War in Ukraine
How we intend to help those enduring the war in Ukraine is better understood in the context of the global threat toward a more unstable, and thus unreliable, world that we see emerging, and how we believe our efforts can best defend against this threat. And we are making progress toward that defense of civilians already in Ukraine.
The world has changed, and – from many angles – not for the better: A globally-impacting war, a resulting economic crisis, atrocities, crime, sociopathic behavior, the decline of democracy, and an overall rise in irrationality. And these are just a subset of problems that are all trending toward instability.
To enable the world to become better, we need to change the way people think.
- Though there are many free and independent people with a conscience around the globe (i.e., those who "count their own blessings" and want to indeed help others in some way every day), the challenge we face is making people care not only about freedom, but also about reliability, personal responsibility, and ultimately stability. And it has been shown throughout human history that it is during times of "fear of what lies ahead" that people tend to become more irrational.
- In addition, to get resilience and reliability throughout a group of people during wartime, everyone must be "force multiplied" since there is often too much to do in too little time.
- Simply put, a Cooperative HRO force multiplies people and resources. And it is an approach that can be the fastest way to help significantly – force multiplying what's already there in front of people, or available all around them.
- This means it can help in days and even hours, not in weeks or the sometimes excruciatingly long months until help arrives.
- Our approach, tested at the U.S. Air Force Base that developed the world's first "safety checklist" back in 1935 (back then, a base of the U.S. Army Air Corps), has been to offer of course safety checklists. But more importantly, we offer force multiplication enablers, such as the results from our predictive model simulators that are based on available data (i.e., not on data from entirely new systems that must be implemented), which help us understand where the greatest failure threats are – and are not (what we call "protected flanks") – so that we can suggest a better allocation of resources, manpower, and "thinking." This, in turn, can support those protective strategies, tactics, and contingency plans that offer a much stronger defense and resilience. This is force multiplication.
- A crucial end result we always seek from this force multiplication is the prevention of catastrophes that are in reality preventable – if people are able to do the right things on the checklist. And it must be done proactively, because our research has shown that often "if it's too urgent, it's too late" and increases risks and costs tremendously.
- In other words, problems (many of which are hidden from view, especially when they are cognitive in nature) must be seen and addressed far in advance in order to truly be cost-effective.
- And finally, the less tasks, resources, and people needed, the better. Basically, a "small footprint team" as it is known in the military, such as the Navy Seals or the Air Force's Critical Care Air Transport Team. This conserves what is already there – so that there is less need to bring in more. The advantages of this include: reducing requests for resources and manpower, minimizing training required, increasing overall readiness, less straining of local infrastructure, and getting less attention and negative responses from adversaries.
- Force multiplication has been the specialty of our researchers and inventors toward our charity's objectives of public safety, education, and scientific study. And this has led to the advantage of a Cooperative HRO: "Reach the goal of doing more with less, by harnessing the approach of less is more."
- Reducing "preventable deaths" is our primary focus in Ukraine, given that our charitable efforts center around preventing catastrophic errors, which is the goal of any High Reliability Organization. But we must make a difference – now. And fortunately, when things are at their worst in the world, cooperation and reliability can bring out the best in the world, as history showed during World War 2. It enables us to count on one another, for when it will inevitably be our turn to need help.
- However, changing the way people think is not only strategic in nature, it is also tactical all the way down to the individual. It should not require unrealistic, super-human efforts of each person every day, when each of those days can be frightening beyond words. We believe those of us not in Ukraine need to be the ones "in the simulator" as Ukrainians brave dangers continuously and don't necessarily have time to think through all the potential risks, possible solutions, and the often intricate details.
- Thus, we also want to ensure our quest for High Reliability is “feasible” – meaning we can reduce risks of failure with the currently available resources and the situation on the ground, not some ideal-world scenario that is simply not realistic for the current situation...
- How would we summarize what we do? HROC's past work in U.S. Defense has emphasized the tagline of: "Changing the way people think(R)" in order to reduce preventable deaths and preventable harm. Now, based on what our team has additionally learned from its Ukraine efforts, it has also realized that during significant adversity like that which Ukraine confronts: "When facing challenging processes, human performance is what turns mountains INTO molehills(SM)"
During these situations where uncertainty abounds, and people are low on resources and running out of time, our team has proven that a Cooperative High Reliability Organization can change the situation, because it changes the way people think. It predicts problems, including teamwork-oriented ones, and enables people to work together – and count on each other – more effectively by uniquely harnessing cognitive science to make them both "willing and able" to do what is critical to get done.
The war in Ukraine has taken a catastrophic toll on that nation, foremost in terms of the lives lost directly from the conflict. However, it has had a devastating impact on the people of the nation in other ways that are not as immediately visible, but nonetheless lead to further loss of life after the attacks occur, both near-term and long-term.
And the current situation in Ukraine?
- There are areas still under attack and where unspeakable acts are being committed on Ukrainian civilians, leading to panic and the forgetting of safety measures
- There are so many lives that have been taken, causing grief to families, friends, and the nation as a whole, contributing to depression, anxiety, and other mental harm to citizens
- There is so much devastation to not only critical infrastructure like energy, water, and public health which are required to save lives and defend the nation, but also to regular infrastructure like safe buildings and residences that help prevent further loss of life later, or where damage can actually create conditions that cost health and safety later
There are several objectives we want to maximize, given the likelihood of at least a protracted war, and perhaps a sudden, unpredictable escalation war:
- Survival in a war zone (by reducing preventable deaths, not the random ones from attacks)
- Surge capacity for refugees (in Poland and neighboring nations)
- Mass casualty prevention (by predicting and having feasible contingency plans within a Cooperative HRO)
- Civil defense (to help the frontline by serving as emergency support team, as well as not getting injured or falling ill, so as not to add to burdens on the frontline)
Toward these objectives, we have currently determined seven key initiatives that HROC will do to assist Ukraine. These currently-planned HROC Initiatives solve major assessed and predicted problems, and that have detailed plans developed. They are:
- Force multiplying scarce health resources to stretch every dollar, including medical support training of checklists and kits to improve cost-effectiveness of care and to add to civil defense in the nation’s resilience to attacks.
- Reducing the near-term and long-term health effects of "toxic dust" created by attacks, by expanding the scope and capabilities of a Covid-prevention solution we had recommended -- HROC's Invisible Mask Initiative.
- Having safer and fuel conserving delivery of critical goods to reduce risk to people’s lives as well as reduce gasoline and diesel consumed, by analyzing solutions and informing policymakers.
- Having safer and more rapid evacuation plans in the event of dramatic escalation in the war, using our Cooperative HRO model to reduce catastrophic errors, by analyzing solutions and informing policymakers.
- Protecting critical infrastructure via improved cybersecurity that focuses on human error and the mistakes caused by human vulnerabilities that most often (up to 90% by some estimates) lead to successful cyberattacks.
- Reducing threats of Russian Information Warfare inside and outside Ukraine, since maintaining public support outside Ukraine is critical to getting other nations' help.
- Learning how to withstand all forms of warfare in a changed world, since Ukrainians have acquired knowledge on how to survive physical and cyber attacks, and HROC’s work program, for Ukrainians to visit and work with our U.S. and Canadian teams, enables the rest of the world to work with those who have lived that experience.
In other words, our job will be supporting analysis and creative problem-solving for residents of the nation who simply have "more important and urgent things to worry about" and may not be able to remember or get done before it’s too late. Our point of view is that if it’s too urgent, it’s too late.
As noted in an article about the Cooperative High Reliability Organization (done by a peer reviewed journal, which in fact became the journal’s cover story), HROC’s ultimate goal is to increase reliability and resilience of any team segment of a population by making safety checklist implementation more feasible and cost-effective.
We do not simply want to give people more and more checklists to try and do, and then have them “overachieve” every day to get them done, since that is simply not sustainable. Safety must be enabled even – and especially – during the most difficult of circumstances. That is the purpose of a Cooperative HRO.
Our task force in the U.S. has already donated nearly $100,000 in pro bono time and their own money and resources to this effort. Moreover, many Advisory Board members, such as Terry Rajasenan and Jared Mort who helped spearhead the effort, will continue to provide their expertise in these initiatives pro bono in order to prevent future disasters within their expertise, as we do not want to look back in regret. We are hoping that others will want to contribute in some way, even if it is not financially.
MOST RECENT PROGRESS TO DATE
(Note that certain names are withheld at this time for security reasons.)
SUMMARY OF SUCCESSES (all in reverse chronological order, with most recent at top, and the entries on key dates providing detailed pictures, videos, and instructions)
Innovations our initiatives accomplished
to reduce a number of unmet needs in
public safety and health in Ukraine.
Current list is below:
- A Reliable Power Initiative (RPI), based on do-it-yourself (DIY) crank generators to charge smartphones (a lifeline in any disaster), instead of using gasoline-/diesel-powered portable generators in a disaster, especially to make the evacuations that Ukraine is facing more coordinated and safer. Relying on portable generators is unsafe, as they are too often scarce/expensive/targeted, impractical to carry and fuel them during evacuations (as evacuees will consist more of women and children), can't run safely in conditions like rain or snow, and dangerous given the carbon monoxide (harming near-term / long-term physical and mental health, and simply the ability to think). RPI is tied to our first major project – for the city of Irpin by request of the mayor to help with safer air, given how air composition can turn debilitating or even deadly. One case study is on “RPI as a critical link” enabling aid deliveries to continue to hundreds of recipients. Another case study is on educating most people, but especially students, on our "damaged drones to charge smartphones" initiative – showing how to create crank generators from not only broken drones but also many electric devices that most anyone can find in their homes or even in trash or scrapyards. Irpin's Mayor asked for our help on survival essentials like electricity that can avoid poor air (what we call “suboptimal air composition”) that could harm his residents, especially in shelters, and we don’t want to see Ukraine "mortgage its future" in terms of health and thinking capacity by significantly increasing carbon monoxide levels, since it is avoidable. Besides, getting people food (to give people energy to crank) is more beneficial and practical than getting carbon-based fuel in a disaster – especially since fuel is dangerous, while food is a helpful, if not necessary, item in many care packages. Coordinated successful evacuations will be critical, as everyone wants to reduce the possible targets and victims of sieges, brutality, and torture – as well as, of course, civilian deaths. STATUS: On the ground testing in Ukraine, with a mission to complete in Irpin and Kyiv before a likely re-invasion by Russia and thus likely exodus from cities surrounding Kyiv in the most safe, coordinated evacuation possible. This would not be possible without charged smartphones.
