Photo from Google Images courtesy of Steven Spielberg and Indiana Jones
Yesterday, AGMA heard about her worst nightmare. Okay, that may be a bit dramatic. Redo. I heard about something that caused my head to pound and my eye’s to glaze over.
Not that far off of a typical morning for AGMA.
NPR’s Morning Edition reporter Nell Greenfieldboyce did a segment on the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).
Does that sound like an oxymoron to anybody else?
For AGMA friends across the globe, NPR stands for National Public Radio. It’s non-commercial, not for profit, as close to unbiased media as you can get in the U.S. It relies on a combination of listener contributions, corporate donations and some public monies for funding. In other words, it’s independent, fact-based journalism at it’s best. Old school stuff.
Walter Cronkite would be proud.
So evidently there are these six huge (double super WalMart sized) super secret warehouses in super secret locations around the U.S. that the government is storing medical stuff in case of a bioterrorism attack or other catastrophic national health emergency.
So basically it’s the “under the bathroom sink” storage for America.
According Greg Burel, the director of the program for the Centers for Disease Control, the SNS inventory is valued at 7 billion (that’s billion with a B) dollars. That’s around a around 5.25 billion Britsh Pounds.
It would have been more last week. But that’s another post.
7 billion dollars. That’s a lot of Pepto Bismol and Alka Seltzer. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz.
I immediately reflected on the many, great challenges this must present in “expiration date control”. This seems to be a major stumbling block for AGMA in her under the bathroom sink management skills. Whenever I pull out something to use for the rare cold or allergy symptom, it’s always expired. I take it anyway.
But since that won’t probably work for the SNS, they make a big deal out of inventory management and expiration date control. To the tune of $500,000,000 a year. Post-Brexit = 375,000,000 GBP.
It was more last week.
If somebody paid AGMA $50 (37.57 GBP), she’d make a little bit more of an effort to make sure the Nyquil still packed it’s nose drying, cough stopping, headache calming punch.
It makes me wonder what the SNS does with stuff when it expires?
Hubs got a burst of uncharacteristic energy this past weekend and cleaned out the vast wasteland under his sink. He put the expired stuff in a trash bag and dumped it in the garbage can.
They probably can’t do that.
Nell’s report mention one area in each of the SNS warehouse’s that’s caged off and locked. That’s where they store the items that could be addictive.
AGMA totally gets that. Inevitably, I ask Hubs to hide the extra boxes of the Girl Scout Thin Mints so I can’t get to them. It’s just safer for everybody.
Then there is the question of what to stockpile in the National Stockpile. That’s where the strategery comes in. They use consultants to look into their crystal balls to try to figure out what makes sense given the logical, perceived threats. One consultant to the SNS said, “We could start stocking piling cobra anti-venom if we really wanted to, but should we?”
Seriously? Didn’t he see Snakes on a Plane?
The deployment plans – getting the stuff from the warehouse to the people who need it – sound a bit more dicey. They plan on relying on state and local public health officials.
These are the very same public health officials who have had their budgets slashed and staffs reduced year after year. They are over worked and underfunded, and don’t have the resources to carry on their everyday critically important work let alone prepare for a national emergency.
Sounds like a good plan. If your Donald Trump. Like Mexico paying for a wall.
Thankfully, they have a back-up plan to the plan. Kind of. Not really.
Public health officials have a list of volunteers who have make a pinky swear to help out. Cross their hearts. And with a few noble exceptions, we know how well that all worked when Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005.
At this point, AGMA would kiss her sweet Aging Gracefully ass goodbye, get a bottle of champagne from the wine fridge, dive under the bathroom sink and start popping open expired bottles of whatever she found.
I give my self a 50-50 chance.
AGMA and her ass will take those odds.
Check out the article here.