Friday, October 17, 2014

USS Constitution

The USS Constitution, aka "Old Ironsides" is heading for dry dock for a 3 year refurbishment. I posted about her on my last visit to Boston. The link is here.

I happened to visit Boston on her last refurbishment. You get a very different perspective of the ship. First of all, they have to find guys who have skills no longer in fashion. Very few people are around that have the skills to repair a wooden sailing vessel. In the museum, they had a display of all the good luck coins that had been placed under her masts in previous refurbishments. Another interesting fact is how they get the wood to repair her. They get donations of Live Oak stumps that they then use to make her new timbers.

Even though she may not be available for boarding, it is still worth a visit if you happen to be in Boston.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

HAZOP, Risk Ranking and Ebola

During the design of new oil and gas or chemical facilities it is required that something called a HAZOP be performed. A HAZOP is short for hazard and operability study. In it, a group of engineers brainstorm all the different ways that something could go wrong, no matter how remote. When all of these are captured to the satisfaction of everyone on the team, they then try to decide upon the possibility of that event occurring and the damage should it occur. Each potential failure is then given a risk ranking. These range from High Probability - Low Consequence to Low Probability - High Consequence. We all know that we have to protect ourselves  from the former but we also have to consider the latter.

I submit that the transmission of ebola should be considered a Low Probability - High Consequence event. It may be difficult to transmit but the consequences of catching it are very high. In engineering, we would take whatever means were necessary to guard against one of these events and ebola should be thought of in the same way. We cannot be casual in our approach to containing this disease.

And that means you have to assume that anyone treating an ebola patient could contract the disease. Therefore, all health care workers should be volunteers who agree to be under quarantine for three weeks to make sure that they do not come down with the disease. During this period they should not be allowed to travel or interact with the public. Understanding this does not require a medical degree, ony a degree in common sense which seems to be lacking in our current government.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

More Ebola

A second health care worker who cared for Thomas Duncan has come down with a fever and is being tested for ebola. The nurses union is also complaining that the hospital did not take proper care of medical waste produced during his treatment allowing it to collect in the room.

You cannot treat this disease in your local hospital and it you do, you put countless others at risk.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ebola Update

The fact that a nurse from Dallas has now contracted the disease proves to me that you cannot treat this disease in your local hospital isolation ward. The speculation is that she came in contact with the virus while she was taking off her PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). In any case, the CDC is blaming her the same way the FAA claims pilot error.

IMHO, Ebola should only be handled in a Level 4 biological facility. This facility would have several decontamination processes, complete space suits with an internal air supply and the personnel would be trained in their use. You can count the ones in the US on one hand. Your local hospital is not equipped nor is the staff trained.

In other news:
  • The nurse in Australia was tested and found negative for ebola.
  • Louisiana is refusing to allow medical waste (even if it has been incinerated) into the state. This could set up a states rights issue should the federal government mandate that the state accept the waste.
  • There was a panic on an Emirates flight from Dubai to Boston when several people became sick. I suspect it was food poisoning.
Here are some things to ponder......

What do they have to do to decontaminate the apartment of an ebola patient? I suspect they have have to remove and destroy everything. They took 140 barrels of stuff out of Thomas Duncan apartment and burned it.

Do you think the owner will ever be able to rent that apartment, or any apartment in that complex?

Why have we not heard any news about the 48 people that the CDC is following in Dallas or the state of the ambulance staff?

Why do we not know how long the virus can exist on a hard surface? This is basic information that should be known.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Review - Deadline

This is the 8th in John Sandford's series featuring the Virgil Flowers. Virgil always seems to fall into interesting situations and this one is no different. A friend calls Virgil for help with a dog napping situation. Virgil, being in a slow period and looking for a good place to fish, agrees to help. Little does he know that in the same town, the local school board is conspiring on some public corruption and murder. They decide to whack the local new reporter and the case falls into Virgil's lap. And while he's looking into that situation, he finds a meth lab.

I had waited for this release for a long time and my intention was to read this slowly and savor it, but my curiosity kept me turning pages whenever I had a free moment. I couldn't wait to see how Virgil solved the missing dog mystery, made a raid on the meth lab and caught the murderers. And as usually happens with Flowers, he ends up in a humorous situation at the end of the story.

If you like Sandford and like to follow this character, you will enjoy this book.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Ebola Update

Here is some of the latest news.....
  • Patient Zero has died
  • A nurse in Australia is thought to have the disease. She worked in Liberia
  • Dallas cop who was in the apartment has been cleared of having the disease
  • CDC says they won't stop travel from the affected areas
  • Have you heard any news about the status of the ambulance crew or the family of Patient Zero?
It's getting stupid crazy. All past epidemics have been stopped by isolating the area and letting the disease burn itself out. An accepted procedure to contain other epidemics is to isolate the area and innoculate everyone in the surrounding area. The idea is to prevent the disease from getting out. Yet our government is keen on doing the opposite. I can only think that they want to cause a crisis so that they can impose government restrictions on us.

Lets face it, ebola patients need to be treated in a level 4 biological safety environment, not the isolation ward of your local hospital.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ebola - Never Let a Serious Crisis Go To Waste.

So, ebola has come to Dallas. You've seen the press conference where medical officials are telling you not to worry while they skim over the details of what they are doing to track down the contacts that Patient Zero had during the 6 days he roamed the city and was potentially infecting people. They tell us they will isolate and monitor people he had contact with for at least 21 days as if this is a friendly and benign process.

Think about what this means......The Federal Government, and the states, have laws for dealing with public health crisis. Legally, they could quarantine you for as long as they see fit and if you leave quarantine, they can arrest you without a warrant. These laws will be enforced by local law enforcement who may not be too happy about getting too close to a potential carrier. What means would they use to subdue you? And where would they take you? Will they take you to a central location or let you stay in your home? Where will they get the manpower to monitor all those people?

I think people should start to consider these questions and understand the implications of the laws concerning public health.

And this was one of my concerns in sending US troops to Africa to deal with ebola. What happens when our troops either have to forcibly quarantine people or protect a medical team from a mob?