- Self-reliance through our human performance initiative to increase "cognitive bandwidth." This is to enhance or even enable better do-it-yourself (DIY) training and capabilities, whether for surviving disasters or improving lives daily. To more quickly raise people's "cognitive tipping points" (i.e., the narrow band between success or failure in any mental process), we are focusing first on innovations to address a hidden source of mental challenges to personal and public safety, which is "suboptimal air composition" (SAC) -- since good vs. bad air literally changes the way people think. SAC is both dangerous for near-term and long-term survival of people in Ukraine, but also in any disaster worldwide. Near-term dangers of SAC are task saturation and thus varying degrees of panic / paralysis (i.e., "freezing" instead of performing), as well as lowered immunity. Long-term dangers are the physical damage like chronic cardiac conditions and also permanent neurological damage and thus reduced ability to think, remember, and solve problems quickly and effectively. Life when under duress is far harder to navigate than if people have more time (and "bandwidth") to think and they also have basic resources like unpolluted air (e.g., carbon emissions from portable generators actually affects cellular metabolism adversely, including at the brain). Bottom line: If people don't mentally prepare, they won't physically prepare to be able to be more self-reliant when they need to save themselves and others. STATUS: On the ground testing in Ukraine, with a mission for scientific study planned by HROC's Chief Scientist.
- Cooperative HRO civil defense support DIY training – Our "Remote Force Multiplication" team maximizes the positive impact support teams on the ground can make, while minimizing errors, of overwhelmed, overworked, and limited staff and resources -- like we did in U.S. Defense Health care teams. The training videos from the webinars include subtitles, since people can't play them at volume when hiding in shelter. STATUS: On the ground and in the field in Ukraine given our 4-person team in our office there (which is growing with new advisors also being helped by our resources). This team is doing not only instruction but also life-saving deliveries to, and rescues of, people in need -- including in active war zones. This has helped support hundreds of people, such as with food and medicine, and also with energy sources.
- Respiratory infection and inflammation DIY kit assembly – Our "Remote Prevention" team has expertise in preventing serious infections (like we did in U.S. Defense Health) that would otherwise consume scarce and costly x-ray or radiology equipment, as well as require ventilators/ICUs. Also critical is its ability to reduce the use of medications when not beneficial, as well reduce the time of clinical teams who are overloaded and burning out already. The same approach can be used in preventing inflammation from toxins, which can also lead to cancers and other long-term afflictions like those experienced by 9/11 first responders in the U.S., by monitoring for toxic dust on black surfaces. STATUS: On the ground in use in Ukraine, having helped not only our current team but also the clusters of people they meet, such as in shelters.
- Improvised power using do-it-yourself (DIY) – HROC’s Remote Rapid Response team is similar to a simulation team. It is used to problem solve based on conditions on the ground. In this case, it determined how to use disabled engines and motorized appliances in disaster zones to be sources of power to help civil defense (e.g., using an alternator-to-generator conversion process) which can be attached to bicycle frames, or even wind or water turbines, to generate power anywhere. STATUS: On the ground testing of design in Ukraine.
- Crank generator and smartphones for shelters’ civil defense – HROC developed a "new innovation" for reliable power in underground shelters (using creative problem solving from situational analysis, given importance of smartphones in shelters to learn survival tactics and safety measures). These crank generators can also offer a more practical way to charge at night, and also at higher wattages. Is necessary to charge drones that enable early warnings and also offer ability to deliver small supplies like medicines in dangerous areas. STATUS: Our delivery of our initial hand-crank generator for charging of smartphones is in the field in Ukraine.
- Protective wear with add-ons – HROC Team members and their contacts created a supply line and distribution network, and with an HROC "new innovation" of protective metal placement as an add-on to ensure higher reliability given Russian weaponry being used in the field. This was done by using creative problem solving from our situational analysis, and is being applied initially to help improve the safety of Ukrainian logistics support teams. STATUS: Our delivery of protective wear and protective DIY techniques are in the field in Ukraine.
- Solar chargers – HROC Advisory Board members created a supply line and distribution network for this critical item to charge smartphones, laptops, and mobile water purification systems. Power is needed for various tools for public safety and public health, so solar power were welcome innovations to bring to those on the move in Ukraine where the electric grid is unavailable. This delivery of solar chargers also led to our new HROC office in Kyiv, a supply line from Medyka Poland to Kyiv, and a supply line from Kyiv to Eastern and Southern Ukraine. STATUS: Our delivery of solar generators, especially to charge critical smartphones, is in the field in Ukraine.
(Note that any orange text on this page is a hyperlink that provides more detail, evidence, or explanation on the topic)
1/20/23: "Preparing for the worst: Enabling a “rapid response” evacuation – one with all the key essentials for survival and contingency plans for other major problems – may be necessary in order to avoid repeating the horrors seen during the siege of Mariupol (which our team has memorialized with an “In Memoriam” video). We now have a case study of an actual example showing how to ensure quicker yet more prepared evacuations for Ukrainians, and how to help those seeking to survive each day by enabling more reliable electricity. The diagrams shown below can quickly help explain how. If you would like to help sponsor this project, please donate at this link here."
WHERE: THE SITUATION CURRENTLY IN ALL OF
UKRAINE – AND ITS ALLIES
- The recent news of NATO nations agreeing to consider sending tanks to Ukraine, when they have refused for so long, could have been viewed as a game-changing, welcome development for helping the nation defend itself.
- However, the timing of the announcement also alerted people to a more disturbing assessment – a likely dangerous escalation is on the near-term horizon (possibly February or March, but sometime this spring is the consensus). It would probably in the form of a re-invasion of the northern parts of Ukraine, this time from Belarus (around 60 miles from our Kyiv office), in an effort to take Kyiv and install a new pro-Russia national government in Ukraine.
- Ukraine has survived intact as a nation and with much less carnage than expected when the war first started, thanks to an initial failed invasion on Kyiv, an unexpectedly mild winter helping it and the West during an energy war, reduced economic headwinds from gradually-taming inflation, not facing a recession as yet (at least in the U.S.), and also smaller than expected gains by Ukraine’s opponents in the 2022 U.S. election for the House of Representatives.
- However, the current forecast is now fraught with additional perils, as inflation is expected to increase again with China's reopening coupled with its expected Covid surge, a recession is looking more likely as job losses mount (and some insist it is coming). And that is before we consider the implications of a potential U.S. government default on its debt -- when even when the last one was averted, U.S. Treasury debt was downgraded, implying higher borrowing costs for the Federal Government and less money for defense, healthcare, Social Security, and other programs. This is as Russia does covert and open mobilization, again massing troops along the border, with most Ukrainians already feeling exhausted (in Bakhmut, “hellishly tired” they say) – and anxious, as a U.S. poll shows 52% of Republicans oppose further Ukraine funding.
- And though fewer in number than expected, the House appears to be led by some of the most vocal anti-Ukraine Congressional members. Even the CIA director recently briefed Pres. Zelenskyy on how long Ukraine could expect U.S. and Western assistance to continue following Republicans’ takeover of the House and a drop-off in support of Ukraine aid among parts of the U.S. electorate. All of this adds fuel to the question of if the West is ready for a long war.
- Thus, cuts may be coming to how much assistance Ukraine can hope to get in the future.
- But we believe cuts will be less likely in defense and instead more likely on the lifesaving humanitarian side. The reasoning is that Republicans have a considerable number of defense hawks that are loathe to cut defense spending, especially that can actively weaken our military opponents (e.g., that of the growing alliance between Russia and China), so military aid can be seen as following the “fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here” maxim.
- So, these CUTS will LIKELY be in HUMANITARIAN items that help in survival, like essentials of communication, warmth, and health, where a narrow vision of “America First” politicians will want money spent only in the U.S., regardless of the fact that fighting Russia means less risk and cost later to our own soil, as we found in World War 2 as the Nazis advanced and took over armies and resources along the way that only strengthened their menace.
- Thus, public safety and health "survival essentials" of electricity, heat, and air composition are all going to be rising in need from the humanitarian partners of Ukraine, coupled with Ukraine’s own growing SELF-RELIANCE in those areas if we can implement our approach throughout the nation (i.e., our Checklist & Procedures for Survival Essentials, in our prior progress update).
- And the threats to survival have increased to levels not seen since the beginning of the war. For example, the Dnipro residential building destruction shows that there are no limits on Russian civilian attacks, and that there are in reality no safe havens in Ukraine. One news agency noted that what makes the Dnipro attack particularly repulsive is that it struck in the heart of a city that had been regarded as a safe haven for internally displaced people (IDPs) since hostilities by Russia started in 2014. With a warhead of nearly one metric ton, it created a scene of destruction described by some in Dnipro as “hell.” The shock could very well create a second generation of IDPs, placing additional strain on already congested safe havens such as Lviv in western Ukraine (and, in HROC’s opinion, thus more inviting clusters for Russia to attack).
- Moreover, Bakhmut shows that encirclement and sieges are still a tactic today by Russia, not just at the beginning of the war in Mariupol. Civilians become pawns in the battle and become leverage by Russia to force Ukraine to navigate either defending the nation or saving their own people trapped mercilessly in cities. At some point, it also becomes so horrific as to demoralize people, perhaps not in Ukraine, but certainly on even well-meaning people witnessing the atrocities or suffering (e.g., according to the U.N., children continue to be killed, wounded and deeply traumatized by the violence all around them, and families have been separated and lives torn apart in Ukraine) from afar and wanting it to stop, no matter what the price. This leads to indecision on the part of allies, as fractures emerge in NATO itself on how best to help Ukraine.
- Bottom line is that we must avoid people becoming clustered, encircled, trapped, and made easy targets for relentless bombings with no escape. This requires THINKING AHEAD.
- There was also the blow to civil defense this past week as the Ukrainian Interior Ministry leaders died in a helicopter crash near Kyiv. The Minister rose to the challenge of rallying international support for Kyiv's fightback when Russia launched its invasion in 2022, giving interviews to the world's press warning of a "humanitarian catastrophe" and highlighting the challenges faced by Ukraine's emergency services (which comes under the interior ministry's control). The Ministry oversees the National Police of Ukraine, National Guard of Ukraine, other functions, but most pertinently, State Emergency Service of Ukraine (civil defense). Thus, with the loss of national, experienced leaders in the helicopter crash, civil defense will need more local leadership.
- Ukraine undoubtedly has courage, but in 2023 will most likely find itself needing to rely more and more on resourcefulness and resilience -- that is, using what it has available at the local levels, and being able to as self-reliant as possible within its network of remarkable people defending one another in the face of dangers beyond comprehension even to those helping who fought in wars like Iraq and Afghanistan (e.g., where they could at least rely on air support).
- These are individuals who may not be losing their bravery to defend and survive against all odds, but they are eroding physically (as many as 60% of Ukrainians could enter poverty this year according to the World Bank as Ukraine’s economy contracted by 35% in 2022; also heavy fighting produced disastrous levels of air, soil, and water pollution), mentally (25% of the population will develop mental-health conditions), and invariably with that erosion will come the emotional toll which hammers at the critical will to fight in a war to defend one’s nation.
- This is all in spite of Ukrainians, and most of the leaders of the free world, recognizing that Ukrainians fight for survival is also the fight for freedom for both Ukraine and for democracies defending against tyrannies all over world.
