Thursday, August 10, 2006

Really Ready

Huh. Apparently college kids these days aren't just boozing and listening to their iPods:

Emily Hesaltine was a sophomore at the University of Virginia looking for a summer internship where she could apply her engineering background to a public policy issue.

This summer, as an intern at the Federation of American Scientists, the 20-year-old did that in a big way: She analyzed the Department of Homeland Security's emergency preparedness Web site,, and came up with a new version of the site that the federation calls significantly improved.

The government site says, "If you see signs of a chemical attack, . . . consider if you can get out of the area or if you should go inside the closest building and 'shelter-in-place.' " But Hesaltine said a Rand Corp. think tank study on chemical attacks made clear that "trying to get away from the chemical cloud after the attack is dangerous because it's hard to tell which direction the wind is blowing." The new site urges people to go directly to a building and seal themselves inside a room.

The government site says that if there is no warning of a nuclear explosion, "quickly assess the situation." To which [Hesaltine's boss, Michael] Stebbins moans: "Duhhhhhhh." The ReallyReady site dives right into how to identify a nuclear attack and what to do.

While most of the new site revises and clarifies advice already on the government site, it substantially adds to one facet. Stebbins and Hesaltine found a dearth of guidance on for disabled people. Stebbins noted that about the same amount of information is offered for disabled people as for pets.
I don't know if I'm less reassured that this site could be so easily improved, or that it had such crap on it so begin with.

Oh, well. At least we can't fly with lotion anymore.

(Link via today's American Progress Report.)