Entries in emergencies (2)


Most States Underprepared for Public Health Emergencies

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There are persistent gaps in the nation’s ability to respond to public health emergencies, according to a new study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health, despite a series of recent tragic events like 9/11, anthrax threats and Hurricane Katrina.

One of the most notable findings is that 20 U.S. states do not currently mandate written evacuation plans for all licensed child care facilities, should the need arise.

“Most school systems have plans in place, but we also need to recognize that child care facilities need plans as well,” said Dr. Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America’s Health.

Planning to care for the 67 million children in American schools and childcare settings presents complex considerations and challenges, the study authors wrote.  And while 42 states require all K-12 schools to have a disaster plan in place for emergency events including gun violence, only 23 states mandate these plans for facilities caring for infants, toddlers, or special needs children.

“That’s surprising,” says Lynsey Barkoff, a public school nurse working in New York City.  “All levels of education, including preschool, should have emergency plans in place.”

The report scored states on a scale of one to 10, with one point assigned for each public health marker the state achieved.  These markers included level of public health funding, community response time to public health incidents, percent of vaccination goals met, and climate change adaptation plans.

The states with the highest scores -- eight out of 10 points -- were Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin.

“This is only a snapshot of preparedness,” said Levi.  “But [these states have] made a long term commitment to protecting public health through their leadership.”

Ranking lowest in public health emergency preparedness were Kansas and Montana, with only three out of 10 points.

These rankings are in large part due to lasting effects of the economic crisis.  From the 2010-2011 to 2011-2012 fiscal year alone, 29 states cut public health funding.  This was the second year in a row of budget cuts for 23 of these states and the third year in a row for 14 states.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fire Department App Rallies CPR-Trained Citizens in Emergencies

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(SAN RAMON, Calif.) -- A new iPhone application is making it easier than ever for CPR-trained Good Samaritans to save lives.

Launched by California's San Ramon Fire Protection District, the fire department app alerts CPR-savvy citizens to cardiac emergencies in their areas, with the hope that they'll be able to help out until emergency professionals arrive.

The app was launched in January, but got a big boost this week when San Francisco signed on as the first major city to back the technology.

"What's so important about sudden cardiac arrest is brain death occurs between four and six minutes after your heart stops. Even your best emergency services can take up to five minutes to get to the site of the patient," said Kimberly French, an information officer with the San Ramon Fire Protection District. "It's so important to bridge that gap, because what it does is it stops the clock."

Linking CPR-certified citizens to a local 911 dispatch center helps buy time until professionals can help victims of cardiac arrest, she said.

San Ramon fire officials hatched the idea after a 2009 incident in which the district's fire chief Richard Price (whom locals call "Fire Chief 2.0") was at a deli when, unbenknownst to him, a cardiac emergency was reported next door, French said.

The victim survived, she said, but the incident spurred Price and his peers to figure out how to match people with CPR training to those who need it, in real-time.

When users download the application, they're asked if they're trained in CPR. If they indicate that they are, the app quietly monitors their locations. When 911 dispatchers learn of a cardiac arrest, they can send a text-like push notification to all CPR-trained users of the application who are nearby. The message includes the location of the victim as well as the precise location of the closest public access Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

Since its launch in January, Fire Department has been downloaded more than 30,000 times, French said. But so far only the San Ramon Fire Protection District is using the site.

"The ultimate goal is to make it available for all emergency services to use," French said. "It's too good for us to keep in our little jurisdiction out here in California."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio