Thursday, July 31, 2008

You say potato, I say potahtoe...

The Guest Blogger strikes again...

I was reviewing some Emergency Preparedness plans and made a note that material was misspelled as materiel. I know I find it difficult to remember when to use an “e” and when it’s an “a.”

The document writer let me know that materiel is the correct spelling, in the Strategic National Stockpile and technical Emergency Preparedness field. What? So I looked it up. Materiel means all the apparatus, equipment, parts and supplies (as distinguished from the personnel), required in an operation, organization, or undertaking The term is used to refer to a military force but can be applied to other organizations. On the other hand, one of the definitions for material, is the tools or apparatus for the performance of a given task. Both words derive from the same French word of matériel.

So it looks like materiel is a more precise term – emphasizing required equipment and excluding personnel.

And remember, people are material.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It is so hot in Colorado....

The Los Angeles Fire Department is really progressive in its use of "new media" such as a blog and Twitter.

Their public information officer posted some great tips about coping with hot weather.

The best ways to remain protected from the ill effects of heat are to dress appropriately, stay indoors, refrain from strenuous work or exercise during the hottest part of the day, and stay hydrated.

Plan in advance to wear loose, lightweight and light-colored clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible, and a well-ventilated hat with a wide brim. Stay in the shade whenever possible.

Your body needs plenty of water to keep cool. Water is usually the best liquid to drink during hot weather. Drinks with alcohol or caffeine can make the heat's effects on your body worse.

Symptoms of dehydration and heat illness may not be easily recognized, but often include fatigue, nausea, headache and vomiting. Drink before you become thirsty and rest before you become tired. If you feel ill, tell someone immediately.

Many heat emergencies occur to people who are exercising, working or staying alone. We suggest you use a buddy system, and also check on elderly, disabled or at-risk neighbors on a regular basis.

If your home does not have air conditioning, consider a cool place to visit or stay during the hottest part of the day. Schools, libraries, theaters, shopping malls and community facilities may provide an air-conditioned refuge.

Pets, horses, and livestock are also susceptible to hot weather. See that the special needs of your animals are met, including copious shade and plenty of cool water.

Finally, from all of us at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's Emergency Preparedness and Response Division, this is a good time to check your emergency water supply. Can you imagine not having drinking water in this heat!?

Stay cool.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Thoughts from a guest blogger on who gets treatment

I recently heard from two different people that “the Health Department doesn’t care about old people. We’re just going to let them die if there is a flu epidemic.”

I was surprised to hear this since I know the Emergency Preparedness and Response Division has identifed older adults as a special or vulnerable population. They want to ensure that we reach that population with information on how to prepare for a pandemic.

Looking a little further, I realize these comments came from the recent media stories about developing a list of who will and who won’t get lifesaving care when resources are limited. At the top if the list appears “people older than 85.” What also stands out are those with "severe mental impairment" (like Alzheimer’s disease), and those with severe chronic disease. So that does sound like older adults.

This brings up the question of what are the rules for “playing God.”

Did anyone else have to read in high school the short story The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson? That story has haunted me ever since 10th grade.

Through the miracle of the web, you can read the story at

I don’t want to give away the ending, but this group of citizens has their set of rules that works perfectly, as long as everyone agrees to the whole system.

Since I also work in Injury Prevention, this discussion got me thinking about how we can use this to motivate people to wear seatbelts.

What about this for a media message:
“Did you know that if a pandemic flu or other public health
emergency hits, the hospitals may decide not to treat patients with severe trauma? This could mean you, if you don’t wear your seatbelt. So buckle up!”


Likewise, we all need to stay as healthy as possible so we won’t be one of those with a severe chronic disease who is passed over in the hospital.

I know it’s better to be thinking about these things now, but I don’t envy those folks who are actually working on this task force.

What do you think?