Australia: The State of Victoria is launching an investigation into Monday night’s freak Melbourne storm that is reported to have killed at least four people: death from asthma.
The storm whipped up a leath cocktail of pollen, dust and moisture that combined in a rare event to cause ‘Thunder Storm Asthma.’
The most common form of pollens are said to explode in the rapid atmospheric change (when a hot, moist day cooled suddenly, amid strong winds and storms).
The small pollen particles can embed further down the lungs cauing acute breathing distress. An Ambulance Victoria spokesman said all available Ambulance vehicles where called in with all Managers to assist after 6pm Monday.
As demand escalated dramatically, fire brigade and even police were called in to assist. Hospital ERs were overwhelmed with hundreds of respiratory complaints and pharmacies reportedly ran out of ventalin.
The Inspector-General of Emergency Management will lead a state-wide review of the emergency response to the thunderstorm asthma event that occurred on Monday 21 November.
The review will examine:
- The appropriateness and adequacy of the response under the Public Health Response Plan during events of 21 and 22 November, including the speed of escalation
- The Role of Emergency Management Victoria and the department in respect of this public health events, and adequacy of support provided to emergency and public health services
- Consideration of public warnings and health advice, taking account of predictability and preventive steps available for this type of event
Other relevant matters
- The review will be a thorough and extensive examination of how Victoria’s emergency services and health system responded to, and managed, this emergency, and will identify where things worked and where they didn’t.
It will thoroughly examine the lessons that need to be learnt, and ensure we put in place the right systems, resources and measures to better prepare for and respond to similar events in the future.
The Chief Health Officer sent out a belated health alert the day following the ‘disaster’:
Separately, the Government will also examine resourcing levels and consider whether extra resourcing is required, in addition to our significant investment in this year’s Victorian Budget 2016/17.
Work will commence on the review immediately, with a final report provided to the Government by late April 2017.
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy said;
“This was a health emergency of an unprecedented scale, and we have an obligation to ensure that we learn every lesson there is to learn from this event.”
“This review will make sure that should this, or an event of a similar scale, ever occur again we have the right systems, measures and resources in place to provide the very best response.”
“We will continue to invest in our health and ambulance services to make sure that whatever the situation, Victorians can have confidence that in an emergency they will get the care and treatment they need, when they need it.”