Unprepared is a cautionary fictional tale from Jim Rush, a long-term emergency planner for healthcare organizations. Jim and his co-author, D.A. Ramsey, have written an account of how several simultaneous incidents devastated a few American cities and overwhelm local, regional, and national capacities to provide healthcare, other community services, and governance.
Jim drew on his work experience in the US Air Force, US Surgeon General’s Office, HRSA, CDC, and private sector to highlight the poor planning that is currently in place to rapidly mass evacuate sick and injured patients from disaster scenes. Jim and I discussed the minimal progress that has taken place since Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Ike.
In our interview Jim discusses his hope that the book, by exploring the ongoing impacts of national tragedy, inspires planners and policy makers to create serious plans. He told me, “I have a major concern that the health system is not learning lessons to evacuate patients and save as many lives as possible during a major disaster.”
We also discussed that a short fall of many training exercises is a focus on quick and tidy happy endings. In reality, incidents usually draw out for weeks, months, and even years. According to Jim the “difference between a disaster and a catastrophe is often the capacity of emergency managers to request help with patient evacuation and dispersal.”
Unprepared is meant to be a provocative book that will get people thinking. Do you think a fiction cautionary tale can stimulate planning? Have other fictional media, like the movie “The Day After”, impacted you as an emergency responder to take action?