The Kangaroo Group Workshop
In March, Professor Lightfoot travelled to Brussels to put on a workshop for the Kangaroo Group in the European Parliament. Attended by forty member state delegates from the European Council and MEPs, the workshop addressed the issue of Cross Border Health Threats and asked the question – Is The European Union prepared for a Bio-Terrorism Attack?
Professor Lightfoot gave the keynote presentation and directed his listeners’ attention to one key concept immediately ‘No one country can be expected to cope with a bioterrorist attack on its own…Member States will have to work together, coordination will be required and the international decision-making process will have to be researched, planned and then rehearsed’. His message was straightforward – ‘the essential requirement for rapid decisions in the first few hours is our mutual responsibility’.
He then went on to describe an imagined scenario of bio-terrorist attack – Anthrax – drawing his audience in to the drama and multiple streams of constantly developing information that they would be required to navigate and manage. He drew attention to the media and to the window of opportunity for effective response presented in the very earliest stages of attack; he raised the contamination issues of public transport, changes in weather and international travel and went on to consider the enormous challenge that will face the country in which the attack originally occurs. Will there be civil unrest? How will health care systems cope? How do we determine the areas of exposure rapidly? How do we protect emergency responders going into the contamination zone? How does that country begin recovery?
Professor Lightfoot emphasised that external help will be absolutely necessary.
A considerable amount of preparedness has been achieved since 9/11, but in the context of bio-terrorist attack a new paradigm of decision making will be required – decision-making within the first few hours. Critically, this speed response will not be achieved unless the response itself has been rehearsed. Professor Lightfoot concluded his keynote address by returning to the concept of mutual aid, ‘The proposed legislation on Cross Border Health Threats is an absolute requirement…it is easy to carry out an attack and yet very difficult to prevent’ – our defence is preparation, in a coordinated, united and codified way.
Throughout April, Nigel Lightfoot Associates’ blog posts have been united by the theme of prevention. We are an expert consultancy firm that helps clients to prepare for emergency situations. If you would like to find out more, please get in touch.