I wanted to put this one out there because of the recent news about Ebola and it’s spread. According to the CDC, their worst-case scenario is that we will see over 500,000 cases of Ebola infection in Africa by January of next year. This is by far a greater projection than others have given, and this should give pause. The current death toll according the WHO is 2630 people as of last thursday.
With that said, an increase in casualties will further push the fear and panic element of this disaster. That, and with poor education and rumors being spread, horrible consequences can happen. A specific example is the killing of Ebola response workers in Guinea. Because there was a rumor within the village that these workers were the ones infecting the village, a riot ensued and these poor folks were killed with sticks and stones by an angry and fearful mob.
A couple things that come to mind when it comes to the security side of this disaster response. When people panic, they will do what they can to survive. They will either destroy that in which is a threat, or they will run away. Fight or flight. Most will try to escape those areas that have high numbers of Ebola cases. When they see the bodies or hear on the grape vine of what is happening, they will want to leave these areas and that is a natural response.
Why is this important to note? Because those who want to leave these areas, could very well have Ebola and not even know it. They will want to survive, and they will do what they can to bypass quarantines and borders and blocking forces, all so they don’t get stuck in these virus zones. If they are fearful of aid workers or are not educated on the causes of Ebola, then fear will absolutely cloud their thinking and rationality.
Another example of the security problem vs the spread of the virus, is what happened in a slum in Liberia back in August. Police were tasked by the government to seal off a slum that had 50,000 people in it so they could contain an outbreak. You can only imagine the kind of fear and anger that these police had to deal with in such a situation?
So how do you prevent the spread of a virus like this, with a panicked population hell bent on getting away from the thing? Or how do you prevent these people from killing aid workers? Education of course. But it takes something else, which will give the aid workers comfort to do this dangerous work.
That is where private security, and of course law enforcement and military comes in. Someone has to protect these aid workers as they fight to educate locals or sift through these local populations to find infected people. Someone has to guard the quarantine centers so infected folks do not leave, or terrorists do not come in to steal infected bodies. Someone has to help secure the refugee centers or the disaster response centers?
Which brings up another issue to think about. There are many terrorist organizations out there that would love to have a biowarfare agent like Ebola. With an infected martyr, they could literally spread their weapon called Ebola wherever they wanted to spread it. This reality alone should motivate authorities to do all they can to secure the bodies or secure quarantine areas.
So you have the fight or flight mechanism in play to spread the virus, and you have the criminal/terrorist angle that can spread the virus. The answer to prevent this spread, will require security in one form or the other. And it has to happen now! And if Ebola goes airborne, because it has genetically changed through all of these infections, then securing the infected really becomes important.
I should also note that I have been getting private messages from contractors involved with the security side of stopping this disease, and all of these concerns I am talking about are front and center. My response to these folks is that private security can certainly respond to a disaster like this, but it needs information and incentive. The quality and quantity of that private security is also dependent upon the desire to properly screen and select individuals for the contracts, and they need assurances that if they get infected while on the job, that the will get the best treatment possible for survival. One model of success for how fast private security can respond, was the 2005 Hurricane Katrina response.
As this disaster continues to unfold, we will see how the response goes. I imagine there will be an increase in demand for security and logistical services, and I am sure this industry will answer the call. If any jobs come up, I will post them. If you are an NGO or whomever that is in need of private security, please feel free to comment below this post and I will allow you to advertise. Or I can start a new post as a Job alert. I am also watching FBO because the US just dedicated 500 million dollars and 3,000 troops to help contain this. So there is some movement and concern here. –Matt
World Health Organization website here.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention website here.
Ebola Worst-Case Scenario Has More Than 500,000 Cases
By Caroline Chen, Brendan Greeley and Kelly Gilblom
Sep 19, 2014
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa could spread to hundreds of thousands more people by the end of January, according to an estimate under development by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that puts one worst-case scenario at 550,000 or more infections.
The report, scheduled to be released next week, was described by two people familiar with its contents, who asked to remain anonymous because it isn’t yet public.
The projection, which vastly outstrips previous estimates, is under review by researchers and may change. It assumes no additional aid or intervention by governments and relief agencies, which are mobilizing to contain the Ebola outbreak before it spirals further out of control in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
“CDC is working on a dynamic modeling tool that allows for recalculations of projected Ebola cases over time,” Barbara Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the agency, said in an e-mail. “CDC expects to release this interactive tool and a description of its use soon.”
The World Health Organization said last month that the outbreak could reach 20,000 cases before being brought under control. That projection is already outdated, WHO spokesman Dan Epstein said today in a phone interview.
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