Influenza Pandemic Preparation and Response: A Citizen's Guide
One way to preserve your mental health is to avoid over-identifying with victims. Do not take on the victim's feelings as your own.
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Taking ownership of others' problems will compound your stress and affect the overall effectiveness of your role. Be conscious of these dangers and remain alert to signs of trauma in yourself and others.
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Respect cultural differences, as they will arise when it comes to death and bereavement and also in caring for the ill.
Recognizing symptoms of distress14
- Anxiety, worry, guilt, or nervousness
- Increased anger and frustration
- Moodiness and/or depression
- Change in appetite
- Racing thoughts
- Problems concentrating/forgetfulness
- Disorganization or confusion
- A sense of being overwhelmed
- Suicidal thoughts
- Fear of getting close to people
- Tension headaches
- Gritting or grinding of teeth
- Jaw pain
- Stuttering or stammering
- Trembling of lips or hands
- Muscle tenseness, bracing, and aches
- Neck aches
- Back pain
- Aggressive body language
Volunteering during a pandemic
During a disaster, many local agencies respond and render aid to members of the community.
The Fire Department will take a lead role in the local response. You may already be a volunteer working with one of these agencies; for example, the fire or police Corps, CERT, or the Red Cross.
You may also know how to operate a Ham radio or have skills in managing a shelter.
You will need to decide for yourself whether you wish to offer your services to this or another agency, or whether you wish to remain at home and focus on your family and/or your neighborhood.
Any one of these actions is the right course, as long as it's right for you. There's no need to feel pressured to volunteer outside the home or neighborhood if you do not wish to do so.
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When disasters occur, established volunteer agencies are often not prepared or able to handle the influx of volunteers that wish to help. While this may not be as much of an issue with a pandemic, it is still good to remember.
Checklist for Communications and Volunteerism
q Obtain a battery operated or hand-crank radio that has AM, FM, broadcast television, and short-wave frequency capability.
q Practice talking with family members about what it might be like to be in a pandemic where your normal day to day communications, such as the phone and television could be gone.
q Consider getting a basic amateur radio (Ham) license and buy a basic handheld VHF transceiver. You must have a license from the FCC in order to use this type of transceiver.
q Recognize psychological and physiological symptoms of depression and anxiety. q Learn about ways to volunteer during a disaster and evaluate your own interest in, and capacity for, doing so.
Recovery and Waves
??Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success.??
— Henry Ford
In this chapter you will learn
- That pandemics can come in multiple waves
- About the role of the coroner during a pandemic
After reading this chapter, you will be able to
- Use the checklists as guides in your preparations
The Recovery Stage
The recovery stage will encompass some of the more unpleasant aspects of disaster, such as the handling of dead bodies, taking stock of who remains, restructuring any volunteer systems that were built, and recognizing that it may not truly be over.
Waves of a pandemic
In a pandemic, there can be multiple waves. Once people think the illness rates are subsiding, they are more comfortable attending social functions and do not pay as much attention to social distancing and proper isolation and infection control techniques, like hand-washing and cough etiquette.
This can lead to ongoing or new waves of influenza spread throughout the community. For this reason, it is important not to become too complacent once the threat appears to be gone.
Continue to monitor disease activity in your neighborhood through local health department reports (try Googling "who is sick"). Rely on the infection control techniques described in chapter 2, while continuing to monitor information on the pandemic locally, regionally, and nationally.
- If you have been sick with the circulating pandemic strain of influenza and recovered, you are now a survivor - immune to the circulating strain.
- As a survivor you can treat the sick without worry of becoming ill again, as long as the virus has not significantly evolved into a new strain.
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It is important to note, however, if you did not become sick in a previous wave you may still be susceptible during subsequent waves.
- State and local jurisdictional public health departments should be able to determine the nature of the strains circulating locally and regionally through their laboratory surveillance activities.
Regardless, it is always best to use basic infection control precautions.
Take an Inventory
Now is a time when businesses may be beginning to open, and suppliers may be delivering goods and services again.
