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Homeland Security: The Sworn Duty of Public Officials

Homeland Security: The Sworn Duty of Public Officials     The United States has a unique position amongst the countries of the world;...

Monday, November 23, 2015

Public Safety Health Experts

Public Safety Health Experts
What should be the role of public safety health experts in the emergency plan? Support your response with appropriate reasoning.
Public health experts play a variety of responses in critical incident planning. “In today’s world, emergencies and disasters take many forms, including natural disasters, technological and infrastructure failures, terrorist attacks, and health emergencies such as pandemic disease outbreaks” (Lee et al., 2007, p. 6). Public health experts take part in planning responses, responding to emergencies in their area of expertise, maintaining refugee relief and settlement, and evaluating damages and immediate responses to disasters. Public health experts may not necessarily take charge of the emergency response, but they play a part. For example, in an agroterrorism attack, “Many believe that public health officials would lead the response to an agroterrorism attack, but this might not be the case. The laws of most States require that such an event be handled as a crime scene investigation, giving law enforcement primary responsibility” (Gonzales, Schofield, & Schmitt, 2006, p. 1)
During what type of mass emergencies should public health experts be the principal experts?
Any mass emergency in which public health is affected. This is such as wide range of possibilities that they can not be listed shortly. Some examples include a tornado that displaces a community that then requires refugee aid, a flood that causes a community's sewer system to overflow into the water supply, a terror attack that leaves mass casualties, a bitterroot attack, a power outage that causes the potential for temperature related deaths, or agroterrorism. “In May 2006, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) held a regional planning meeting on preventing and responding to a bioterrorism attack on the Nation’s agriculture industry...Officials rated their State’s preparedness in preventing an agroterrorism attack and discussed ways to improve the response, should an attack occur. One of the most vital topics concerned coordination among law enforcement and veterinary and animal health authorities, within the State and across State borders” (Gonzales, Schofield, & Schmitt, 2006, p.2)
Explain why public health experts should be the lead experts in such types of mass emergencies.
Many emergencies require expert knowledge, not just in specific technological skills such as firefighting and medicine, but in attempting to understand the complex relations that our infrastructure sustains us. This is more apparent in crisis situations in which the normal supporting frameworks have been disrupted. Frickel and Vincent make the “basic argument [is] that society’s understandings of past, present, and future threats are dangerously compromised by expert systems that create and legitimate those understandings. Chief among those expert systems are scientific disciplines and regulatory agencies. In combination, these institutions reinforce a set of expectations and practices for producing knowledge that minimize the ecological and socio-historical contexts in which that knowledge is created and deployed. The result, in effect, is organized ignorance — a system of knowledge production that articulates risk in ways that do not, and perhaps cannot, answer some of our most basic questions concerning safety, health, and sustainability” ( 2007, p.182).

Frickel, S., & Vincent, M. B. (2007). Hurricane Katrina, contamination, and the unintended organization of ignorance. Technology in Society, 29(2), 181–188. doi:10.1016/j.techsoc.2007.01.007

Gonzales, A. R., Schofield, R. B., & Schmitt, G. R. (2006). Agroterrorism—Why we’re not ready: A look at the role of law enforcement. U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs
Retrieved October 2, 2014 http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/publichealthresources/96/

Lee, E., Logan, C., Mitchell, & J. T., Trella, J. (2007). A governor’s guide to homeland security. Washington, D.C.: National Governors’ Association, Center for Best Practices. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from http://www.nga.org/Files/pdf/0703GOVGUIDEHS.PDF

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