Date of Award

8-2015

Document Type

Capstone-Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Program Name

Emergency and Disaster Management

Capstone Instructor

Dr. Randall Cuthbert

Abstract

Throughout history, biological and pandemic outbreaks have plagued the global population. In recent history, the fear of a bioterrorism event has become even more prevalent. Because of events such as the anthrax attacks following September 11th, and even more recently with the Ebola outbreak, preparedness and vulnerability of the population to these biological agents has become an even bigger priority. On the front lines of the fight to combat these biological agents are the hospital and healthcare systems of the United States. The ability of hospitals and healthcare systems to prepare for and respond to a biological weapons or a pandemic incident may be the difference between life and death for a large number of the population. This paper will examine the current state of preparedness and vulnerability of hospital and healthcare systems in the in the Western Pennsylvania region. Research consisted of qualitative analysis of past and current regulations regarding preparedness for biological events, case studies of past events, and review of academic journals, media reports, and government resources. Research shows that the threat of bioterrorism and pandemic events remains a serious threat. While the probability of bioterrorism and mass pandemic outbreaks may be low, the risk and potential consequences should it occur is far too high to not be prepared for the incident. However, results show that there will be many obstacles and challenges to overcome in order to ensure that hospital and healthcare systems are fully prepared to respond to the threat of bioterrorism and pandemic events. These challenges must be met and overcome in order to guarantee that safety of patients and victims.

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