Exploring The Apocalypse: Disaster Types

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(I couldn’t find any good apocalypse photos, so I used this one I found in my scrapbook that captures my experience from high school. )

For those of you who have been following my blog, I have already shared some initial thoughts about Doomsday Preppers (who are waiting for when the SHTF).  Rather than wallow in depressive hopelessness, I want to explore the issues in an academic manner.  I think there are some things that aren’t being taken into consideration, like what we may actually face versus what we can prepare for.

The types of disasters, according to the U.S. Federal Government, include: biological, chemical, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, heat, hurricane, nuclear, tornado, tsunami, volcano, wildfires, and winter storm. Most of these appear to be natural disasters, so the scale isn’t necessarily global. Many of these are globally-specific threats, as well. Volcanos are dependent on proximity to tectonic plate borders. Hurricanes and tornadoes are heavily mitigated by mountainous areas, and more likely to roam in flatter topographical areas. Tsunamis are limited to coastal areas; just like flooding will be limited to those near rivers and streams. Flooding, just as wildfires and droughts are fairly cyclical – and occur naturally. Winter storms, as well as heat, are seasonal (and conditional) threats. This leaves us with chemical, biological, and nuclear.

Chemical threats would include mismanagement of the resources we already use. It isn’t necessarily something triggered by terrorists.  Taking illegally dumped chemicals out of the equation for the moment, we have countless chemical plants used in a variety of uses all around us.  We also have industrial chemicals in our environment already. For example, the natural gas industry pumps a liquid, deep into the ground to shatter rock which allows them to collect the gas.  This process called ‘fracking’ already poses a threat to our global environment. The BBC wrote an article to identify what fracking is and the controversies around it, including pumping carcinogenic compounds into our water tables. A USA Today article points out that a Duke University study shows increases radioactive materials in the water table, as a result of fracking. Let’s not forget to mention that there are many other nasty chemicals, according to this New York Times magazine article. My point is that the chemical threats are already here. It won’t necessarily be some external threat.  We have our own home-grown people who may have some ideations to initiate “end times” by sabotaging such places. There are also businesses that have used oils and hydraulic fluids, concentration of heavy metals, acids, and other caustic chemicals on premises. Those chemicals are also just an accident away from exposing us, too.

Nuclear threats are real, too. Again, it is already integrated into our society.  Bad guys don’t have to run to the store to pick-up radioactive material or have it shipped into the country. It is here already.  Yucca Mountain is one such place, but used radioactive material is stored in nearly every state in the United States – as seen here on this Federal Government website.  These are highly secured areas, but are just as subject to accidents – as well as any potential home-grown threats.  The Federal Government has many resources, including this page on potential nuclear fallout from our current nuclear reactors. While the dropping of nuclear bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in the 1940s provided a great deal of data about radiation fallout, sickness, and radii of contamination; there is still a hypothetical element to any potential future radioactive events – which include weather systems, topography, water table, as well as the amount and time that exposure occurs.  All of these factors will shape the intensity of radiation sickness one might experience, which is a public group. Radiation sickness is also documented on Federal Government websites, too. I have a feeling that if a wide-scale nuclear disaster were to occur; a Pinterest-inspired bug out bag and stockpile may not really change the  drastically horrible outcomes that would follow.

Biological threats would not be limited to man-made ones.  We are in the middle of many battles within a wide-range war with microorganisms, as we speak.  MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is one such potential threat. VRE (Vancomycin-resistant enterococci) is another. Yet another, newly emerging threat is CRE (Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae) explained on a governmental website.  These “superbugs” have developed a resistance to powerful medications, which means that they pose a threat – especially once they become pathogenic. In other words, once these “germs” cause illness – we are in serious trouble.  The same Darwinistic ability to adapt to their environment that humans have is shared with other organisms. Our environment poses a threat to a living organism. Some die. Some survive. Those that do, pass on their ability to survive that threat – or, at least provide some level of protection from that environmental condition. We have created a pattern of make a drug/see resistance appear to it as an on-going cycle. That has brought us to this point. However, I have seen a TED TALK from a molecular biologist named Bonnie Bassler that discusses “quorum sensing” which is how microorganisms chemically “talk” amongst themselves to function. I am not sure where this stands on the experimental process, as the talk was in 2009. It does sound promising.  The bottom line is that this threat is, again, a natural one.  Once again, natural recurrence of microorganistic threats are cyclical – as documented at this Federal Governmental website.  Even with the knowledge of standard precautions to prevent the spread of infection, things could get ugly very quickly – depending on the germ, exposure, and how it is managed.

