On October 13, 2014, Plane-ly Spoken addressed the idiot who said “I have ebola. You’re all screwed,” calling for him to go to jail. Events since that day, including the ebola exposed nurse from Texas who flew on Frontier Airlines, along with the monitoring of passengers arriving at five airports in the United States, has further raised concerns about the whole ebola issue, including how it impacts airline travel.
We’re not going to comment about ebola or even the Center for Disease Control, which currently finds itself under a media, public and Congressional microscope. What we are going to observe is that perhaps a lesson could be learned from how transportation safety is handled in the United States. The entire transportation industry in the United States — whether air, rail, sea or pipeline (yes. . . . pipeline) is safer because of the National Transportation Safety Board, recognized worldwide as the gold standard in the investigation of transportation accident and incidents. The NTSB doesn’t (and can’t) regulate or enforce. Instead, it investigates and recommends and, when their recommendations are not followed, they publicize and criticize.
Whatever else one can say, the existence of an independent agency does help improve oversight and safety. It has worked for transportaton. Similarly, the US Chemical Safety Board which, as its title suggests, is focused on the Chemical industry, is directly patterned on the NTSB and has helped improve safety in that industry.
The Congress should take a lesson from the aviation and transportation experience and create a Communicable Disease Safety Board or CDSB. They should, given what’s going on, recognize the that CDC, while well-meaning and sincere, appears to be, along with the Texas hospital, way behind the power curve on recent events.
An independent CDSB could, like, the NTSB, provide investigative expertise drawing from federal and state authorities, including CDC, HHS, EPA, FAA, the military, state health authorities, etc. as well as private companies. The existence of an “ouside agency” to investigate, recommend, and when necessary, criticize, might help matters. If the NTSB and CSB experiences are any measure, this is a no-brainer!
(Originally posted October 16, 2014)