A Shot at Being a Hero

By on January 1, 2009
RoadKing Mag

When disaster strikes, the effects from the aftermath can be just as devastating — if not more so — as the initial event itself. Just think of the thousands of people who needed help for weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit a few years ago.

A new study in the most recent edition of the journal Biosecurity and Bioterrorism reports that truckers and utility workers would be crucial in the aftermath of a flu pandemic and simply cannot be overlooked for top priority treatment.

“It takes a lot of people to keep society going,” Nancy E. Kass told The Toronto Star. Kass is a professor at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and lead author of the study.

The study provides ethics guidelines for pandemic planning, response and resource allocation and considers truckers crucial in the aftermath if a pandemic were to strike the country.

“There could be widespread social chaos, significant outbreaks of other infectious diseases and severe anxiety, with the possibility of social degeneration, looting, or even violence as people try to secure needed supplies,” the study says.

Healthcare workers have traditionally been given top priority, but they will not be able to do their job if their access to clean water, electricity and other basics of the societal infrastructure are unavailable to them. In fact, up to 40 percent of the workers whose job it is to keep these services in operation could be laid up and out of work after a pandemic.

The researchers on the study point out that truckers will be urgently needed to replenish supplies, including groceries, gas, water and medicine and should be bumped to the top of the list for treatment. “To expect these other individuals to come to work because their jobs are crucial to maintain ‘essential functions’ not only requires psychological preparation, it also requires special commitments to them and, arguably, to their families,” the study says.

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