WHO: HROC-UKRAINE AND HROC-USA
- Given the stakes, our teams at the High Reliability Organization Council (HROC), one team in Ukraine, and the other team in the U.S., have one single primary mission: preparation.
- Based on seeing what is happening on the ground in Ukraine, and what people are facing (as well as what is seen in their faces), that can help Ukrainians survive and defend their nation – it is by being ready for foreseeable and likely disasters-in-waiting (preventing catastrophic loss is key to any High Reliability Organization, especially from not only doing the wrong thing, but also from not doing the right thing in time).
- Our approach follows the proverb of, “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.” And it is through our training seminars (used by the U.S. Department of Defense), training and promotional videos, and documentaries that we educate – while using unique methods to make sure people become reliable at what they learn, and thus self-reliant in what they need to do in order to make changes quickly.
- Even if the will to fight -- and the will to win -- are there, a quote by a famous basketball coach summarized it best: "The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to PREPARE to win."
- From the start of our mission to Ukraine, we have been concerned with finding ways for people to survive locally wherever they are – both at home and when they are on the move.
- We believe our Ukraine office can't rely on getting enough resources from outside the nation to enough people inside Ukraine in time, so a "go-locally-sourced DIY" approach is the only option now, especially for maintaining the vital communication link of smartphones at this moment.
- This then also enables people to harness smartphones to evacuate in the quickest and safest way, before people can become trapped in a nightmare beyond belief, which is a siege where people are then choked off from the basics for survival (e.g., the siege of Mariupol).
- This month, as the war grinds on during the historically colder parts of winter, we expect more energy and critical infrastructure to be destroyed by Russia faster than it can be fixed or parts replenished, meaning:
- 1. More electricity coming from carbon monoxide-spewing portable generators will be in use, polluting the air – and where even low-levels of the carbon monoxide (CO) impairs people’s minds and bodies, reducing ability to think and prepare. It also means a greater need for alternative sources of electricity, since portable generators are scarce and very expensive.
- 2. More heating coming from sources of wood that are more difficult (e.g., farther), more dangerous (e.g., in unknown areas that could be mined, or using wetter wood that burns worse and with more carbon monoxide), and leading to more coal burning, also releasing more CO.
- Pres. Zelenskyy recently requested that businesses in Ukraine help set up Points of Invincibility (POI) in greater numbers around Ukraine. HROC can obviously help POIs seeking to address areas such as suboptimal air composition, which we view as a significant barrier to safety. But we do not plan to do full POIs ourselves, since we are not optimal (i.e., builders) for that.
- However, we can instead create various models of “partial-POI” shelters, and the standards for what is needed inside them and to what degree, with our checklists. We are then giving that to the mayor of Irpin to help health and safety of POIs in that city, while also helping in the DIY of partial-POIs elsewhere in the city. We’re donating HROC expertise and scientific effort to Irpin, while we also try and do more fundraising and economic development on its behalf. Thus, HROC is a charitable NGO trying to help set up these partial-POIs anywhere, and also set up what we call In-House Safety Areas (IHSAs) to serve as reasonably reliable shelters-on-the-go (given there are less subway-like shelters as you go further away from Kyiv), and finally the evacuation packs (“EvacPacs”) that enable the stationary partial-POIs and the mobile IHSAs.
WHY EVACUATION PREP IS SO URGENT
- The moment we are in is being considered the pivotal moment in the war by many. And we believe this moment is indeed that, and for many reasons. However, we have discovered some reasons that are hidden from plain view, as they are found inside the human mind.
- As background, the threat of deadly escalation reminiscent to the war’s early days was also reinforced by the news the past week that Ukraine is prepares for a new invasion by Russia and Belarus as they begin joint drills. To quote, "amid reports of Russian troops and armor pouring into Belarus...Belarus and Russia began joint military exercises, adding to fears that Moscow will use its ally to launch a new ground offensive, as it did the invasion in 2022. Air force drills will be held until Feb. 1 using all of Belarus' military air fields and joint army exercises involving a 'mechanized brigade subdivision,' the Belarusian defense ministry said."
- This puts our HROC-Ukraine team, who is in the Kyiv area, at risk, since Kyiv will be the city that is the top target of Russia – as well as Irpin, which is even closer to Belarus (only 87 miles, or 140 km) where the mayor has asked for our help, and is our first major aid project.
- Others are believing also that not only could see Russia launch a ferocious new offensive, but also – given a Russian cruise missile attack on a nine-story apartment block in Dnipro, in central Ukraine, that killed 45 people including six children – that any hopes for a negotiated end to the war are more distant than ever. “We are facing the collapse of the world as we know it, the way we are accustomed to it or to what we aspire,” said Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska at the World Economic Forum. This war will, in the best case, likely last a long time.
- Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, told CNN that the West had to do much more, especially in the aftermath of the Dnipro attack. Russia is not relenting on what it’s doing, Putin is mobilizing more forces. Putin is planning for another offensive,” he said. Biden’s legacy in Ukraine – considered one of the most significant and so far successful US foreign policy ventures in decades – depends on continuing to bankroll and arm Zelensky’s forces for as long as a conflict with no end in sight lasts, likely to create continuing problems and friction with Russia and the new people in U.S. Congress against Ukraine aid.
- This brings us to the first reason for an “evacuation rapid response” – a new ground invasion.
- The paradox for Ukraine is that Russia can, and likely will, continue to swing from desperate, to overconfident, to calculatingly deliberate. Our HROC-USA team has modeled Russian behavior not only on the field but also in the information warfare space, and forewarned our team what to expect, and has been correct at least 75% of the time in terms of significant risks and trajectories. For example, we stated during the summer that the winter would be when Putin would try and win the war – and use brutality to do it. This proved correct, not matter how easy it was for some (but surprisingly few, as noted by our team) in Ukraine to foresee.
- Moreover, we also noted that given how angry Putin seemed to be about the victory of the Ukrainians on the battlefield against the bunkers of troops, possibly removing 700 or more troops from the battlefield, he would respond likely with a new wave of severe attacks on civilians. He not only responded by moving hypersonic missiles closer to Ukraine (which have little to no time for air raid sirens to give advance warning nor for anti-missile defenses to block the attacks), but also committed the atrocity of the largest attack away from the frontlines since the opening days of the war (Dnipro), happening within 2 weeks of the Russian barracks bombing.
- In fact, hypersonic missiles are another reason why evacuation away from at least Kyiv and Irpin may become the safest option. Most early warning systems (EWS) and missile defenses won’t work effectively against hypersonic missiles. At less than 90 miles from Belarus to Irpin and Kyiv outskirts (as little as 60 miles “as the crow flies”), and at a missile speed of 6,000 kilometers per hour (around Mach 5; others say it flies at Mach 9 or even Mach 10), this means less than 2 minutes (actually 1.4 minutes, or 0.7 minutes if Mach 10 – that is, only 42 seconds) of advance warning from missile detection.
- This can then create even more of a “too much to do in too little time” (given the shorter lead time). Our research shows this is a recipe for task saturation and panic, leading to fatal errors. Unless people want to live full-time in the shelters, it is extremely unsafe and thus difficult to avoid panic, since there is no time to get from one's residence down into a shelter – and any attempts would likely lead to even more of a stampede and falls or trampling injuries or deaths.
- NATO could try and respond to a threat such as hypersonic missiles, or other Russian military technology escalation, with even greater military transfers to Ukraine to help defend the millions of Ukrainian citizens at risk. But with Britain complaining about fellow NATO member Germany’s delays on tanks, and even the U.S. concerned about “solvency” risk (i.e., indefinite U.S. military support for Ukraine will meaningfully limit the Pentagon’s own supply of armaments, and as a former commander responded with concern: “I wouldn’t say we’re quite there yet, but if the conflict does go on for another six months, for another year, it certainly continues to stress the supply chain).
- This makes an additional argument for why evacuation may be the best course of action in the event of extreme, violent escalation by Russia – being able to get Ukrainians to NATO nations quickly and under their “nuclear umbrella” would greatly reduce the preventable deaths, and it would require less weapons to defend civilians in Ukraine if they are in a NATO nation.
- Otherwise, the U.S. losing its weapon solvency is where U.S. politicians that are defense hawks would switch to actually not wanting to provide Ukraine more aid. And if Russia waits till the weather warms to invade, it may actually make it easier to have Poland and other nations help Ukrainians in refugee camps (e.g., not having to worry about heating and too much strain on their own nations’ critical infrastructure, especially if refugees bring their own electricity) – that is, timing may actually work for us if it is actually spring before Russia launches its re-invasion.
- Paradoxically, increasing NATO weaponry may also lead to another reason evacuation may become more urgent. The reason is because Putin has been a reactive, if not rash, leader, with decisions depending on battlefield reversals. For example, after Ukrainian forces retook Kharkiv in a bold September counteroffensive, Putin hastily “annexed” four regions where Russia’s hold was precarious. After Ukrainian special operations forces bombed the Kerch Strait bridge to Crimea in October, a desperate Putin launched a missile assault on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure that continues to this day. Another example of why cities Russia wants, but can't get, could likely face civilian atrocities and deadly ruin is Kherson city, which Ukraine liberated and now Russia is destroying, including striking the city’s children’s hospital.
- General Valery Gerasimov, the chief of staff of the Russian military, this month was given the thankless task of directing Russian forces in Ukraine. Since Gerasimov helped plan the botched invasion last February, this might seem like doubling down on failure. But U.S. analysts believe that Gerasimov has promised his boss, President Vladimir Putin, that he will employ more aggressive tactics to regain the initiative.
- BOTTOM LINE is Putin will get even more aggressive and brutal with this new director of forces.
- This means time is not on Ukraine's side, unless there is a game changer. That game changer, we believe, can be based on innovative defenses that build resilience and reliability, and enable all current and potential allies to withstand acts of aggression that lead to calamitous disaster zones, especially by opponents that do not hesitate to commit war crimes.
- Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice are both convinced that Putin believes time is on his side – that he can wear down the Ukrainians and that U.S. and European unity and support for Ukraine will eventually erode and fracture (and though the Russians will suffer as the war continues, they have endured far worse). If he can’t win this year, he will feel he must retain control of positions in eastern and southern Ukraine that provide future jumping-off points for renewed offensives to take the rest of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, control the entire Donbas region and then move west. Much of its mineral wealth, industrial capacity and considerable agricultural land are under Russian control. Ukraine’s military capability and economy are now dependent almost entirely on lifelines from the West (primarily the United States). But the economies of the world (including the U.S.) have seen inflation and a drag on growth caused by Putin’s aggression and, unaccustomed to it, will have political pressure, as well as economic. Under current circumstances, any negotiated cease-fire would leave Russian forces in a strong position to resume their invasion whenever they are ready.
