Triage in the Emergency Planning Department

Many of us have been in the emergency room of a hospital with parents, kids or for ourselves.  We appreciate fast action and competence.  What wouldn’t be helpful is a discussion with the nurse about where that person went to school, the professional designation (BN, RN, BScN), where the nurse parks, what committee’s s/he’s on and so on.  We just want fast and good nursing, triage, diagnosis, referral and treatment.

Why then do our city emergency plans go into dozens of pages of irrelevant detail at the expense of plain advice for citizens who want to be a little safer and better prepared?  Do they hope no one really Googles their city emergency plan in order to find out how to plan for an emergency?

Many American cities list all the grants they can apply for.  But that’s a grant the city can apply for, not one the citizens can access.  Many have pages of demographic data and tourist information.  That’s good for responders to know, but I’m no safer knowing the average income in my neighbourhood, education attained by my neighbors and languages spoken at home.  Philadelphia lists all the planning committee meetings held.  Is a lot good or bad?  Are the names attendees who may be long gone relevant?  Pittsburgh, like many other cities, features a signed resolution of council from 9 years ago.  That’s so long ago, the signatories may have left office or be dead.   Most plans feature reference to the legislation under which the plan was written, pages of duties and responsibilities, but no real indication that the lists of tasks will actually get done.  If your city is in a crisis, you dial 911 or 311 or shout “Help!”  There won’t be any appetite to read lists of city employees to pick just the right one to call.

This is like the nurse telling us how the might deal with our health emergency, what all her other duties are, how she fits in to a potential crisis in the hospital, but not actually doing anything about the reason for your visit to the emergency room visit.

Do we really need to read Calgary’s pre-written emegency declaration?  Should we be on the lookout for a fake one?  What shall the citizens of Oklahoma City do with dozens of pages of meeting agendas, memos, power point presentations, inernal emails and survey questionnaires?  Are citizens supposed to role play what it might be like to be on the city payroll and read all this?  Do residents of Dallas sleep a little easier after looking at picturs of city staff?  Do we feel better after reading the list of Fort Worth, Texs projects which are awaiting federal and local funding?  Perhaps Forth Worth citizens are supposed to play a game predicting what will become a crisis while funding awaits.  Do we need to read Richmond, BCs multi page by laws?  For those who don’t work at city hall, what’s the point of reading countless pages of vunlerable and other facilities in San Jose’s plan?  When there’s a collapse of a facilty shall citizens go to the list and verify that collapse was predicted?  Or what’s the point of reading San Francisco’s strategic goals and planned implementaiton?  Either they should get on with these tasks or not.  These seem to be more a list of what won’t be addressed than what will.   Are we safer after turning over more than 3 dozen blank pages and missing maps in San Diego’s plan?

I can’t see how knowing the various roles and responsibilities in Fresno’s plan will help us either.

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