I would also add that a power grid failure, or collapse of our network that provides power to everyone would be another cause for potentially apocalyptic conditions.  A few years ago, we all experienced large regional outages that cause quite a disruption of our lives.  There was a cascading effect where one site failed, which then led to other sections failing.  The talk was that our power grid is outdated and piecemealed together, and needed serious upgrades. Unfortunately, the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality has kept that issue out of the spotlight.  Have we taken our access to electricity for granted (not granite, people) that we are assuming that it won’t fail? Or that we can pick up the pieces fast enough when it crashes again?  If it were to fail, our whole infrastructure would follow in the collapse.  Our commerce, our businesses, our economy, our ability to communicate, our livelihood, our wealth……everything lost without access, once the power goes out.  Our data on our harddrives, documents, etc. Gone. I would think that our ability to travel would be lost, as well.  Power is needed to pump fuel from the ground, yes? People can’t get around. Goods can’t be moved. And, once again, a few days supply of water/food/stuff may not ultimately help. Somehow, the acronym “SHTF” will likely fall short of what we can expect from such an event. It could be a chain reaction that makes the apocalypse a long, drawn out event. We will be ultimately left to survive off the land, shaped by the catastrophic events that lay before us.

This is shaping my views of doomsday prepping to more of a “embrace the chaos” plan.  I can hope my family will be around each other when such an event occurs. For there, we would have to figure out what our assets and liabilities are.  Not a pleasant thing to consider, but seemingly more real.

Peace out.

 

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The Atlantic: We’re Running Out Of Nurses!

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America’s 3 million nurses make up the largest segment of the health-care workforce in the U.S., and nursing is currently one of the fastest-growing occupations in the country. Despite that growth, demand is outpacing supply. By 2022, The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects, there will be more than a million job openings for nurses, a considerable shortfall. “The magnitude of the 2025 deficit would still be more than twice as large as any nurse shortage experienced since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in the mid-1960s,” a team of Vanderbilt University nursing researchers wrote in a 2009 paper on the issue.

The Atlantic: We’re Running Out Of Nurses

Anti-vaccination argument is the new Intellectual Feudalism

Reading the comments on the anti-vaccination are eye-opening.  As in frightening enough to make one tachycardic…and diaphoretic. The thoughts are so backward; I am reminded of the Monty Python “I thought we were an autonomous collective” skit. Those against vaccinations remind me of the intellectual state held by the masses in the Middle Ages.

“There’s some lovely filth down here.”

Link #1: Facebook Anti-Vax Comments

https://www.facebook.com/Things-anti-vaxers-say-656716804343725/

 

 

 

 

 

Vesicants and Extravasation | Infusion Nurse Blog

Vesicant – an agent capable of causing blistering, tissue sloughing or necrosis when it escapes from the intended vascular pathway into surrounding tissue.

Extravasation – the inadvertent infiltration of vesicant solution or medication into surrounding tissue

While I have not worked with many IV meds that cause complications when they leak outside of veins, I have worked with a few – like Vanco – that can make infusion complicated.   I found this link interesting enough to share it.

Source: Vesicants and Extravasation | Infusion Nurse Blog

Research: Drinking Coffee Tied To Lower Risk of Death

Today is a good day.

(Reuters Health) – In a 10-year U.S. study, people who drank coffee regularly were less likely to die of many causes, including heart disease and diabetes, than those who didn’t drink coffee at all.

