Monday, April 19, 2010

Volcanoes and Preparedness

I was listening to the radio on my way to work this morning when I heard a news item about the Iceland volcano eruption. By now it should be news to no one that air travel between most of Europe and the rest of the world has been nonexistent for five days now due to the ash cloud from the volcano. Jet airliners cannot fly through ash clouds. The abrasive ash ruins jet engines.

This in itself is not unusual. Some years ago I had to sit around the SeaTac airport because flights to Anchorage, Alaska were postponed due to ash clouds from one of the volcanoes around Anchorage. Nothing major, just a couple of days delay. I don't recall shipment of crucial supplies to Alaska being interrupted.

The news today, the airport at Madrid, Spain was mentioned as having become the major air hub for traffic into Europe. What caught my attention was that the inability to land airplanes in most of Europe was causing a shortage of medications and medical supplies. These medications and medical supplies were arriving in Madrid and being trucked into other parts of Europe.

This raises two questions in my mind. One, how dependent are we on foreign suppliers for vital items such as medications and medical supplies? Two, do we have sufficient domestic inventory of vital items to last more than five days?

I am astounded that Europe is facing a shortage of medical supplies after only five days without air transport. If the United States functions anything like Europe, what shape are we in to weather any kind of disaster, whether natural or man made?

This reminds me that prepping is not just for TEOTWAWKI.

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