Radio Free InternetEver listen to a DJ on the radio and think, Hey, I can do that? For most of us, unsels we were fortunate enough to be communication majors, went to a college with a campus station, or are willing to work the graveyard shift at the local NPR affiliate, we'll never get the chance to find out.Except for the internet.No doubt, if you're internet savvy enough to be reading this, you've heard of recording a show (music, talk, whatever) and posting it on the internet for people to download at their leisure. Podcasts are great and they are a great way to get yourself out there, but what if you prefer live audience interaction, response, and the sheer terror of sitting in front of the mic having completely forgotten what you were about to say? Enter the .The ingredientsSo you've decided you're interesting enough that (hopefully) a couple people will drop whatever they had planned on doing and listen to you instead. Good! Having the confidence to decide to do a live SHOUTcast is the biggest hurdle to overcome. Everything else beyond that is just a technical exercise.Here's the basic stuff you need to do your own show:Author's note: This is by no means intended to be a definitive, step by step guide on how to set up for SHOUTcasting I have no idea what hardware and software you have, so there is no way I can cover everything.A computer (specs are rather unimportant, but a machine running Windows XP or higher is your best bet Mac support for SHOUTcast is spotty and I personally can't speak for it, so we'll discuss Windows).A high-speed internet connection. You can't do this on dialup.A microphone. This doesn't have to be a fancy, $200+ studio mic, especially if you're just starting out. A cheap computer mic is fine. Make sure it plugs into the mic-in line of your soundcard and not USB. USB is a pain for this.Headphones. If you plan to listen to your mic output live, you'll end up with godawful feedback otherwise. and the . Both are free. This is the program you will be broadcasting from.A SHOUTcast host. This is the remote server you send your show's stream to, which in turn rebroadcasts it with a much higher bandwidth (more bandwidth = more simultaneous listeners can be supported) than your home internet connection is capable of. Some are free, some charge a small monthly fee, usually based on max number of listeners and bitrate. Speaking from experience: You get what you pay for. A free host can be a good way to see if you like doing this, however. If you're curious, I use , but do look around my needs may not be the same as yours.A nice, quiet spot to do this. Is your computer in the living room? Turn the TV off (or at least mute it). Got kids? Keep em out of the room for a while. Interruptions and noise are not only distracting to you, they're annoying to your listeners as well.A listener base and a way to let them know when and how to tune in. Post about it on your Facebook wall with a link to the stream. Use Twitter. Email. Whatever. I actually have a , and I still use all of the above outlets to advertise. Don't underestimate the how to tune in portion. Some of your friends may not be tech savvy, and if it's hard for them to figure out what's going on, they'll just go watch TV.The recipeThis is the hard part. Apart from telling you to plug everything in and install all your software and plug-ins, I can't really offer you too much specific advice. There's a lot of different soundcards, mixing software, and SHOUTcast hosts out there, and they all use different settings. I can offer some basic tips.If you plan on using a microphone, select Soundcard Input as your source in Winamp. This means any sound played through your soundcard will go out over your broadcast, so make sure to disable all those annoying alert sounds in Windows and don't watch YouTube videos while your music plays, unsels you want everyone to hear them.Make sure you have everything tested, working, and up and running long before you plan to do your first show. Don't wait till five minutes beforehand to figure out what IP address you should be streaming to. Have a friend available to listen and offer feedback as you set things like mic levels, sound levels, etc.For a much more definitive guide, see the on the Winamp Wiki and also the . Again, there are people who can help you here, but you may have to do some critical thinking on your own to make it all work. I've been SHOUTcasting for over four years now and I still make minute adjustments and improvements to my settings and equipment on a monthly basis. You never stop learning.A bit of non-tech adviceGetting the technical hurdles down may be the easiest part of hosting an internet radio show. Very few people have any idea how hard it is to be live, on a microphone, with people listening, and not sound like a stammering idiot. Here are a couple ideas to consider before going live:Think about what you're going to say before you go on. This doesn't mean you have to have a script or even notes, just an idea of what you're going to talk about so you don't freeze like a deer in headlights when you're up.Don't feel like you have to fill every instant of dead air with noise. Don't uhhh and errr your way through if you don't know what to say next. A second or two of dead air never bothered anyone, and if it does, it certainly bothers them less than hearing uhhh every third word.Modulate your voice. Use a conversational tone. For the love of all that is holy, don't speak in a monotone voice with no inflection like a robot. Your listeners will last about 45 seconds, then move on to something more interesting, like The Weather Channel.Final thoughtsWhatever your setup, whoever your host is, whatever the content of your show is: have fun. Your listeners can tell when you're phoning it in, and then it's no fun for them either. If you aren't having fun and you aren't getting paid why are you doing it? So just relax, appreciate the experience and don't worry if you screw up. (Some of my gaffes have been the funniest things I've ever said on the air, and the most memorable.) Enjoy yourself.
Take stock of your current situation and restock anything that may be needed. Now that you've survived the first wave, you'll know about items you wished you had put in your original kits, such as books, more toys and activities for the kids, and maybe some luxury items like chocolate or waterless shampoo.
While you may add comfort items to your kit, always remember the basics food, water, clothing, and medical supplies.
- Recruit willing survivors to fill leadership roles.
Survivors have always played important roles in emergency response, and a pandemic is no exception. Because they have developed a natural immunity to the virus, a survivor's role in caring for the ill cannot be overstated.
- Modify volunteer command structure as needed.
Throughout the pandemic, roles for volunteers will change as the needs of the community change.
* Continue assisting community partners such as the local health department, community groups, or fire department.
You can play an important role as a volunteer within existing structures as well as within your neighborhood watch groups.