions needed to achieve the desired outcome. That is the essence – and the strength – of the All Hazards, One Framework approach. So, then, how can we use this process to save our shared One Nature, One Health from the effects of pollutants like PFAS?
To address the many issues related to PFAS contamination, the All Hazards, One Framework approach coaches us first to set the goals for response, recovery, and resilience. With these goals in mind, the problem’s assessment is done next, followed by the actions required to achieve the desired outcome. As detailed in prior articles, the scope of the PFAS problem has been evaluated extensively and found to be vast, with devastating effects for the entire planet. Eliminating new sources and removing existing sources would be necessary to combat any hazard and certainly applies to PFAS remediation. Due to the characteristics of PFAS, these actions will need to occur in tandem if any real progress is to be made in our lifetime. Furthermore, remediation and elimination of PFAS from all links in the food chain will require collaboration and action on the part of individuals, communities, leadership, and many other stakeholders. Each of us holds the power of using or purchasing PFAS-free goods, advocating for the removal of PFAS from our environment, and supporting organizations and leadership who support One Health, One Nature above self-interest.
One Heath, One Nature teaches us that we are integral to an Incredibly diverse planetary ecosystem of interdependent parts. The ability to influence positive change lives in each of us. To safeguard each component of this ecosystem, we will need to face and overcome All Hazards, both natural and man-made. Shared dedication and involvement of every individual, family, community, organization, and industry can be unified through One Framework approaches and enable us to meet these challenges. There is strength in our collective efforts to sustain positive change. These are the strengths – and the responsibilities – of One.
About the Author:
Allison A. Sakara, NP, MSN, RN, PHRN, is a nurse practitioner with decades of experience in pediatrics, hematology/oncology, and disaster response. Allison is the Co-Founder & Executive Director of the High Alert Institute, a 501c3 not-for-profit educational public charity dedicated to providing disaster readiness education and resources to unserved and underserved communities, industries, and charitable organizations in an All Hazards, One Health, One Nature, One Framework paradigm. Learn more about the High Alert Institute at www.HighAlertInstitute.org.
You can also learn about PFAS remediation and replacement education from our partner, Five Bugles Institute, at www.fivebuglesinstitute.com/pfas
Two reputable organizations maintaining lists of PFAS-free products, retailers, and packaging policies are listed below:
- Clean Production Action (https://www.cleanproduction.org/resources/entry/pfas) – listings of food packaging, food production, and food service items verified to be PFAS-free
- PFAS Central (https://pfascentral.org/pfas-free-products/) – listings of brands, products, retailers, and manufacturers that are verified PFAS-fee
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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.
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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.
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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.