Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 13, 2015


Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on August 13, 2015

Natural:  Drought, wildfires, flooding, possible hurricanes, eventual earthquakes, tsunami, sea rise, climate change, epidemics and pandemics… what else?

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.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

August 13, 2015 @ 6:15 am

Any good links on Public Health staffing and funding nationally since the ANTHRAX attacks of fall 2001?

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 13, 2015 @ 6:17 am

Did you know that the ARC [American Red Cross] does not do and does not consider itself a Public Health entity anymore despite federal charter language that allow that role?

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 13, 2015 @ 8:14 am

Briefly interviewed by a reporter. On the record as always!

Based on my comments to her believe MALTHUS correct in reasoning that expanding population would soon exhaust the ability of the EARTH to sustain that increased population.

But now we know that the poisoning of Earth’s sustainability resources the real skill of those dominating the industrial revolution since James Watt developed the steam engine.

But my question now is what is the impact on sustainability of the information age specifically a world ruled by bytes and bits?

Comment by Arnold Bogis

August 13, 2015 @ 4:09 pm


Here is the latest Trust for America’s Health report on public health: http://healthyamericans.org/report/118/

It doesn’t go back to the anthrax attacks, but I think it picks up when the federal funding stream was turned on around 2004 or 2005.

Can you point out the language regarding the Red Cross? It is an issue in local planning that the Red Cross will operate shelters but won’t be in charge of anything that meets the standard of “medical need” sheltering.

And public health nurses do wonderful work and contribute to their communities in so many ways, seen and unseen. It’s troubling to me that in many places, there isn’t a budget to support this work beyond a few hours a week.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 13, 2015 @ 6:25 pm

The ARC charter is I believe a Public Law from 1904.

And thanks for the link!

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