Accidental: Contamination or destruction. Spills, leaks, and other unintended releases, mechanical and structural failures, collisions and other explosive combinations, random and persistent expressions of entropy.
Intentional: Absence, alienation, anger, dismissal, exclusion, fear, mistrust, neglect, prejudice, abuse, suspicion, dehumanization, displacement, hostage-taking, militancy, murder, mass-murder, terrorism, torture, tribalism, war, xenophobia… much more.
When does intention or lack thereof cause/amplify natural or accidental hazards?
Strategy (strategies?): Prevention, preparation, mitigation, resilience, response, recovery… enough?
On July 25 Wilma Sturgeon, age 97, died. Mrs. Sturgeon served as the Fulton County (Illinois) Public Health Nurse from 1946 to 1980. For most of this period she was the entire county health department. Three personal memories:
- She worked with nurses and physicians to organize Sunday after-church whole community polio vaccination drives. Health care workers associated with every church in town shepherded whole congregations to schools or American Legion Halls or other central locations for mass inoculation. She did the same thing at several coal mines and at the International Harvester plant. Sophisticated social physics.
- Each August she instructed football coaches at every school in the county on the fundamentals of avoiding and treating heat exhaustion. Prevention, preparedness, mitigation, resilience, response, and (in every case I heard about) recovery… including my own heat stroke.
- She worked with teachers, pastors, and others to temporarily relocate children with evidence of physical abuse — and discreetly work with families to alter behavior and facilitate reunification — without the involvement of law enforcement (other than in a few repeat cases). She was not deterred from seeking the best out of the worst.
It was a different time and a particular place, but I perceive our times and many of our places (see above) could benefit from Mrs. Sturgeon’s sort of very practical and persistent care… multiplied.