Pro publica, Katrina and other lessons learnt

Pro publica is an online investigative news organization that influences some initiatives over here, but that are by no way already uncovering things that would take the time and effort that their journalists are investing in their stories. It is for this reason that they have won the Pulitzer prize for their article about the high number of deaths in a hospital and the possibility that the doctors played for god and killed those of which they thought that they couldn't evacuate them in the present situation.

It is a very good article and it shows that there are a high number of sources and investigations that were used.

Some thoughts

* the batteries of the Hospital went out after about 48 hours but it seems throughout the article that nobody had made a reverse clock and did anything to make it clear to the outside world that they had only 48 hours of power (and a hospital without power - how do you get to the PC or server if all the medical information is electronic ? )

When the batteries went down, it was as if it was totally unexpected, while it should have been the most planned aspect of the whole operation. When the airco also stopped, it was as if nothing could be done.

* there was nothing in the emergency procedures to describe how one should select the priorities of evacuation and there seems also not to be a good description of who takes the lead in whatever situation in the absence of whoever which led to meetings and decisions where not everybody was involved. 

This doesn't mean that one should agree with the position of some doctors who ask that they can't be prosecuted under any circumstance for the actions and decisions they are taking during an emergency or catastrophe.

* It is also strange to read how much time it took for the official organisations and the commercial headquarters of a private section of the hospital to organise the evacuation of a hospital. The public disorder and the militarisation of the law and order operation were also compounding the chaos.

Maybe there is a lot to be learnt from this disaster because everything was in a big book of more than 200 pages and people were trained to follow the book but the book didn't foresee this. Maybe disaster training has less to follow books and be more focused on problemsolving skills.

easy to say, although


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