The more coffee study participants consumed, the lower their risk of dying, and decaf drinkers showed a similar pattern.

“Coffee contains numerous biologically active compounds, including phenolic acids, potassium, and caffeine,” said lead author Dr. Erikka Loftfield of the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland.

Many studies have found that coffee consumption is associated with lower risk of overall and heart-related mortality, Loftfield told Reuters Health by email.

Drinking Coffee Tied to Lower Risk of Death

Blog: Nurses That Vaccinate

Nurses That Vaccinate: An Open Letter To Jenny McCarthy

I found this blog post while surfing. I am sharing it because it is something that vaccinations are something that I support….and that I am annoyed how people let celebrities trump science.  There are many other television celebs that really need to step off screen and shut up.

One of my research papers in nursing school included this topic, specifically, on the topic of Thimerisol (a mercury compound that used to be used as a preservative in vaccinations).  This topic was made visible to the masses when Jenny McCarthy presented her son as being autistic as a side effect of receiving vaccinations with Thimerisol.  Her desire to champion a cause led her to becoming a mouthpiece to a group of people who do not support vaccinations (sometimes called “anti-vaxxers”)  One of the main sources against vaccinations was an English study done by a Dr. Andrew Wakefield.  His study was published, presented to the scientific community, and spent about 10 years in the public eye. However, the scientific community questioned the study. A subsequent investigation found that Dr. Wakefield had distorted the data and the study was discredited – even retracted by the British Medicine Journal that originally published the paper.  Unfortunately, many decided to continue to embrace the emotion to allow them to ignore the data to continue to vilify vaccinations.  As it turns out, Jenny McCarthy has also retracted her stance against vaccinations.

The Thimerisol issue, by the way, was created when the pharmaceutical industry came up with a solution to preserving vaccinations.  Early vaccinations, when they were first becoming mass produced, would spoil and either lose efficacy and/or become toxic with contaminants.  Thimerisol was discovered to nearly wipe out spoilage, and make vaccinations more stable with a longer shelf life. They were used for decades, but came under scrutiny in the 1970s.  Studies were done to see if there was any effect. The research done my many countries, using wide demographic populations, over many years yielded answers. There was either no effect or no direct correlation between the use of Thimerisol and any illnesses/disease (including autism). When I have time later, I will create a resource page to show the articles I found on this (and many other issues).

Yes, Thimerisol is a mercury compound.  However, mercury comes in three forms: elemental (think: early thermometers), methyl mercury (see: Minimata disease), and ethyl mercury (does not bioaccumulate, does not share toxicity as other forms of mercury, and has even been shown to be excreted from the body, babies included). Thimerisol, a member in the ethyl mercury group, was still phased out of vaccinations as a precaution. By the time Jenny McCarthy brought this issues to the public, Thimerisol had already been taken out of nearly all vaccines.

Science may not lie, but it can be presented by people who have their own agendas. Even without celebrities like Jenny McCarthy (a nursing school drop-out, btw) muddying the discussion waters, scientists who let either emotion or funding source determine the conclusion of their results is just as damaging. One of the saddest things about this (and related issues) is that there seems to  be no shortage of people who do not grasp the value of science.  I fear that we are returning to an intellectual age much like that found in the Middle Ages.  Messhugganuh.

-D

Carbapenem Diem: Seize the Enterococcus.  

http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2015/11/21/mcr-gene-colistin/

I found this interesting article about the science behind how some pathogenic microorganisms are developing a resistance to one of the last bastions of medicine to fight them. Specifically, Carbepenem Resistant Enterococcus (CRE).  While the article points out that resistant bacterial threats, similar to this, have not unfolded in as dire straits as predicted; it is still a grave concern.

Oh, and if you find this article interesting; there is some level of hope in the concept of “quorum sensing.”  I discovered this when searching through TED Talks.  Here is that link:

https://www.ted.com/talks/bonnie_bassler_on_how_bacteria_communicate?language=en#