DIAMOND VALLEY – More than 100 people turned out at the old Diamond Valley Fire Station Tuesday night to learn how to survive a pandemic. The class was prompted by the recent outbreaks of the Ebola virus in various parts of the world.
According to the World Health Organization website, more than 1,711 confirmed cases of Ebola have resulted in 932 deaths as of Aug. 4.
Ebola virus disease – formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever – is a severe, often fatal illness with a case fatality rate of up to 90 percent. It is one of the world’s most virulent diseases. The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people.
According to the WHO website:
The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in west Africa continues to evolve in alarming ways, with no immediate end in sight. Many barriers stand in the way of rapid containment. The most severely affected countries, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, have only recently returned to political stability following years of civil war and conflict, which left health systems largely destroyed or severely disabled.
On Aug. 8, WHO declared that the recent Ebola outbreak — the largest and longest in history — is worrisome enough to merit being declared an international health emergency. WHO declared a similar emergency situation for the swine flu outbreak in 2009.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already elevated its Ebola response to the highest level and has cautioned against traveling to West Africa. On Aug. 7, CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden stated at a congressional hearing that the current outbreak is set to sicken more people than all previous outbreaks of the disease combined. Frieden also told the congressional panel the U.S. could expect isolated cases, but well-prepared hospitals could prevent a widespread epidemic.
Diamond Valley meeting
Kevin Reeve, with OnPoint Tactical, has been teaching survival for almost 20 years and has been teaching scouting, tracking and urban survival to Navy SEAL teams and Special Forces groups. After what his company witnessed during Hurricane Katrina, it was decided that OnPoint Tactical would expand its services to the civilian market.
“I did not expect over 100 people,” Reeve said at the beginning of the meeting. “I’m happy. This may save your life.”
Reeve began the meeting by stressing that the mortality rate of Ebola is between 60-95 percent. He then contrasted Ebola with the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which killed between 50 million and 100 million people; Spanish flu only had a mortality rate of between 2.5-5 percent.
“I am trying to scare you a little bit, right up front,” Reeve said. “I am doing that so you will know how serious this is and pay attention on how to survive.”
Reeve said pandemics happen about every 60 years, with the last one being in 1918.
“Ebola is a hemorrhagic fever,” he said. “What that means is this disease causes your internal organs to hemorrhage. Essentially, your internal organs liquefy. Ebola incubation period is 2-21 days, and you are contagious for sure when you are symptomatic.”
Southwest Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response Paulette Valentine, who was also in attendance at the Tuesday night meeting, addressed the crowd, saying:
Currently, if you have traveled to any country and come back to Washington County, you are on a 21-day watch. We already do a good job of protecting and doing what we can right now.
Reeve said he recently read an article that stated in many of the African countries where Ebola virus disease is rampaging, the health care workers, such as doctors and nurses, have died of exposure or have left to avoid dying of exposure. The article also said people who fear they are getting sicker in the hospitals are leaving and spreading it out into the population.
“Based on the average number people come into contact with, they developed the rule of 20,” Reeve said, “that each contagious person will infect 20 more people – then they infect 20. After one iteration, we have 400 people infected; after two iterations, it’s 8,000; three, it’s 160,000; four, it’s 640,000; after five, it’s 128 million people. All from one person infected.”
Reeve said the only sure way to prevent the disease is through isolation, social distancing, or what used to be called self-imposed quarantine.
“The typical thinking is that it takes 90 days for a disease to pass through an area,” Reeve said. “If in the first pass it has not killed everyone that it’s going to, it will make a second pass around day 60, and usually by day 90 it has burned itself out.”
Reeve said the island kingdom of Samoa did not lose a single person or experience a single exposure due to Spanish flu because the residents isolated themselves. They shut down their ports and allowed people to leave the island, but no one was permitted onto the island.
“Social distancing means you lock the doors,” Reeve said. “Don’t have any social contact with anyone for any reason. I would not go outside, because I could randomly run into someone who is infectious. If I stay inside my home for 90 days, I will not get sick.”
Reeve said people need to get ready now and will have to address food, water, medical needs, sanitation and being able to defend themselves for 90 days.
In some areas, utilities may remain functional for 90 days; in other areas, they may not, Reeve said, and people need to be prepared for that.
Reeve said if less than 10 percent of the workforce calls in sick, it could crash utility operations and other vital infrastructures.
“The military has what they call standard operating procedure, or SOPs,” Reeve said. “Your family needs to develop one in case of an emergency like this.”
Reeve said his family’s SOP is to move indoors and not have physical contact with anyone. Reeve said he has a border around the perimeter of his home – a chain link fence and a wall. Reeve said he will defend his border by any means necessary.
“If you come over my fence, you will be challenged,” he said.
Reeve said the only exception is family members. If a family member arrives during isolation, you should quarantine them outside for 21 days to make sure they are not infected, then you can allow them into your home.
“There will have to be someone in the family who volunteers to be ‘the outside man,’” Reeve said. “This person resides outside, in the yard between the walls and the fence.”
Reeve said this person’s job is to interact with anyone outside the border without getting close. The “outside man” handles all the logistics. The family puts the trash and waste outside in a “sally port,” or buffer zone, and the outside man takes care of it. He has no contact with the people inside the home. If the people inside the home need or run out of something, the outside man tries to locate it for them.
“The people who volunteer to do this job are heroes,” Reeve said.
These outside people will coordinate with other outside people, without close contact, to ensure the survival of the people inside the home. This way, community members can still interact and survive while in isolation.
“By the time the government makes an official announcement, you are behind,” Reeve said. “Be proactive in monitoring the situation. Start preparing now. If you wait till you hear about an outbreak in Las Vegas to run to the store and get supplies, you may encounter the other hundreds of people who had the same idea.”
- Where the meds are: Southwest Utah Public Health prepares for disaster
- Health department holds flu shot clinics across southwest Utah; free with some insurance
- Southwest Utah Public Health Department: Air quality advisory
- Public information officers train in earthquake response
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.