Doctors In Houston

Doctors.jpeg

With the crisis of Hurricane Harvey and the rains still battering Houston…


It was so amazing to read this morning about the doctors who are going all out to help people in need there.


Doctors staying in the hospital for days to cover their patients stuck there and requiring care and treatment.


And others that are wading through the waters at there own risk to get there to treat the sick.


One doctor mentioned was Adi Diab M.D. who trekked 3 miles through a foot of water to get Anderson Cancer Center “to attend to a patient undergoing an experimental cancer treatment.”


He did this so as not to interfere with the patients scheduled treatment for the re-engineering of immune cells to fight a tumor.


I’ll tell you, there really are some truly amazing people out there–whether doctors and nurses, firefighters and emergency responders, law enforcement and military personnel.


They run into danger and disaster zones when everyone else is running out. 


Is it professionalism, dedication, duty, or an angelic calling to help people and the nation in need.


This is our nation at its best–united!!!–and helping our neighbors, saving lives, and putting others before self.


“Houston there is a problem”, and as unbelievably horrible and unfortunate as it is, perhaps it is also a critical reminder of what’s really important and a healing to our great nation.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Thank You To The Rescuers

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With all the devastation going on around Houston and the Gulf Coast from Hurricane Harvey…


I thought it would be nice to just take a moment to reflect.


First, the pain and suffering of the people affected. 


I couldn’t believe last night when I saw this image of residents in a assisted nursing facility sitting up to the necks in flood waters.


Or this morning, when I saw a photo in the Wall Street Journal of a firefighter holding a mother with her baby daughter lying on her, rescuing them through the waters. 


With over 3,000 rescues performed for people stranded in attics, rooftops, in cars, and all over the city and surroundings, I also think it’s important to recognize all the firefighters and other emergency workers who put their lives on the line to help others. 


The Houston area is expected to get 50 inches of rain in under a week, which is what their usual annual rainfall is. 


So there is massive flooding and damage from Harvey as well as 250,000 people without power. 


My prayers go out to the people impacted and gratitude to the people who help them. 


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Huffington Post)

Personal Bulletproof Shielfs


In light of the horrible school shootings we have witnessed in Sandy Hook Elementary School, Virginia Tech, Columbine High School, and more, people and companies are trying to figure out how to fight back. 


In some cases, ex-Marines have decided to stand guard at their children’s schools.


In others, companies are coming up with emergency protective devices as a last line of defense for teachers and school children. 


Hardwire Armor Systems has developed a white board that doubles as a bulletproof shield. 


According to USA Today (22 January 2013), the whiteboards are 18″ by 20″, a quarter inch thick, and 3.75 lbs. and have three rubberized handles on the back for slipping your arm through.


The shield is large enough to cover the head and torso, is 2 1/2 times as strong as Kevlar, and “can stop a bullet from a handgun shot at point-blank range.” 


The whiteboards are made of a similar ultra-strong polyethylene material used in Mine Resistant Ambush Protective (MRAP) vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they are light enough and less dense than water and will actually float. 


While we hope our teachers and children never need these to hold off an attacker until first responders arrive, it is good to know that they are there just in case to stop that deadly oncoming bullet. 


The whiteboard costs $299 and a smaller 10″ by 13″ bulletproof clipboard costs $109.To outfit a standard high school with whiteboards would cost $15,000 and for all 7 million teachers and administrators in America $1.8 billion. 


From teaching math and science to protecting our children and teachers, these ballistic shields can be part of a multi-layered defense plan for our schools–and I would think for corporate America, religious institutions, and government agencies as well–and is an awesome idea. 😉

Beyond the Four Seasons

Taj

For anyone who has ever stayed at the Four Seasons, you know it is an incredible hotel.

Customer service reins supreme and that’s not just good business, it’s good corporate values.

But reading about the Indian version of the Four Seasons called the Taj–it seems like they have taken customer service to a whole new level.

The Tajwhich has been operating for more than 100 years (opened in 1903) has 108 hotels in 12 countries, including of course India, but also Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and even America (Boston, New York, and San Francisco).

Harvard Business Review (December 2011) describes not just the routine day-to-day service provided at the Taj, but rather how they behaved under one of the most trying events, a terrorist attack.

On November 26, 2008, there began a coordinated 10 attacks across India’s largest city Mumbai than killed at least 159 and gravely wounded more than 200. The attack now referred to as 26/11 (i.e. 26th of  November) included the luxury hotel, the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower (i.e. the Taj Mumbai).

The Taj Mumbai suffered at least 6 blasts and “stayed ablaze for two days and three nights” engulfing the beautiful domes and spires of this structure.

But while the hotel suffered significant damage resulting in months of rebuilding, the spirit of service by the workers at the Taj was tested to the extreme and thrived.

HBR describes how Taj staff, hearing the blasts and automatic weapons, safeguarded their guests during the attack going so far as “insisting that husbands and wives separate to reduce the risk to families, offering water and asking people if they needed anything,…[and] evacuating the guests first.”

The Taj staff did not run out screaming–everyman and woman for themselves, but they not only stayed calm and helpful, but they actually put their guests lives above their own.

This is sort of reminiscent of the firefighters, police, and other emergency first responders on 9-11, who ran up the stairs on the burning World Trade Center to save people–but in this case at the Taj, these were not trained rescuers, they were hotel staff.

In another instance at the hotel, according to the article, hotel employees even “form[ed] a human cordon” around the guests.

This again sounds more like the Secret Service protecting the President of the United States, then waiters and waitresses serving guests.

This is not to say that culture is the driving factor here, for example just this December 9, ABC News reports on how a fire broke out in an Indian hospital and killed at least 89 residents,  while the “staff flees” and 6 administrators are subsequently arrested.

