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FEMA Administrator Asks State and Local Emergency Managers for Help!

Don't wait until you "see the whites of their eyes" in this coronavirus battle.

by Eric Holdeman / March 29, 2020

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator, Pete Gaynor, took the very unusual step of sending a letter on Friday to every emergency manager in the nation. See FEMA Administrator March 27, 2020, letter to Emergency Managers Requesting Action on Critical Steps.

Here's my analysis for what he is saying:

Well — to start with, never been done before! These are unprecedented times.

It appears he is rallying the troops to the fight. Everyone needs to help, not impacted yet?  Can you find a way to contribute. Normally called mutual aid. There is a system for state-to-state assistance that is paid for by the requesting state, Emergency Management Assistance Compact

I think that FEMA has already been burned by two different routing requests for supplies and equipment coming from the same state/jurisdiction. One coming from Health and one coming from Emergency Management. Here in WA State they put out an edict a few days ago — one consolidated request coming from the emergency management office/EOC. You can't have good situational awareness of needs if there are multiple channels asking for supplies for the same set of organizations/jurisdictions. 

The status of hospitals looks like it is fuzzy and thus it will be harder for FEMA to prioritize who gets what, unless they have a good count of beds, acute beds (ICU) and what surge capacity there is. Same is for ventilators. See situational awareness comment above. 

He is telling them to plan for alternative care sites. Maybe trying to jump start places that have done little, or with no coordination with health authorities.  Your turn may be coming — use the time available now to become ready. It is called "contingency planning."

Don’t wait to look for help for when you are overcome with requests. Line up people to come help when that help will be needed — basically on both of the above — plan ahead NOW!  Do you have a Medical Reserve Corps? Recruit for it now. See my earlier blog post, We Need More People to Serve in the Medical Reserve Corps — Now!

There isn’t going to be enough PPE to go around so conserve! Two things on this. The message in wartime would be, "Conserve your ammo." I read where one hospital thought ahead when they saw the pandemic coming and stored a six month supply. They burned through it in seven days. Make what you have work.  

Another thought on PPE. Items from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) are being sent to the states. States must be in the logistics business and ensure the distribution that they receive is broken down and quickly distributed to local jurisdictions, which must then do the same for their hospitals and other organizations getting supplies and equipment. See this Under Intense Criticism, Trump Says Government Will Buy More Ventilators A picture in the article reminded me of something. There are pallets of ventilators being unloaded. Hmm, "some assembly required!" Put together teams, the national guard would be good for this, to go to hospitals that are taking deliveries to put the machines together for them. They are busy taking care of patients. 

Basically he is trying to get everyone’s attention who is not in the fight of their lives now, to get ready — don’t be complacent. Be willing to help other states, etc.

Your turn may be coming — now is the time to act!

As for the "Whites of their eyes" this comes from, "Don't react to a situation too early. This saying comes from an order allegedly given by American officer William Prescott at the Battle of Bunker Hill in the American Revolutionary War." Today we do need you to react — and now!

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