- Their recommendation is that NATO members also should provide the Ukrainians with longer-range missiles, advanced drones, significant ammunition stocks (including artillery shells), more reconnaissance and surveillance capability, and other equipment – with these capabilities being delivered in weeks, saying it is better to stop him now, before more is demanded of the United States and NATO as a whole. They note NATO has a determined partner (Ukraine) that is willing to bear the consequences of war so that NATO does not have to do so itself in the future.
- All of the above brings us to second reason for evacuation rapid response – Ukraine’s battlefield successes, or Ukraine’s increasing battlefield strength of (i.e., from NATO).
- The third reason is that in recent months, the Ukrainian government has also discussed evacuating the city if there is a collapse of the electrical grid.
- And a collapsing energy grid seems to be the trajectory, considering it has been considered on the brink already recently, and moreover the trendline is worsening each month with continued Russian bombardment of critical infrastructure, as replacement parts become more difficult to get and put in place to fix the grid each time.
- Energy infrastructure losses have grown from 30% in October within just a couple weeks of week of attacks, to 40% damage in November, to about 50% energy infrastructure lost or damaged at the beginning of 2023.
- Moreover, the Ukrainian electricity company CEO admits that the Iranian Shahed-136 drone just as deadly as Russian cruise missiles against the nation's electrical grid. This means Russia can continue the attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure, even if Russian inventory of missiles and drones would run low and production capacity in Russia couldn't keep up.
- In fact, the collapse of Ukraine's energy infrastructure could happen at any second, says the mayor of Kyiv, which would then imply (based on the government plans) that the evacuation of Kyiv (and likely its surrounding suburbs, like Irpin) could happen very quickly.
- Given all this, beyond a government-mandated evacuation from energy grid collapse such as in Kyiv, if there is indeed a re-invasion, it likely means that some people will want to evacuate.
- Above are the three reasons to evacuate. Now for the two nightmare scenarios that would result if evacuation becomes necessary and people are not prepared, and they fail to get to safety.
- First, in a panicked evacuation that can’t be coordinated (e.g., if smartphones are rendered inoperable to guide and warn people), people could end up moving toward greater Russian danger, or not be aware of/prepared for what they will face during a journey to greater safety.
- Second, we believe – given Russia's tactic of sieges (used against Mariupol and Bakhmut) – that all civilians should be ready, willing, and able to evacuate areas being reinvaded in the north (such as our initial focal-point city of Irpin, given the city’s needs outlined to us by its mayor for our winter mission) by a joint a Russia-Belarus military force. The reason is that the alternative to evacuation is to face a siege and thus likely be deprived of basic necessities such as food, water, power, and medicines, to the point of desperation given the lack of conscience shown by Russia thus far in the war, as well as its eagerness to end the war before sanctions begin to really take hold this spring once the winter heating crisis subsides for the West and as they reduce further their reliance on Russian energy. But if people fail to evacuate, they will be trapped in a possible siege scenario. And likely at least some portion will fail to leave in time, and have to rely even more on smartphone communications in order to arrange an escape.
- Therefore, we are focusing on civilians’ self-reliance, to both quickly and safely evacuate – and reduce risks to survival to those trapped during a siege. This can also reduce the preventable harm, suffering, and deaths that would occur in hundreds of thousands of people that would become internally displaced or fleeing out of the nation. If the latter occurs, it would create the need to help refugees further that seek safety outside the nation, where they may have to travel for long distances, perhaps even by foot for significant portions of their journey.
- And most of these evacuees will be women and girls (65% according to a key estimate, and even unaccompanied children according to news we have heard).
- There are those who will, of course, bravely defy the Russians, reducing our ability to achieve our outcome, which is a safe evacuation. But isn’t it often considered courageous if a person stays in place to defy the Russians? Yes, and that may work for some, but not for all. More importantly, once the window to evacuate passes, it may never return, as many people in Mariupol discovered in the harshest possible way. It can also consume inordinate resources (or concessions or trades with Russia) later to defend near-term or evacuate later when the situation becomes untenable, which also happened in Mariupol. In addition, even if an individual wants to stay, that can still result in worry by other people, including beyond loved ones (often daughters of elderly parents). This then wears down or demoralizes (when morale is crucial in a war of attrition) them when Russian brutality claims more victims.
- Being prepared for speedy and safe evacuation is the ultimate defense, not just to save lives of a nation (the key role of any defense) but to also prevent Russia from taking more hostages as leverage in negotiations or to break people's will. The fewer loved ones or people in immediate danger, the more courageous focused defenders of the nation can actually be in the face of a brutal and remorseless enemy. One need only look at what Stalin did in his police state: he’d threaten brave people's loved ones in order to get submission, even as he killed as many as 20 million or more Soviets – millions of them at that time being Ukrainians who lost their lives.
WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT GENERALLY
IN EVAC PREP
- We believe the most important capabilities will be in “physical energy” (i.e., electricity, especially for smartphones above all else) – but first “mental energy” in the form of cognitive bandwidth to learn, prepare for, and implement at the moment of crisis the steps needed to survive.
- All the potential causes of, and effects from, the need to evacuate noted in the section above mean that Ukrainians must have the essentials to survive an evacuation (or evac for short), but the prerequisites for capabilities of these survival essentials are they must be: 1. Feasible (i.e., it needs to be cost-effectively and time-effectively completed), 2. Portable (i.e., can't be heavy or bulky when people are having to be mobile), and 3. Reliable (i.e., people must be able to count on it in an emergency).
- This is the nature of our "HROC Ukraine Winter Mission" – having Ukrainians create their own capabilities to survive even during a rapid evacuation, with what we call “lifesaving self-reliance” based on do-it-yourself (DIY) High Reliability.
- These capabilities to survive are also needed even before an evacuation, given that about 16 million Ukrainians have had to leave their homes so far (internally displaced inside Ukraine, or refugees outside the nation, and possibly in camps or makeshift communities. And up to 18 million people, or 40% of Ukraine’s population, will need humanitarian aid in some form in the coming months.
WHAT IS MOST VITAL SPECIFICALLY
IN EVAC PREP
- Based on the experience of our team living inside Ukraine, there is nothing that is more valuable to survival than operable smartphones (including first and foremost having power, since Starlink or WiFi can help even if the cellular network goes down), and there are many reasons for their importance. For example, without a smartphone, people lose the following advantages to help them in survive in a disaster zone:
- 1. Receiving warnings and alerts (e.g., attack or disaster happening) for immediate problems.
- 2. Communication with loved ones to get them help they may need (or you may need from them), or at least not worry about them as much (since anxiety reduces wastes cognitive bandwidth and lowers human performance).
- 3. Information on how to solve problems (which can be stored on the phone), or at least get guidance of what to immediately do and not do. Or actually solving problems, like a working flashlight, clock/timer/alarm, camera, etc. All of these capabilities are available to some degree, whether a cellular network is available or not).
- 4. Awareness of risks that may be coming in the future to help plan whether and how to prepare (e.g., like Russian troops seen in the area and the need to hide).
- 5. A computer-like device to get on Internet for some, which may be the only means to buy and pay for things (e.g., via PayPal, Venmo, etc.).
- 6. Law enforcement quick access, which typically increases criminal activity, since victims can't call police, and neither can those around those victims, without functioning smartphones.
- 7. Low-power consumption (only 5 to 10 watts) device for computing, forcing people to use more power-intensive laptop computers (about 30 watts or more often needed), assuming they have one. And if no laptop, besides increased power consumption, there is also reduced mobility if have to rely on desktop computers at home, libraries, Internet cafes, etc. – making smartphones especially critical during an evacuation. And of course, the worst case is no computing device at all.
- Important note: Our team in Ukraine believes they are all still using regular cell towers, not Starlink (which is mostly being used by troops). However, even if cell towers are destroyed, locations may set up Starlink to then have people with phones communicate by accessing WiFi networks. Hence the reason always-charged smartphones are always valuable.
HOW: THE MENTAL PROCESS AND PHYSICAL
IMPLEMENTATION FOR PREP
- For electricity, as we had noted in our 1/5/23 progress update (which is the next website entry below), the Ukrainian government has requested the world to send it as many portable generators as possible. However, these machines have many problems in a disaster, such as not being truly portable when evacuating on a scooter, bike, or on foot, or even in smaller or already-filled cars. Portable generators also require costly diesel or gasoline as fuel which may be costly or scarce. They are too expensive for many to buy – or even keep. A problem with portable generators around the world during disasters, precisely because they have to be far away from the residence, is theft, with some even saying “out of all of the items in your house, you probably won’t find anything as expensive that’s as easy to steal!”). They are not safely operable in wet conditions (as they must be operated outdoors). And, above all, they emit dangerous quantities of deadly carbon monoxide – on average 1.5 kilograms per hour as they run (more than a 400-car traffic jam).
- HROC’s Ukraine Winter Mission is less about winter cold now than enabling an effective and safe evacuation – one that reduces preventable deaths and suffering – whether evacuation is due to a critical infrastructure collapse or to Russian re-invasion from Belarus. We believe that electricity for smaller electronic devices is the quickest major battle that civilians can win. But preparation must be soon – and if people don't mentally prepare, they won't physically prepare.
- A key concern is that this re-invasion could occur as early as February, creating widespread panic if the ferocity of Russia’s offensive is as terrible as we predict (and as this war’s history suggests), if people are not prepared survive when internally displaced and forced to become mobile. Survival when migrating to safer areas for those not actively involved in the fighting will be critical, including to the morale for those who are defending the nation on any of the frontlines, since rescue of civilians also can put troops in more difficult situations.
- Thus, HROC’s efforts this winter for a critical checklist started with the concept of a safer, more truly portable generator that we have tested as “reliable power” for the most essential electrical device in Ukraine – the smartphone.
- Even if there is not a sudden need for an evacuation, whether from invasion, collapse of the power grid, or a sadistic retaliatory rain of bombs from a Putin angered by battlefield losses, there is still a “slow bleed” of the energy infrastructure (which at this rate will still eventually lead to a total loss of power) due to very visible targets that are relatively few in number. What can work for more resilient and reliable power, rather than the cycle repeating of destroying and fixing the grid, as replacement parts run out and the pace of destruction seems to increase?
- Our researchers' DARPA work, where much of our current innovations in reliability originated, is instructive. That work was to make a more resilient and reliable network of computers. The goal was to protect against Kremlin-launched attacks directed toward “information retrieval” server infrastructure back then, to prevent complete failure and ensure access to critical data at all times. This is called fault tolerance, which enables a system to continue operating properly in the event of the failure of one or more faults within some of its components. In our present-day work, this fault tolerance includes not only computing devices (i.e., smartphones), but also even something more fundamental for human survival today – electricity-generating infrastructure.
