Last fall HealthGuard's CEO traveled to our nation's capital to attend the Healthcare Sector Coordinating Council meeting. The meeting was two days of presentations by industry experts and leaders from both the private sector and government agencies. It included a series of table-top exercises that dealt with a number of issues/disasters, including scenarios that led to major disruptions to regional energy and transportation sectors.
One of the key takeaways from the exercises was the realization that while many organizations have some type of disaster recovery and business continuity capabilities in place (e.g. plans, operating procedures, generators, fuel, etc.), most of these capabilities are only designed to deal with localized, short-term (24-96 hour) power outages. Few, if any, are prepared to deal with the type of catastrophic, widespread, long-term outages associated with something known as a black sky hazard.
What is a Black Sky Hazard?
A Black Sky Hazard is a catastrophic event that severely disrupts the normal functioning of our critical infrastructures in multiple regions for long durations. There are a number of very real man-made threats, such as cyber attacks, and Electro Magnetic Pulses (EMP), and natural threats, such as geomagnetic storms, that can cause a Black Sky event.
How Serious is the Problem?
Academic, industry and government experts agree on two things: 1) our nation (both private industry and our government) is ill-prepared for these hazards, and 2) it is not a matter of IF, but WHEN.
The short video below, released by the Electric Infrastructure Security (EIS) Council in 2013, provides a chilling perspective on how serious this issue really is.
What Can You Do?
The first thing we suggest you do is educate yourself and your organization. There are two excellent learning opportunities coming up that we urge folks to consider:
First, on August 22, 2018 the Electric Infrastructure Security (EIS) Council will be holding the second annual Emergency All-sector Response Transnational Hazard Exercise™ called Earth Ex. Earth Ex is an all-sector, global, video-enabled interactive planning exercise for complex catastrophes. This exercise is intended for individuals, families, and organizations, and is free to participate in. HealthGuard participated in the inaugural exercise, and found it to be extremely valuable.
You can learn more about Earth Ex and register here: https://www.eiscouncil.org/EarthEx.aspx
Then, on November 5th, 2018 the Ohio and Kentucky Infragard Members Alliances will be co-hosting the 2nd annual Midwest Health and Public Health Summit. On the agenda is Dr Earl Motzer, co-author of Resilient Hospitals Handbook: Strengthening Healthcare and Public Health Resilience in Advance of a Prolonged and Widespread Power Outage. Dr. Motzer will be speaking about the effects of long-term power outages on the Nation's healthcare system.
Summit registration is now open. Admission is $100 w/ an early bird price of $75 until Aug 31.