I have been watching with some amazement how New York City is dealing – or not- with the blizzard of 2010. Where I live we had about seven inches of snow. It was all clear by the end of Monday. The roads were back to normal by Tuesday morning. Of course, the population of my town is but a fraction of New York’s.
The problems the city has behaving, however, seem to be more related to poor planning and communication rather than the size of the city or the storm. In 1969 I was in high school in New York and we had a snowstorm that closed schools for a week. Because it took at least that long to clean up Queens, Mayor John Lindsay’s popularity plummeted. The next year he was defeated in the Republican primary and ran on the Liberal Party line instead.
Mayor Bloomberg has already overstayed his welcome, gaining a third term through questionable means. His failure to manage the snowstorm may mean the end of any presidential ambitions he might have.
In my capacity as a nurse, I belong to the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). As part of our training we practice and re-practice immunization drills. As a result, last year, when we had to have multiple flu clinks to give flu shots, all went perfectly because we had trained so much.
When the governmental response to a crisis is poor as in the case of Hurricane Katrina and the blizzard of 2010 it indicates lack of planning and training. New York City has emergency plans; they just did not use them. This means that some people in charge failed to understand the gravity of the storm. This is another problem with emergency responses. Humans are in charge so the possibility of an error in judgment always exists.
I am a member of my town’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). I attended a meeting tonight and apparently, the total focus for the next few months will be H1N1 and the potential pandemic.
I have been involved in many volunteer activities and they all have similar problems. Most organizations never have enough people and the same small group of people does most of the work. People do not like to go to meetings and thus do not want to be on committees. Of course if you never meet and there is not a committee, how does the work get done?
The potential pandemic of H1N1 flu will require many volunteers. Because this will be a specific, time-limited crisis, the people who show up to help will get just-in-time training before they begin work. For ongoing projects of an institution or organization, this approach does not provide enough support.
I am a member of my local Medical Reserve Corps. We are trained to provide medical and other assistance in emergencies. This winter a terrible ice storm left neighboring towns without power or water for several days. For the Amherst MRC, this reinforced our understanding that helping people be better prepared for emergencies is a top priority.
Tuesday night, at our monthly meeting, we decided to make 72 hour kits our project for the year. A 72 hour kit contains enough supplies and every day items for a forced three day stay at home. An article in today’s New York Timesindicates that emergency preparedness is part of the Ready Campaign of Homeland Security for 2009. The article has links to sites which provide additional information about what a 72 hour kit should contain. For more information about MRC’s and to find one in your area, medicalreservecorps.gov