- In all our projects, we have employed some form of “load balancing” in order to reduce clusters of nodes that become failure points. To make a resilient network, one must use distributed systems that can make things or people more self-correcting and thus self-reliant (as an aside, this is actually the same principle as a plane’s autopilot, which uses 3 parallel computers and takes instruction from any 2 that agree at any given time). We intend to help make resilient networks – one for smartphones serving up information/communications, and another for drones serving up supplies. To accomplish this, we will help implement distributed power systems, supplementing the centralized power system that is a much easier target for Russian bombings. We will strive to help all cities in Ukraine, but especially those at risk of needing a rapid response evacuation to save lives (e.g., Irpin and Kyiv) and use our DIY crank generators to accomplish this fault tolerance in electricity generation.
- In short, the project is for the lifeline and (electric) power to evacuate safely. Moreover, they say "knowledge is power" – and without cognition there is no knowledge. With the above, we have described the physical energy vital component. Now for the mental energy, explained below.
- As our 1/5/23 progress update also explained, there is significant preparation that must be done in order to reduce the risk of these preventable deaths. However, we also noted that preparation itself is not a “hand wave” of magic – it is most often a challenging process. And for many reasons, but fundamentally cognitive and psychological, the starting of – and completing – of these processes is the first and foremost objective.
- This is where “preparation runs into procrastination.” This includes even for the essentials to survival preparation we are teaching, which uses locally-available, or even household, items and resources and can be done in a DIY manner – all to help families survive. This preparation needed to start yesterday, so to speak, but we’ll all settle for as soon as possible.
- Our research on the notion of procrastinating is that it is both a willpower (and thus dopamine) issue and then also a “horizon vision” issue of both seeing problems and their dangers at a distance, as well as solutions and their value from a distance. Both of these issues need bandwidth to see a decision tree (i.e., the “if this, then this…” and “connect the dots” done when reasoning and problem-solving) and the action plan needed as a result of these decisions. It also requires having the motivation to power through the decision tree, and the impulse control to not become distracted from making it through to the end of the process.
- As one researcher (and clinical psychologist) states, despite the common misperception, laziness usually isn’t the reason behind procrastination. “Laziness is like, ‘I have absolutely no desire to even think about this.’ Procrastination is, ‘It troubles me to think about this. And therefore, it’s hard for me to get the job done.’ That’s a big difference.” Visualization works,” the expert said. “If you can visualize yourself completing (a task), then it becomes more achievable simply because you have an idea that it can be done.” At the end of the day, how you approach life is “all about your belief system,” the expert said. “If you believe you can, you can. If you believe you cannot, you can’t. So whatever you believe, you’re right.”
- But HROC’s own research suggests that you cannot visualize the synthesizing of a project, nor can you visualize doing all its tasks to completion and a desirable outcome, without cognitive bandwidth. In short, before you can do the physical preparation, you must do the mental preparation. Hence, this is the reason that we are focusing on cognitive bandwidth first.
- For our team in Ukraine, this involved having them study our past research on how to attain High Reliability, similar to what HROC researchers and trainers had taught Military personnel. It then included actually identification of problems related to tipping points, such as blood air gases and conditions (e.g., hypoxemia), which then led us to air composition (e.g., toxic dust, pathogens, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, etc.), and then doing changes to their surroundings or routines that could mitigate the adverse impact and resulting cognitive impairment. This helped get them mentally prepared (and in fact was what our team informed the mayor of Irpin in the interview where he requested help from our team and acknowledged the risks of poor or dangerous air composition, and the need to address that first and foremost). With the mental strength that arises from better air, this can then lead to addressing the physical capabilities he is seeking for his populace, starting with electricity that can power smartphones.
HOW: CASE STUDIES ON RELIABLE
POWER FOR SMARTPHONES
AND A DIY TOOL
- The case study overview of HROC’s “reliable power initiative” (RPI) – based on the general public in Ukraine harnessing crank generators that they can, in fact, create themselves in a DIY fashion (shown two figures down from here) – is explained in this figure below:
- This case study figure above may seem relatively straightforward: sending something to people in a disaster zone something that you believe they need, but that they did not specifically ask for (and did not think they needed – or didn’t even know what it was). It didn’t use the 7-step DIY generator process (which is two figures below). This was an already-built crank generator sent to Ukraine that, over time, became used daily. But though it was not yet a Ukraine-DIY on the technology, it was a DIY on the technique of “mentally preparing in order to physically prepare.”
- Here is an analogy: Imagine you are a dad trying to get your middle school-aged son a sold-out Christmas present. There is a lot of work that needs to be done with that alone, correct? But add to that that it is for the clothes he needs, not the toy he wants. That reduces the son’s “process participation”, as he will need to give you his size that he would feel comfortable in, and to wear it once in hand. You believe (since he wants to run track and cross-country) it’s needed because it's a new T-shirt with material that keeps warmer in winter, cooler in summer, and drier in any weather when playing sports outside (to prevent falling ill from grueling practices, while keeping kids more comfortable so they can play at a higher level during “the big game”). In other words, even though it may not be understood fully or used before, it still could be highly valuable later.
- Eventually, you convince your son to give you his shirt size, then you search all the stores that may still have it in inventory, calling them to confirm the item is in stock (since online information could be wrong). Then you move money into your department store credit card, then drive to that store to pick it up, confirm it is actually what you want (you want to make sure he has it for Christmas, after all, not have it be a mistake and require a return or it be a bad color or design). Then you must explain details like why and how to use the shirt, how to take care of it lasts, etc. And once again – for something your son did not request. But in the end, he loves what it does!
- With the above, we can soon see this is not a hand wave of “wish it to be and it is.” There is a process. And given it took two paragraphs to explain, it is a multi-step, “challenging” process.
- As mentioned, at first the mental and physical (tasks) preparation may seem simple to an outsider – but it actually took a lot of work in this wartime situation. This process required the two steps noted in the prior section: 1. Mental preparation, and 2. Physical preparation. It took getting the crank generator to be accepted as something for Dasha on our team to spend time helping HROC’s chief scientist (Terry) to get to her and the team, and learn to use it routinely to be ready for when Terry believed it would not only be helpful, but actually critical to potentially rescuing and helping people – like their leader, who in turn can rescue and help other people.
- This smartphone-charging case study – one that led to a crucial, valuable outcome of helping many civilians – also had a several more details relevant to achieving the ultimate outcome of getting help to Douglas (the injured team leader). Let us look at some of the challenges faced during this challenging process that required increased cognitive bandwidth to perform.
- The first problem is the “shock” from a disaster (in this case, the war). Shock is the worst case scenario for cognitive bandwidth in the near-term (brain damage being worst case in the long-term). Shock leads to basically no mental ability to process information and instruction. It is like throwing a ball to someone, but they not only don’t catch it, it actually hits them in the face. It is easy to understand why even a psychologist like Dasha would have shock in May of 2022 when the Russian atrocities were becoming widely circulated and spreading intense disbelief and fear.
- However, she still had to “participate” in the challenging process to get her and future members of the team help we believed they would eventually need, but of which they had never heard (i.e., the crank generators). The main participation was laying the groundwork for the delivery of the generator through her “trusted intermediaries” given there was at least a 5% risk of loss we were told, and an even higher chance of significant delays that could last weeks or even months (given delays in customs processing, and risks of shipping anything with lithium batteries).
- In short, there were several tasks in this process – well over the 3 simple tasks that are typically considered the universal limit to avoid task saturation under duress. Even though for this case, there’s generally only 4 stages (agree to learn about the need for the charger, then learn how to get it, then start the process of getting it, and then follow through till it’s delivered), in reality there are several specific tasks in this process, including some complex (e.g., explaining to the trusted intermediary you need their help, why, and how, then providing their address information to HROC-USA to know where to ship it, given Dasha was not in Lviv where the shipment would go; also another complex task was how to initially charge and then maintain the charge of the crank generator), to this overall process. But it is a challenging process with major implications for life – first and foremost the ability to maintain smartphone capabilities.
- People’s participation in processes also means getting past: depression and a “fatalistic apathy” it often produces, the paralysis from having too much to consider and worry about, the breaking of old habits (e.g., using smartphones at all times for any reason), stubbornly held beliefs (like the false sense of security Ukrainians had by summer, assuming power would always be in their electrical outlets), and denial of new realities (e.g., Putin and his war leaders are so brutal, with so little conscience, they’d thus deliberately target energy and critical infrastructure in winter). Overcoming emotional numbness, accepting why something is valuable, what needs done to get it, then managing one's expectations of what can and can’t be done with it, are also all part of this process – and all of it required cognitive bandwidth in order to start and then complete it.
- There are additional relevant details. Terry told the HROC-Ukraine team, through Dasha (who speaks English quite well), that they should worry less about disease as he explained it was toxic dust and pathogens that could be solved (e.g., wearing a mask or raising humidity levels). This meant less anxiety, and more focus on what would be a problem, working together on a viable solution to implement (i.e., the crank generator), as they could then be more easily "connect the dots" of why they should not be complacent even though they had reliable power at the time (i.e., the early summer of 2022, then power infrastructure attacks started October).
- Initially, early in the war for use in shelters, the HROC-Ukraine team was also asking for more solar from generators from HROC-USA (as we had delivered them early in the war, since they were relatively easy to get and take in our team's first trip to Ukraine). However, the HROC-Ukraine team had to understand why that was not the optimal source of power (e.g., they could not work at night, nor work well when used in the weaker winter sun, reducing their output).
- With our approach, better training was absorbed, and decisions made, by the HROC-Ukraine team, by first focusing on increasing the new Ukraine team’s cognitive bandwidth. The increase in bandwidth was achieved by explaining how to reduce cognitive load, but then also how to improve air composition (e.g., helping them understand how to keep from getting major respiratory infections using humidity, one of the components of “invisible masks”), and also explaining and teaching toxic air risks (radioactive dust risks, but also immediate and pervasive CO, CO2, and toxic dust from concrete / particulates in addition to pathogens). This was done at the start.
- More recently, we have been helping avoid suboptimal air composition (mentioned on our previous webpage progress update from 1/5/23) from portable generators, instead harnessing all the food that our Ukraine team leader Douglas said is still widely available (if not plentiful, hopefully all throughout this war) and its calories, and then converting calories into watts of electricity. And the human body, though it will produce carbon dioxide, produces virtually no carbon monoxide, making the use of crank generators safer for not only a family, but also the entire population living around them (which ties to HROC's preventive health background). That is, this electrical power does not cost people their health, endurance, nor their cognitive abilities.
- But the full process also led to more reliable power, which can then also help a person’s health status by enabling communications for healthcare. For example, when power is intermittent or scarce and there is an injury like a TBI, then hours can matter. So having phone contact immediately matters (via having a charged phone at all times). This also applies for a heart attack, a stroke, even anaphylactic shock from a peanut allergy, or any other emergent issue.
