Archive for July 29, 2009

If the Military is Planning on a Bad H1N1 Wave This Fall, Shouldn’t You?

From CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The U.S. military wants to establish regional teams of military personnel to assist civilian authorities in the event of a significant outbreak of the H1N1 virus this fall, according to Defense Department officials.

The proposal is awaiting final approval from Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The officials would not be identified because the proposal from U.S. Northern Command’s Gen. Victor Renuart has not been approved by the secretary.

The plan calls for military task forces to work in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There is no final decision on how the military effort would be manned, but one source said it would likely include personnel from all branches of the military.

As a former military member, I know that the military compulsively plans constantly to protect against threats to the country. That is what they do because they know they can be called up at any time for anything so they damn well better be prepared, because deploying thousands of people for any reason requires a plan of action.

As a person who lives in a hurricane-prone area, I am constantly amazed by the number of people who have no plan whatsoever. A storm starts brewing in the Atlantic or Caribbean or Gulf, and there are people that start putting up hurricane shutters, checking their food supplies, and stocking up. A lot of people do *nothing*.

The tropical storm turns into a hurricane, and a watch is issued. More people start to prepare. Tourists are evacuated. Nursing homes and disabled people in the areas that may be affected are moved to shelters. People in low-lying/storm surge prone areas are urged to evacuate. Many do. A lot don’t.

When the hurricane warning is issued, supplies are mostly stripped from area stores. Service stations are empty. Indeed, most places are already closed. Highways are clogged. There are a lot of panicked people that didn’t prepare earlier looking for supplies that aren’t there. Some people go surfing in the awesome waves.

If the hurricane hits, the non-prepared people call the emergency responders requesting assistance but none can be provided until after the storm is over. Some have to leave their houses because they are breaking apart due to wind or tidal surge. Some of those people make it to another shelter. Some of them don’t, and their bodies are found when the waters recede if they don’t drift out to sea or are buried beneath silt and debris.

We’re in the flu watch category right now. It could be that when school starts, nobody becomes ill because the students were all exposed last school year, at summer camps, or at day care, and all the preparation will be for nothing. Then the unprepared can point and laugh at the people that prepared for the worst just in case as complete idiots.

The CDC and WHO have warned us several times that the fall wave of the flu could be massive. Nobody knows yet. The flu has been simmering away in the US during the non-flu season, quietly killing people who now have access to the best health care available.

If the flu roars back in the fall, people may not have access to the best health care available because the medical people may be sick, the hospitals in hard-hit areas may be overwhelmed, there may not be enough ventilators to accommodate all those who are gravely ill, and the flu may mutate to become resistant to antiviral medications. The only way to slow the rate of infection will be through the use of quarantines.

Y’all might want to make sure you have extra jars of peanut butter and jelly just in case. I checked my pantry. I’ve got 12 lbs. of peanut butter but only 3 lbs. of SwampMan’s favorite jelly. I need to go shopping.

With 75 lbs. of flour in the freezer and 2 lbs. of yeast in the pantry, I don’t think I’ll need to worry about having enough bread (grin) unless I become sick, but I had the swine flu shot back in ’76 as did @ 40 million others. Those of us that survived the shot may still have some immunity. I hope.

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