So if national culture is not the difference in how organizations and its people treat customers–what is?

HBR explains that it’s really a recipe for customer service and user-centricity.

Starting with a “values-driven recruitment system” where the hotel looks for employees with character traits such as respect for elders, cheerfulness, and neediness (this reminds me of a boss I had that used to say she likes to hire employees “who are hungry.”).

The Taj follows up their recruitment with a commitment to training and mentoring and empowering employees fully to do whatever it takes to meet the needs of its customers at what it calls “moments of truth.”

The values of the Taj go so far toward serving its customers, that they insist that employees actually put customer needs aheadof the company and this is reinforced with a recognition system for those who strive and act for making happy customers.

Is this user-centric orientation limited to just the Taj Mumbai?

Apparently not, when a Tsunami struck at 9:30 AM on December 26, 2004 and killed 185,000 people, the Taj on the Maldives Island affected “rushed to every room and escorted them [the guests] to high ground” and still managed to serve lunch to survivors by 1:00 PM.

Talking about setting the bar high for customer service–how can you beat that?

(Source Photo: here)

CPR by iPhone

Great new iPhone App by the San Ramon Fire Department called FireDepartment.
This life-saving iPhone app notifies citizens trained in CPR (that have opted-in) of a cardiac emergency occurring in a public area near them.
An article in Government Technology (May 2011) explains that citizens can “start administering CPR before first responders arrive at the scene.
The problem it addresses is that generally it takes about 7 minutes from a heart attack to death, and it can take about just as long for rescue crews to reach victims.
So, if there are qualified people in the vicinity that can help in the the crucial minutes in between, they can literally save lives.
This is how it works:
1) Emergency dispatchers receive a call for help.
2) They enter “CPR assistance needed” into the dispatch system. 
3) First responders AND local citizens with the CPR app (within 500 feet of the emergency) are alerted.  
4) Location-based technology in the iPhone directs you to not only where the assistance is needed but also to where the nearest automated external defibrillator (AED) can be found. 
“If you’re at Starbucks and next door at the deli someone goes down, you’re getting a notification.”
Currently, the app covers San Ramon County’s 155 miles, but there are plans to make it available as open source code to other jurisdictions across the country as well. 
The app was developed with the help of Fire Chief Richard Price who previously was a software engineer and is bringing a new technology focus to life-saving emergency response. 
There are also iPhone apps that walk you through performing CPR, such as CPR-Choking and CPR Hero.  
Hopefully, we never need these apps, but it’s good to know people and information are there to help just an iPhone app away. 

>Meet ATLAS

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Atlas

This is amazing (watch the whole thing)!

Meet the latest and greatest military humanoid robot from Boston Dynamics–Atlas (aka PETMAN).

(Boston Dynamics is the same company that makes BigDog, the 4 legged, ground transport robot, that looks like a mule–called the Legged Squad Support System, LS3)

Watch the movement of the Atlas robot–it is JUST like a person: heel to toe walking.

See what happens when you push it–Atlas reacts/recovers like a human would.

The built up version has hands that help it balance and squeeze through tight spaces.

BusinessWeek (March 7-13, 2011) explains that this robot will be used initially for surveillance and emergency rescue missions.
I’m thinking Atlas should be pronounced like “at last” to recognize the amazing leap forward in robotics.

This is great stuff–and it demonstrates our growing understanding of not only computers and robotics, but also of the physical and behavioral sciences.

>Awesome Emergency Management Technologies

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Obviously, I am a technology aficionado, but there is none more awesome than technology, which saves lives.

So to me, defense systems (a topic for another blog) and emergency management systems are two of the most fascinating and compelling areas of technology.

Recently, I have been closely following the story of the Chilean miners trapped beneath 2,200 feet of rock and earth due to a cave-in on 5 August.

It took 17 days to even find the miners in the winding underground mineshaft, and since then the ongoing determination and ingenuity of the emergency rescuers has been incredible.

The Wall Street Journal, 1 October 2010, in an article called “Inventions Ease the Plight of Trapped Miners” describes this unbelievable rescue effort.

Here are some of the technologies making their way a half-mile underground to the 33-trapped miners:

The Paloma (or Pigeon)—supply pod that is “a five-foot-long hollow cylinder that works like a pneumatic tube.” Rescuers stuff it with supplies and lower about 40 of these every day through a 4 inch diameter shaft to supply the miners food, medicine, electrical supplies.

The Phoenixrescue capsule, 10 feet tall, 900 pounds, with its own oxygen supply and communication systems designed to extract the trapped miners and bring each of them for the 15-40 minute ride it will take to get them to the safety of the surface.

Fiber Optic Communications—the miners are using a fiber-optic video camera and telephone link hooked to videoconferencing equipment. This has been cited as one of the biggest boosters of the miner’s morale.

Video Projectors—cellphones with built in projectors have been sent down to the miners allowing them to watch films and videos of family and friends.

iPods—these were considered, but rejected by the chief psychologist of the rescue effort who feared that this may isolate the miners, rather than integrate them during this emergency.

Modern Hygiene Products—Dry shampoo, soap-embedded hand towels, and self-sterilizing socks, have helped reduce odor and infection from the miners.

NASA engineers have exclaimed about the innovation shown by the Chilean emergency rescuers: “they are crossing new thresholds here.”

There are some great pictures and graphics of these devices at an article in the U.K. Telegraph.

What was once being targeted as a holiday rescue, by December, is now being envisioned as an October-November rescue operation. And with the continued application of innovation and technology, the miners will soon we back safe with their families and loved ones.

Also, ongoing kudos to the heroic rescuers!