- In summary, we now can help many people make small crank generators, that can be put into a backpack, rollaway luggage, or even a toy wagon pulled by kids, in the event people have to evacuate quickly – ensuring smartphones can always be kept charged. But to make this crank generator, “people need to start preparing it now” is our message. So, it is by using human performance enhancement techniques that we can make it easier for them to accomplish the "challenging process" required to be ready to evacuate and survive being internally displaced in Ukraine, or being a refugee outside Ukraine and in a refugee camp.
- The example above also highlighted three important benefits, discussed in the figure below:
- Once again, these benefits were obtained due to specific training in human performance and human survival checklists. We wish we could say they were easy to accomplish, but as they say, “if it were easy, it would have already been done.” These are not easy, but they are doable.
- To recap, these processes we develop ourselves or modify from others are, as we explained in the prior posting on progress (1/5/23), what we term as challenging processes. They therefore require instructions on how to accomplish them fully and reliably. However, starting and then reliably completing everything necessary requires human performance as we also noted.
- For instance, the Molotov cocktail homemade weapon is considered by some as one example of civil defense and was actually a preparation made at the beginning of the war in 2022, people may recall (as many reporters mentioned it). Some people have noted that this process was not humanitarian in nature (i.e., not saving people’s lives when they are under merciless attack).
- However, it was also actually not helpful as civil defense to even protect the nation. As the New York Times noted, in the first week after the invasion, civilians prepared themselves to directly face assailants, and there was a frenzy of Molotov cocktail production among Ukrainians of all walks of life. However, those improvised incendiary weapons did not serve much use, though, in a war in which the Russian aggressors are rarely close enough to hit with a Molotov cocktail.
- The effectiveness of Molotov cocktails basically matched the number of steps – our summary, based on others’ descriptions of those Molotov cocktails used in combat, is a simple 3-step process: 1. Get old bottle, gasoline supply, and rag to serve as fuse. 2. Put gasoline into bottle, then the fuse into the bottle. 3. Light fuse when near target and then quickly throw at target.
- That is, it was too simple and ineffective – one civil defense tactic that reinforces our argument that if it was simple, it would have already been done by now. Oversimplifying is not what we are trying to do for the civil defense that we are trying to prepare for potential evacuations.
- Unfortunately, we then face the difference between 3 simple steps vs. double (or more) of that number – and thus reaching overload tipping points far too quickly, especially under duress.
- This is because, in order to be successful in actually delivering the capabilities to Ukrainians for heat, electricity, and the “invisible mask” (i.e., that they will need from air composition that ranges from stifling to harmful to deadly), there are many factors – each that typically translate into some sort of task – that go into achieving success in the effort, which we will discuss below. In our procedures / safety checklists, in each there are often 10 “bite-sized” steps or more, with some much longer, or having complex tasks, or no instructions at all and thus require problem-solving creativity when problems arise while creating the tool or performing the process. Preparing mentally when creating something, like DIY items, is crucial. This is the key first step.
- After this step, the DIY preparation becomes more realistic, easier to start and more able to be problem-solved. An actual example is the crank generator made by simply a high school plus college student tag team in under an hour using a battery-powered toy “ground-based” drone that that was broken (in figure below). Based on the feedback from our team, there are many damaged drones in Ukraine that cannot be fixed but that do have motors similar to this example which can be used to make portable electrical hand or pedal cranked generators to at least charge smartphones, but perhaps even larger items like laptops, water purifiers, and other battery-operated items. This example enables trickle charging for phones or can help in lighting.
- It is what we call “damaged drones to charge smartphones.” In the movie Apollo 13, a key quote was “power is everything.” The importance of electrical power, the math needed when it is scarce (and needs conserved), and above all, having contingency plans to obtain electrical power when it's needed to survive, all comprise the ideal preparation process that Ukrainians can immediately do (given the paramount importance of smartphones). And students are a valuable resource and have a need, since, in Kyiv, school is in session whether there is power or not, and for students’ computers at school or home, typically a laptop of notebook will use about 30 watts – which they can create for themselves as they also prepare for emergencies.
- The figure below explains the steps for a “DIY crank generator” tool that can be made simply by student researchers to help themselves, their families, and people in their communities.
- But in Apollo 13, they also note the consequences of harmful air, which can “block” preparing.
- Below are the factors that went into getting the benefits from our “reliable power” for smart-phones, showing the science behind the entire successful process. Please see figure below.
- As can be seen in the figure above, suboptimal air composition (SAC) solutions (e.g., by simple ventilation or other tactics) for human performance are needed before completing important physical processes. Example: have you ever felt drowsy when trying to finish some project? Being sleepy blocks us from completing it. This is a similar effect to not being mentally prepared due to SAC, since sleepiness is brought on by carbon dioxide. Poor metabolism is a key culprit (whether poor blood sugar, or in this case, interference from carbon-compound gases), as tired-ness relates to metabolism, and carbon gases adversely impact it. Finally, headaches or simply “not feeling well” are all possible from carbon gases, which further reduces mental energy.
- For alerting to, and addressing, suboptimal air composition, we have a proactive “chemistry and physics” approach on how to reduce or prevent toxic gases like CO from forming (e.g., crank generators), or corrective measures to prevent reaching mental and physical impairment (or worse, toxic) levels, using something we call air composition transformation (ACT).
- We also add to that a more "reactive" approach for when proactive is not possible or can be overwhelmed (e.g., if heavy use of portable generators), so as to alert via health symptoms detection such as from our checklists noted in the progress update below from 1/5/23 (with other more proactive DIY detectors in development) and how to address (e.g., immediate ventilation outdoors, our DIY hyper-localized ventilation system, and other new systems).
- By using this case study as the first example of our methods affecting lives in Ukraine, we can improve their preparedness for evacuation. However, our team also feels the need to help other people beyond Ukraine, telling (via video) audiences around the world what they've learned by applying our key technique to create DIY “technologies” to aid everyone survival, which is that “human performance is what can turn what seemed like mountains into molehills.”
- What we have shown with our past research is that the right training can make people more self-reliant (including on health, preventing problems that they wouldn't be able to take care of themselves once problems snowball and become too large). The next section explains how.
HOW: THE RELEVANCE TO HUMAN PERFORMANCE
AND COGNITIVE SCIENCE
- Have you ever felt more refreshed -- and then able to take on bigger challenges -- after a good mid-day nap? That's because the nap gave a surge of cognitive bandwidth, which then gave human performance gains. There are really only two ways to get more bandwidth: lowering cognitive load or raising cognitive tipping points. And our techniques, which can be trained, and use methods that can be implemented into DIY tools, are the best way to attain this bandwidth.
- The ability to think above and beyond other life on earth is what made us the dominant species, and in control of our destiny against all the dangers of the world. Without this ability, we are in no better a situation than most animals and would then be at the mercy of the world.
- Our point of view is that to have the ability to think, we must take care of the brain's neurons' health, including metabolism and immunity, which then help cognitive function, so as to be able to prevent or solve problems. In short, we improve mental health by improving the brain's health. This means producing power without carbon monoxide, given harm from even low levels of it.
- Carbon emissions, coupled with anxiety, create what we call the mental “fogginess” of war or from any other extended disaster, like recovering from a deadly flood or drought – both of which in some nations can also cause famine (note: malnutrition increases fog). This fog is not just the daze some feel from the initial shock or repeated shocks that strike fear, but an added load, weighing, we’ve been told, like an albatross around one's neck. This can be attributed, based on our past and current research, to increased cognitive load from worry and anxiety as well as checklist overload from all the new steps that must be taken for safety or to navigate new resource constraints such as poverty. But it is also the lowering of cognitive capacity (i.e., tipping points) from mental degradation from mental burnout and suboptimal air composition (SAC) that interferes with cellular metabolism and proper utilization of oxygen.
- For this fogginess, we believe if you change the air you breathe, you change the way you think.
- Changing the way people think was in fact the tagline one of our project managers from the U.S. Military gave our projects, both in a strategic sense (making them look at problems differently) and also a tactical sense (making people think better). Improving the ability to think is what we proved in with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), and they noted as such in a DoD Report to Congress. The figure below (see also 1/5/23 update to see larger version of the graph for #1) explains the approach taken and its results.
- Going back to the core of the case study (i.e., crank generators to obtain essential electricity to keep smartphones charged) and the many situations and ways it can help, there is also a synergistic set of benefits in using “cranking” as our approach harnesses. Though physical activity like cranking (especially pedaling) can tire people in the short-term, it helps improve physical endurance in the long-term. And it also helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
- When attached to pedals (which is what we will be showing in our next iteration of crank generator DIY, given the number of damaged bicycles in Ukraine), people can get the advantages of cycling, which (just like running and even walking) releases endorphins (the “feel-good” hormones). Endorphins help relax the mind and makes people feel happier and reduces feelings of anxiety. Research shows that those who regularly cycle have a significantly lower risk of feeling stressed.
- Studies have also found that exercise, especially outdoors, is a valuable for emotional and mental health, and considered a key therapeutic component of any strategy to combat depression, anxiety, and stress. Cycling is particularly useful for positive mental health – it’s easily accessible to most anyone (even kids), aerobic, low impact, and has known brain boosting benefits, such as improving memory, creative thinking, mood, and willpower, by rapidly spreading endorphins, and neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.
- As discussed in the prior (1/5/23) progress update, extended low-level carbon monoxide exposure can cause long-term damage, resulting basically in neurological and cardiac chronic conditions. “Spoon theory” argues that chronic condition patients only have a limited amount of energy (analogy: only finite number of spoons to give), and they must be careful to not use up their energy on lower priority items. This is our argument too – cognitive bandwidth is finite each day, and must be recharged. Another consideration is when trying to accomplish a process – there may simply not be enough “staying power” to get it done. War can damage both body and mental health as we know, and our research indicates that SAC adds physical and cognitive chronic illness too. But our past research shows that EVERYONE has finite cognitive capacity, even if they are healthy. All resources, including our mind and body, have limits. And everyone, regardless of their health status, will suffer consequences of carbon emissions in their body.
- Part of the way to overcome the problems of constricted cognitive bandwidth is to be trained (using our webinars for cognitive load balancing) to ensure that cognitive load is spread across other people or over time. All our key webinar videos will be converted by our Ukraine team into the Ukrainian language, and presented by Ukrainians who defended the nation during the war.
- Another path that can be taken is similar to the approach for long covid fatigue, a strategy called "pacing" helps, meaning people basically don’t try and do too much in too little time and burn out quickly for the time period in question. But clearly that would also reduce their “throughput.” We believe people need to start viewing carbon monoxide at even low levels as a toxin, just like we could view alcohol. Alcohol leads to "cognitive impairment", but also other mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. So instead of just living with the problem, we seek to prevent it.
