Tuesday, March 19, 2013

WMD: Why Everyone's Gonna Die Pt. 2

Yesterday's scenario was (thank God) purely fictional.

And to some tiny minority of disaster planners, largely unlikely.

Then, there's everybody else who knows how it works in the real world.

So, purely for informational purposes, let's note that there are three places the FAA has made it absolutely verbotten to fly over:
The White House
The Capitol
a small playground with a rather well-known mountain right next to a famous castle and run by a large four-fingered rodent.

That would seem to indicate those are considered, upon mature reflection, high-value targets for terrorism.

As a consequence, for over a decade since 9/11, besides spending gazillions on other things, the feds have pumped wildly ridiculous sums of money for training into local cities' budgets, for responding to terrorism, and the equipment and such to deal with such a scenario's management and response.

So imagine, just for informational purposes, that very close to one of those high-value targets, a report of a huge plume of unknown chemical composition is observed spewing from the roof of a building. Some things might come to mind in a prudent response.

Such as, for example, dispatching police units to arrive post-haste and set up a cordon, well out of the zone of airborne contamination.

And having some means of knowing the wind direction and speed, before making that call.

It probably isn't a good idea to park your first-in fire response vehicles directly under the descending chemical plume, and coating those vehicles and crews with the unknown chemical in their street clothes.

It's probably even worse, when all the inhabitants of the building are running out, jumping in their cars and driving off madly in all directions, just as that first arriving unit pulls up to a stop.

Then, noting said cloud overhead, you probably wouldn't send your guys inside to "see what's going on" with no protective equipment on.

And you wouldn't want to grab the first contaminated victim, and load them straight into a paramedic ambulance, without decontaminating the patient, or suiting up the paramedics first.

And you really wouldn't want to then drive the now entirely contaminated patient, paramedic, ambulance, and driver, out of the hot zone, and off to the local emergency room.

And no one would want you to fail to inform the receiving hospital, let alone your dispatch center, God, and the world, that you had the first of any number of chemically-contaminated patients en route from an unmitigated hazmat disaster.

It would also be the height of stupidity, lacking any notice to said hospital, to bring your contaminated selves, and your contaminated patient, straight into the inside of the main ER on a busy night.

And then, you'd be really stupid to place that patient directly into a room vented to not only the rest of the huge and busy ER, but also to the main radiology department for the ER, and to all the outside waiting rooms.

And then, and only then, let the staff know that the patient was contaminated by a mystery chemical, and you did all those things above, is pretty bad too.

Because you might have killed your police officers, your fire crews, your paramedics, and contaminated God knows how many other sites when all those unrestrained contaminated victims flooded 100 other ERs anywhere within 100 miles, plus any responders if they had any number of accidents en route to home, or one of those other ERs, or their families and neighbors. And then contaminated and/or killed not only the original receiving hospital's entire staff of doctors, nurses, PAs, techs, and support staff, but also all their patients, and all the patients in the lobby, their family members accompanying them, plus the security guards, the parking attendants, the maintenance men, the cooks in the cafeteria, and so on ad infinitum, but then also repeated the scenario dozens of times over, wiping out healthcare for half a state in short order.

And of course, not acting like any of that had happened, and waiting to see if anyone drops dead, is probably not the recommended course of action a prudent hospital receiving this chain of situational incompetence would want to follow either.

Because, I think we can agree, that would be baaaaaaad. M'kay?

So, see if you can guess what unnamed fire department, unnamed police department, unnamed location, unnamed hospital, and unnamed emergency response region did when presented with this in real life, and guess exactly how many of the above Bad Ideas actually occured, spontaneously, without any effort or malicious intent to deliberately do a bad unbelievably horrible job, and potentially endangering thousands to millions of lives as cavalierly as juggling lit dynamite sticks in the control tower at LAX. 

If you guessed anything under 100% Pure Undiluted Fail, thanks for playing, and we have some lovely parting gifts for you.

Every possible commonsense best practice and meticulously-trained for, briefed-on, drilled-for, and paid for with tens hundreds of thousands millions of dollars of your taxes training on "Rules For Hazmat Incidents" procedure was omitted. We may as well just take the notebooks and throw them in the landfill, and tell everyone to run for the hills, or kiss their @$$es goodbye.

Because that's where the cream of the crop is, 10 years after 9/11.

And if they ever tell me we're getting such an incident, I'm probably clocking out and leaving on the spot, unless I see the fresh transplant scars from healthy brain donors on about 50 heads of Those In Charge of the monkeyhouse.

And these are good, professional folks at all levels, who deliver excellent care in a literal megalopolis, not the staff of Barely Adequate Hospital and Fairly Normal Emergency Services in Outer Podunkville.

Sleep tight, America.

1 comment:

  1. Good Gawd, dude! I have next-to-no first responder training and even I know to approach from firggin' upwind. And my former county Emergency Management Office had a donated pc to estimate the airbourne plume using NWS we-hope-current data. Of course, we had a nuke plant next door.

    BTW, the ED across the street has a separate entrance for contaminated pts. You gotta know the combination to get it open, though. I have zero confidence responders will know/recall it...