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US MEDICAL STOCKPILES AND A FLOOD IN VENEZUELA

October 7-13, 2022 | Issue 23 - Emergency Management, Health, and Hazards (EMH2)

Jennifer Radlinsky, Breyona Woods, EMH2 Team

Justin Maurina, Editor; Hannah Norton, Senior Editor



Boxes of simulated medicine sit at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C[1]


Date: October 7, 2022

Location: United States

Parties involved: US government, US citizens; agricultural industry; healthcare industry

The event: The US government purchased $290 million worth of Nplate, a medication used to treat patients after radiological incidents, to maintain its national reserves. The US buys and maintains stockpiles of medications and supplies to use as part of national preparedness planning. Russia’s recent nuclear threats have raised concerns and a renewed focus on preparing for widespread illnesses related to the use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weaponry.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • A radiological or nuclear attack will almost certainly impact public health by requiring acute care for a large number of people. Medicinal needs will likely deplete US reserve supplies, likely causing patients to receive delayed care, likely causing long-term diseases such as cancer and chronic kidney disease. Asymptomatic patients exposed to radiation or nuclear fallout will likely delay care, likely increasing future health complication risks.

  • A radiological or nuclear attack will likely disrupt the agricultural, poultry, and livestock industries in planting, harvesting, processing, and shipping foods. Contaminated farms will likely be costly to repair and render much of the soil unable to produce edible products. People will likely be hesitant to purchase goods produced on irradiated land, likely decreasing the number of products ready for distribution into the supply chain. Food will likely be unable to move from farms and production plants via trucking and road transport due to damage to distribution hubs, likely leading to product shortages.


Date: October 9, 2022

Location: Las Tejerias, Venezuela

Parties involved: Venezuela government; Venezuelan citizens; road paramedics from the Transportation Ministry (Road Angels); healthcare; public works employees

The event: Heavy rain in Venezuela triggered flooding that killed at least 25 and left at least 50 people missing. The floods destroyed businesses, farms, and homes. Landslides complicated rescue efforts with mud covering roads and limiting access to victims. Electrical and water infrastructure was damaged, leading to power outages and no clean water access.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Humanitarian assistance such as shelters will very likely be needed to rescue displaced residents who lost their homes in impacted areas. Increased resources from NGOs for citizens, like basic toiletries, will likely be needed to assist homeless victims. Disaster responders, like the Road Angels, will likely need to check in on those needing assistance. With electric and power lines disabled by the flood, contacting emergency personnel will likely be difficult for citizens in need. Emergency services will likely be challenged by destroyed communication services, likely delaying rescues and very likely increasing the death toll.

  • Destruction of electrical and plumbing systems will likely cause power outages and a lack of clean water. Loss of electricity will likely temporarily close businesses where residents buy necessities, likely causing resource shortages. Damage to water and sewage systems will likely increase the risk of waterborne diseases and unsanitary conditions, likely pressuring the hospital systems with an influx of patients and no electricity or water to assist treatment. Residents will likely seek shelter and food assistance from the government while likely staying in overcrowded shelters, very likely risking rapid transmission of infectious diseases.

 

The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)


[1]Boxes of simulated medicine sit at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C” by S.C Air National Guard licensed under Public Domain

[2] U.S. buys radiation sickness drug as part of long-standing program, Reuters, October 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-buys-radiation-sickness-drug-part-long-standing-program-2022-10-07/

[3] Venezuelan rescuers search for 52 missing after deadly floods, Reuters, October 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/venezuelan-rescuers-search-52-missing-after-deadly-floods-2022-10-10/

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