- To see what gains are possible if we can maximize cognitive bandwidth, look no further than the nap we brought up in the beginning – it literally helps clear the mind and raises people’s tipping points. But it is also easily visible in our figure above – the Air Force Human Performance Curve (or AF HPC, which was used to describe how to maximize fighter pilots’ capabilities) that shows performance vs. workload. If someone is below the first tipping point, or beyond the second, tipping point, then their human performance is much lower than if they can have a balanced workload, one that is engaging while not being overwhelming. This is similar to the “shower effect” – which helps explain why we get our best ideas in the shower. It is because there is a “sweet spot” to how engaging the activity is and its impact on creative thought: too little, and it is boring; too much, and it leaves little attention for ideating. Similar to the AF HPC we noted.
- This brings us full circle to the practical issue at hand – how to solve general problems related overall to survival, or specific problems related to creating survival essentials like one’s own crank generator. Even with our instructions or videos, most people will likely never get the perfect fit for their solution, but they do have a better chance of making it fit if they have ample cognitive bandwidth, which is attainable by following the methods we’ve outlined above.
WHY AND HOW THE WORLD BENEFITS
- [More details will be coming in a further update within a week, but for now, a key figure to explain the value of improving suboptimal air composition for improved cognitive function, and thus greater cognitive bandwidth, is below…]
HOW TO ACCOMPLISH: WHAT ARE THE
RESOURCES NEEDED IN HROC-UKRAINE
“MOBILE LAB UNIT MISSION CONTROL”
(TO ADD TO HROC-USA'S VOLUNTEER EFFORT)
- Our team in the U.S. is volunteering their time toward this 3-months’ worth of effort on HROC’s Ukraine Winter Mission (including our chief scientist, Terry, who is spending more than a fulltime effort on the project). However, HROC’s Ukraine office needs resources to validate and localize our solutions, film them as videos, and then socialize the training videos across multiple channels. The videos will be led by those who put their lives on the line to defend Ukraine, including HROC-Ukraine’s team leader Douglas and his colleague Igor.
- Terry also is trying to work logistics with Douglas to meet him in Warsaw for the trip to the Kyiv area / Irpin to deliver key equipment and do critical training and scientific assessments of conditions in key areas, as well as complete testing on DIY solutions that should work in Ukraine but must be tested and perhaps troubleshooted and modified if necessary.
- The team in Ukraine will support Terry’s volunteer effort for this mission, but are facing dire economic conditions to just survive, let alone have resources to get the necessary equipment. And even if that would happen, shipping, we have proven, will take at least a month for items like generators. This is the reason for Terry’s need to deliver the tools needed in person, in order to expedite, given the only 8 remaining weeks until spring officially arrives (and Russia may not even wait that long for a re-invasion that would necessitate an evacuation).
- Having this initial proven case study in hand, and details of the Ukraine winter mission prepared, we are now finally sharing the Ukraine office GoFundMe page so that our team in Ukraine can get the resources to help Ukrainians maximize the heat, electricity, and understand / implement the "invisible mask" concept for air composition transformation. The hyperlink for it is here, and link (to instead copy and paste) is below:
- The Ukraine Winter Mission, both the local project by the team there, and the volunteer project by Terry and team in the U.S. (including Terry’s planned trip to Ukraine) will be about preparing the Ukrainian people. It will be done via our Ukrainian team in Kyiv and starting in the city of Irpin, for the survival essentials like heat, electricity, and the “invisible mask” that will be needed to survive an evacuation made under duress and dire conditions so as to reduce preventable deaths and suffering. It is to help people see – and prepare for – what is on the horizon.
- To give background on what the funds raised will be used for, first and foremost is to create the videos hosted by defenders of Ukraine to show people can do their part in a civil defense project that helps people in turn help family, friends, and the vulnerable in their communities in making electricity that is truly portable. We believe this is the fastest way to reach people most quickly, focusing not just on social media, but also as videos that we will request to be played in every shelter in Irpin, ranging from Points of Invincibility (POI), to partial-POIs and In-House Safety Areas that we help guide with standards, procedures, and checklists. Finally, the videos will focus on the “EvacPac” to enable speedy and safe evacuation by the populace, as well as safer journeys to safer areas. In short, our primary goal is public safety education, using videos.
- Another capability we are implementing is taking the van (used by Douglas and Igor to deliver supplies to warzones) to install the equipment, sensors, and other items to convert the van into a “mobile-lab unit mission control” (MUMC) complete with a geolocation tool that models risks and opportunities / resources and constraints. It has recording/filming equipment to create videos on location, and through smartphones, offers “train the trainer” (T3) calls as second-tier support for our checklists and procedures. This would be within a Cooperative High Reliability Organization (CHRO) scalable model, containing community and neighborhood liaisons we call ambassadors that are focused on civil defense and who aid clusters of people.
- This is similar to what was used by healthcare rapid response teams in our Defense projects (but this is done for neighborhoods rather than patients). Our unit would be starting in Irpin (given it is even closer to the Belarus border, has fewer shelters, and thus will need evacuated even before Kyiv. Then this mobile unit will go all throughout Kyiv. Also, given 2 new people from Odesa have been helping us, and who we in turn want to help, we will try and help the city of Odesa, which doesn’t even have a subway (though they do have catacombs), and other cities where critical infrastructure has been decimated and distributed infrastructure is needed.
- In terms of the major line items in the GoFundMe budget, they are:
- $2k equipment delivery, on-site evals/training of office, key shelters, and example sites for partial-POI and IHSAs.
- $10k for Ukraine office to support team through the min. 2-month project (6 people) for survival and supplies/expenses.
- $5k for equipment, sensors, licenses, tech. support on the licenses.
- $2k specialized consultants that may be needed.
- $1k overhead./ misc.
- $1.1k for the fundraiser (PayPal Giving Fund expense)
- During the delivery and training trip by Terry to Ukraine (likely Kyiv and Irpin, unless invasion looks imminent, in which case it will likely switch to Odesa or Lviv), the itinerary will also include:
- Meeting one or more government officials in Irpin, especially regarding POI, partial-POI, IHSAs, and EvacPacs, as well as the Invisible Mask Initiative (IMI) to battle against SAC, throughout the city’s buildings and shelters. A key goal for Irpin is quickly implementing DIY High Reliability for survival essentials and EvacPacs. But will also discuss our scientific studies (e.g., more DIY crank chargers and other sources of electricity, as well as safer rocket stoves to help burn more items more safely, testing and treatment of SAC, and finally coordinating a drone airlift network).
- Sensor readings (e.g., of CO) in Irpin and Kyiv, and while there, meeting someone from Kyiv school of economics (as there was interest stated by their leader to discuss collaboration).
- Possibly a trip to Odesa to meet team there on crank generators, if time.
- If power instability or rapid invasion is a concern, then we will make videos in the Lviv area, or someplace with more stable power to do the DIY item testing.
- Summary: The trip itinerary is first and foremost for our onsite and virtual (via video) training to achieve a public safety success for Irpin’s mayor, while we also do our scientific study on the sensor readings and the estimated risks and consequences from those readings. What is critical is Terry’s delivery to the MUMC of sensors and equipment to turn the van into a mobile lab of various sensors and equipment to help guide the DIY that people in Irpin (in shelters, Points of Invincibility, partial-POIs, and IHSAs) need to do, especially to make their own EvacPacs to use anywhere. This delivery and training of all the tools enables our office in Ukraine and its mobile lab to take readings, compare to our recommended standards, evaluate levels of preparation, assess risks, recommend solutions, and train people on how to prepare on the DIY needed.
- There are no simple hand waves or magic words to get to survival at this point of the war. Survival now is dependent on people being “willing and able” to do challenging processes to help themselves, their family and friends, and their fellow Ukrainians. The tanks delivery by the West could perhaps mean good things to come, but more likely it suggests escalation, and if significant enough, then there will be a need for smooth evacuations, and for that, people need to be prepared. If the evacuation fails because people aren’t prepared, then that may mean incomprehensible suffering and losses from sieges similar to what happened in Mariupol.
- If you have been wanting to make the greatest difference in Ukraine (i.e., help 4 million people at evacuation risk, and save our estimate of at least 1%, so 40,000 civilians given the current mortality rates of the war), then please consider helping our Ukraine team show Ukrainians to be more self-reliant in being able to save their lives during the current disaster. But in a way it to also help defend their nation. To paraphrase General Patton: "Nobody ever won a war by just dying for his country." To win this war, Ukrainians must survive.
- Along with this, our Ukraine team wants to show how the resilience and resourcefulness of Ukraine can most help all its current – and potential – allies. Part of this is how anyone can get a second wind for completing challenging processes, including from a “new air composition.” Survival procedures and safety checklists are not easy – but they are not impossible either. The proven approach we have outlined in this posting can make it easier to start and finish any challenging process. It improves human performance in order to turn mountains into molehills. And it is applying psychology (Dasha’s expertise) and cognitive science (Terry’s expertise) in order to help people not just feel better, but to also be better and do better. As we mentioned, the key will be improvising with common items but innovative applications, and: 1. Preparing human performance via checklists, and then 2. Then perform human survival via checklists.
- Our last point on this project: nothing is easy, which Ukrainians are living and showing us daily – but Ukrainians aren’t giving up either. Instead, they (including our team in Ukraine) are “paving the way” for other people around the world to find it easier to survive during those times when they may also confront disasters at some point in the future. This can be done by teaching us all lifesaving self-reliance to see – and prepare for – all the challenges beyond the horizon.
1/5/23: "Survival under any adversity is a challenging process. Survival in a disaster like Ukraine faces is too often beyond comprehension, not just for those viewing it, but also those living it. This affects the ability to adequately prepare for all the problems each person will face in a time of intense crisis, to in turn then have lifesaving self-reliance whenever getting outside help is unreliable at best, unavailable at worst. This is the basis of our Public Safety Scientific Study Mission to Ukraine this winter. We have now created new diagrams to help further understand the purpose of this mission."
- To explain further and elaborate on this topic:
- As some have termed it, Ukrainians throughout the holidays during the last two weeks of December, 2022, had awoken to some of the worst bombing in the entire war including on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day – as press accounts aptly equated it as bombs for children on Christmas morning.
- The brutality in the killings of civilians were also in Irpin, where Russia's “reign of terror” – which saw a disproportionate amount of the civilians brutalized and killed being women and included rape as a means of terrorizing the population – happened in first months of the invasion.
- And it is not likely to change anytime soon, as Putin’s New Year’s address was unusually aggressive and combative.
- This reminds us of why it’s so important to consider the words of Pres. Zelenskyy as he noted in his address to the U.S. Congress, "Your money is not charity…It is an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way…The battle is not only for life, … this struggle will define in what world our children and grandchildren will live, and then their children and grandchildren. It will define where it will be a democracy."
- This is why it's so critical that the free world win, through its “first line of defense” – Ukraine.
- Being able to overcome increasing evidence of war crimes by Russia, and their military acts of barbarism against civilians, will require having the necessary mental and physical human performance capacity.
- However, this capability for those caught in war erodes over time, which is no doubt a Russian military objective geared toward forcing surrender or simply driving people away from land the Russian leadership wants to seize by force.
