A FEMA document about nuclear explosions reveals the utter fatuousness of our bureaucracy
No matter the purpose for which they're established, bureaucracies often become ends in themselves, self-perpetuating entities that generate paper to justify their existence. That seems to be the case with FEMA, at least insofar as its rules for nuclear disasters go. Some poor desk drone was given the task of updating FEMA documents to reflect the CDC's ridiculous COVID requirements. That drone worked hard, with the result being that the FEMA guidelines for a nuclear explosion now include masks and social distancing in bomb shelters.
Once again, Libs of Tik Tok has the news on her irreplaceable Twitter account. She (or someone with whom she communicates) felt that, with Putin threatening to start a nuclear war, it might be useful to check out the government's guidance for responding to the fallout from a nuclear attack. That's how we learn that someone at FEMA laboriously updated FEMA guidelines with CDC requirements about social distancing and masks. And that's how we end up with these ludicrous advisories:
The "Nuclear Explosion" listing begins by giving helpful information about what to expect when the nuclear bomb goes off. Even though it's going to be very, very bad (damage, casualties, radiation, etc.), "you can keep your family safe by knowing what to do and being prepared if it occurs."
We then get a brief description of nuclear devices, the possibility that there'll be no warning before an attack, and the fact that fallout is most dangerous immediately after the bomb drops. However, there's a window of about 15 minutes during which people can seek shelter before radiation levels climb.
Once again, there's some practical information: get inside a building, with brick and concrete offering the most protection. Remove contaminated clothing or wipe contaminated skin, but "[d]o not use disinfectant wipes on your skin."
And then it gets silly:
Go to the basement or middle of the building. Stay away from the outer walls and roof. Try to maintain a distance of at least six feet between yourself and people who are not part of your household. If possible, wear a mask if you're sheltering with people who are not a part of your household. Children under two years old, people who have trouble breathing, and those who are unable to remove masks on their own should not wear them.
That's right. There you are, stuck in a dark, cramped cellar with 15 other people, and you all need to stay masked and well away from each other.
Nor does the nonsense stop there. If that nuclear attack has left you sick or injured, and assuming 911 still functions, you must continue those COVID precautions:
There’s more pic.twitter.com/V6opwX07g0— Libs of Tik Tok (@libsoftiktok) February 28, 2022
If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 and let the operating know if you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If you can, put on a mask before help arrives.
Moreover, you'd better remember at the height of a nuclear panic that some people are worrying about COVID:
Many people may already feel fear and anxiety about the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). The threat of a nuclear explosion can add additional stress.
Reading that, I felt as if I were on the Titanic reading the safety instructions:
In the event that the ship hits an iceberg, after notifying a crew member about your concerns for the ship's safety, remember to rearrange the deck chairs to form a more pleasing pattern for watching the spectacle as the ship sinks beneath the freezing waters.
I can just imagine the office drone sitting there slack-jawed as his immediate supervisor tells him, "You need to go through the entire FEMA manual and update each section to add appropriate instructions for COVID consistent with CDC guidance." Either the drone took those instructions seriously and literally, or he thought they were so ridiculous that he had his little joke when it came to the "nuclear explosion" section.
Either way, rather than being left with the impression that our government agencies are super on the ball and always doing what's necessary to protect us, I was left feeling that our government has become a dysfunctional byzantine institution that drowns people in convoluted rules, regulations, and information that serve no useful purpose other than to justify the various agencies' continued existence.
Image: Survival under Atomic Attack booklet. Public domain.