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what we should learn from Sandy, a local doctors perspective

Sandy brought the best of our community to the fore. It also demonstrated a community wide lack of preparedness, deficiencies, and medical vulnerabilities which can and should be addressed.

The Good

I am a physician, and I have lived and worked in South Brunswick for more than 20 years. On Thursday November first, after having had no power in my home or my office since Sandy's arrival in town, I was beginning to worry about the immunizations which I had stored in my office. These medications were sealed and surrounded by ice, and a specialized thermometer continue to register an acceptable safety range. I knew however, that it was only a matter of time before the temperature would drop to an hazardous level, and all of the immunizations would be destroyed. I unsuccessfully searched for hours for ice to recharge my refrigerator. Finally, I stopped by the South Brunswick police station to see if they knew of any vendor who could sell me the valuable commodity. Instead of directing me, the police officer I spoke to instantly took me into the police station and told me to have a seat. He brought out a second officer Raymond Hayducka, who I later found out was the chief of police. Mr. Hayducka told me that he understood my problem and immediately found with an officer from the Department of Health who told me that the Township was committed to doing anything they could to assist residents, and offered me the use of his refrigerator for my immunizations until power was restored. It seemed to me that every department that I came in contact with had an optimistic, can-do attitude. Their only interest seems to be the well-being of the residents of our community. I appreciate this.

The Bad:

We have neighbors who are too ill to safely travel out of their homes, and many of our friends rely on power to infuse life-giving medications, or oxygen. In an emergency and its aftermath, these peoples lives are at risk. I suggest that the township keep a "voluntary" registry of residence who may need emergency assistance during a future disaster, and make plans to provide assistance to these folks. It was clear that even the police and emergency medical services would not have been able to reliably and consistently render assistance during Sandy. I suggest that FEMA be tasked with prospectively acting BEFORE emergencies. Sandy did not take anyone by surprise. Federal interventions were inadequate to provide emergency transportation, gasoline, and basic supplies. Why? These efforts are practical, and we must demand them of the legislative and executive branches. We don’t need another Katrina.

 

The Ugly

There was no power or traffic signals on Route 1, and transportation was a nightmare for us all. When the signal on Sand Hill Road was finally energized, there did not seem to be any control of the intersection. I was in my office at the intersection of Route 1 In Winwood Dr., and I was horrified on Friday afternoon to witness the traffic backing up from Sand Hill Road, past my office as far as the eye could see. I have two suggestions to prevent this unnecessary, frustrating, and dangerous situation. Major intersections along route one should be directly controlled, during emergencies, by the police, during daylight hours. Secondly, I suggest that several of the most important traffic signals have a backup power source. My recommendation is that a natural gas line be utilized to power a generator which would keep the lights alive during and after future emergencies. This would help alleviate the ugly situation I described above.

Gratefully yours,

Bradley H. Kline, D.O.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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