- Studies on war’s physical and mental health consequences show just how severe this erosion can be. War has a catastrophic effect on the health and wellbeing of nations, with conflict situations causing more mortality and disability than any major disease, as it also destroys communities and families. It often also disrupts the development of the social and economic fabric of nations. The effects of war include long-term physical and psychological harm to children and adults, as well as reduction in material and human capital. Deaths from war tend to be simply the "tip of the iceberg" given other consequences, besides death, are not well documented, but include endemic poverty, malnutrition, disability, economic/ social decline and psychosocial illness, to mention only a few.
- Among the consequences of war, the impact on the mental health of the civilian population is one of the most significant. Studies of the general population show a definite increase in the incidence and prevalence of mental disorders, with women more affected than men. Other vulnerable groups are children, the elderly and the disabled. Various quotes from recent wars that show the range of problems include: "We are living in a state of constant fear" (in Iraq); "War takes a toll on Iraqi mental health"; "War trauma leaves physical mark"; "War is hell... it has an impact on the people who take part that never heals"; "War is terrible and beyond the understanding and experience of most people."
- But it was also the psychological impact of the world wars in the form of shell shock that supported the effectiveness of psychological interventions during the first half of the 20th century. It was the recognition of a proportion of the population not suitable for army recruitment during the Second World War that spurred the setting up of the National Institute of Mental Health in the U.S. The differences in the presentation of the psychological symptoms among the officers and the soldiers opened up new ways of understanding the psychiatric reactions to stress.
- As the war from the Russian invasion grinds on, the need to increase cognitive bandwidth, given countervailing trends like increasing burnout, will become even more critical to maintaining thinking capacity for survival as well as productivity for the current economy and future recovery.
- The figure below illustrates the trendlines we seek to reverse, which we believe can be aided by increasing cognitive bandwidth.
- Defeating the core belief by tyrants in the world that they can just take what they want will require Ukraine, and the West, to win the war (or at least not lose it). To achieve this, we must maintain people’s willingness to endure extreme challenges of war, and not only avoid surrendering on the battlefield, but just as importantly avoid the civilian population surrendering physically and mentally. However, as a famous basketball coach noted, “The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to PREPARE to win.”
- We believe reducing the “body count” from the war crimes (which Russia is likely going to continue committing) not only saves people’s lives, but also ensures there is not the surrender noted above.
- So, the question is how can people prepare to survive the horrible acts inflicted by Russia designed to maximize suffering and casualties of the war?
- Without the essential capabilities to survive, history has shown that morale, bodies, and spirit begin to break in any struggle for freedom (or survival, in the case of genocide, which some have argued is what Russia is committing again in Ukraine, after having killed millions of Ukrainians 90 years ago as well). The “will to fight” is considered by some as the single most important factor in war. Even the best technology in the world is useless without the force of will to harness it and to keep using it even as casualties mount and unexpected calamities arise. Almost all wars and almost all battles are decided by matters of human will.
- To see examples of how “fear and panic are more infectious than Covid" for an army, says one expert, just look at the Iraq war. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, many Iraqi soldiers simply didn't think Kuwait or Iraq's brutal leader were worth dying for. "There was one instance where Iraqi soldiers surrendered to a drone that was circling over them" the expert noted.
- A more recent example of an army losing the will to fight came in Afghanistan. Amid the US military's withdrawal from the country in 2021, the Afghan National Army collapsed. They allowed the Taliban to quickly take control, even though the US had invested years and billions of dollars in training.
- This is why maximizing human performance to last through this “weaponized winter” is so crucial.
- Proper preparation offers the ability to withstand, if not prevent, the pain, suffering, and preventable deaths experienced in war – if people can follow through with the preparation.
- This is the key reason for our focus on cognitive bandwidth to maintain human performance and to achieve self-reliance.
- The figure below offers both a comparison and a contrast to what we believe is need to enhance what is happening on the ground to help civilians in Ukraine, but also what is needed to extend the reach of humanitarian aid, by leveraging knowledge for self-reliance (which is much quicker to implement broadly) approach that we have implemented in the past (in the area of self-care) and are showing examples of in Ukraine that we want to leverage throughout the nation, and also into Poland (where any future refugees would most likely go), the U.S. / NATO allies, and the rest of the free world.
- Even with our boots on the ground in Ukraine, we realized that rapid response and scalability were in the greatest need for the winter disaster the nation is facing. Accordingly, we believed these goals of speed and scale could best be met by the benefits of using a Cooperative High Reliability Organization (CHRO) along with our Invisible Mask Initiative (IMI) to improve cognitive bandwidth for the maximum amount of people.
- Our background in our peer reviewed studies targeted reducing preventable deaths for the U.S. Department of Defense (including at human performance-specialized Wright-Patterson Air Force Base). We also showed improvement in safety and morale is possible, simply by “changing the way people think” to increase capacity – and thus each person’s capabilities.
- The value of prevention for safety and scarce resource conservation can be seen through two studies we did. One example was published as a cover story of a peer reviewed journal for a civilian hospital, showing our Cooperative High Reliability Organization (CHRO) innovation reducing preventable harm by 73%.
- In the other example, another of our studies for the Defense Department published in a peer reviewed journal, showed hypoxic or anxious patients (or often those with both conditions) appeared to overload more easily, as indicated by eye contact and body language among other issues, a discovery during our observation of patients needing trained in self-care. This impacted their learning, and thus they were coming back too frequently to the hospital – and in a worse condition, which then required more time and resources from the hospital for them to recover. We proved we could cut the times patients would visit the hospital by half when we improved their ability to think and follow the checklists safely for self-care. This was the genesis of how the Military Acuity Model (the foundation of the CHRO) could improve lifesaving self-reliance.
- How did HROC's team get to what they have calculated as feasible solutions for survival and safety in Ukraine? By learning what can work and what won't, given the limitations and threats people confront in the nation. Our office in Kyiv opened in May 2022 upon our team’s first visit, and then was registered in October 2022 (registration # in Ukraine: 44840272). Our own preparation for our mission to improve the preparation process for all Ukrainians is based on guidance from our own efforts inside Ukraine.
- For example, HROC had done shipments to Ukraine of multiple items, including protective wear delivery (for logistics, and also to help for blast protection), delivery of crank generator and smartphones for tests, and their challenges (e.g., lithium batteries are very difficult to ship and creating more delays).
- Ukraine has lost nearly half of its energy grid thus far.
- Our prediction was that electricity generation would become critical, so we delivered and tested solar generators and a hand-crank generator for charging of smartphones -- the only reliable source of power for two of our team members, they noted. Making portable, mobile heating safer was also part of our work, showing different ways to make rocket stoves to increase fuel source options (i.e., wood burning stoves, for that subset of homes in Ukraine that have them, are not safe to burn coal or wood not dried fully for 6 months for it to become actual firewood) -- while also reducing carbon monoxide risk, given the air coming from under the combustion area.
- And there is the risk of possible re-invasion early this year, nuclear fallout risk, and an unparalleled evacuation of Kyiv and its surrounding areas.
- This includes Irpin (a city where we have teamed with its mayor, Oleksandr Markushyn, at his request for help, given the challenges he faces with the shelters in his city that we had filmed), which had already sustained brutality and torture early in the campaign).
- In fact, we have a Checklist and Procedures for Survival Essentials (Draft -- to be verified upon HROC’s Chief Scientist's arrival in Ukraine for DIY feasibility there) for people to download to their smartphones there in Ukraine. This would be the next step in our initiative of the winter mission, once we can actually help increase cognitive bandwidth to make the procedures and checklists needed not seem like such a "heavy lift" to people who have too much on their mind and who are mentally exhausted.
- Our team has determined that making survival essentials mobile (to enable internally displaced persons inside Ukraine, or refugees going out to easily carry them, especially women with children), portable (to be more easily delivered via tactics such as “drone airlifts” we are advocating once they can be powered by our DIY method for crank generators, to people such as the elderly who are more resistant to leaving), and resilient (given the battering the DIY items made may sustain in war conditions and travel) are all critical.
- The reason is that some people “are considering fleeing Ukraine either again or for the first time,” according to a Polish nonprofit that supports refugees arriving in Warsaw. They note that in winter, “it’s simply difficult to survive if you don’t have a supply of energy or heating.” In fact, about a third of Ukrainians have been forced from their homes since Russia invaded in February, according to the U.N., and nearly 8 million refugees have been recorded in Europe, the fastest-growing displacement crisis since World War 2. On the flip side, a recent U.N. survey found only 7% of respondents still in Ukraine indicated they were actively considering leaving their location, and humanitarian agencies are trying to send as much aid into Ukraine as possible since it can be difficult for the elderly to leave.
- Our Ukraine team's belief is that the more locally-resourced DIY High Reliability in Ukraine, the less of a mass migration and of a refugee crisis there will then be. There will also be less risk of hostility increasing toward the refugees, such as recently happened in Germany, or the loss of popular and political support inside host nations or those providing major assistance.
- Having relatively safe and locally feasible electricity and heat sources, being able to prevent health crises, and even to endure nuclear fallout at greater than 80% protection levels (as we've identified and developed in one of our procedures) all would reduce the number of Ukrainians having to leave for other nations and relying on aid shipments for energy equipment like fuel-powered portable generators, or even scarce resources like medicine (e.g., if serious infections can be prevented "upstream").
- However, there were other findings that became even a higher urgency once we looked at the degree of preparation needing done, the scale of the checklists people needed to learn, and just the sheer number of people. Given respiratory and neurological issues of our Ukraine team in shelters, as a few members of our team revealed to us, there was our discovery on the combination of disease and panic also being symptomatic of what Mayor of Irpin also asked for our help – “suboptimal air composition” and then ways to solve it (or “clear the air” as the mayor termed it).
- How did the suboptimal air composition issue become our focus? What initially had gotten us thinking about this “hidden problem” was that our team has said that even with just the regular pollution monitoring mechanisms (not the detailed sensors, such as low-level carbon monoxide detectors and carbon dioxide level sensors), their newsfeeds in Kyiv constantly indicate days of poor air quality. And on these poor days, the levels of depression, anxiety, and tenacity they observed were indeed impacted for the worse. Clearly, there could be other confounding variables (e.g., missile strikes that create fires and their carbon-based emissions while also depressing people), but research on suboptimal air found drops in cognitive function even in controlled environments (and where there was no war).
- Thus, it may be a key cause of at least some of the “paralysis” that performing sufficient preparation confronts that our team has witnessed, including at times, with themselves – and by changing it, we could perhaps give people greater resilience and reliability. We believe it at least warrants a scientific study and tests HROC’s Chief Scientist will be performing on himself to assess the level of impact (e.g., reaction times, mental calculation capabilities, and memory recall) from moving to optimal from suboptimal air compositions.
- Based on persuasion from our initial evidence that we had provided the mayor of Irpin, and what he knew about his own shelters’ age and limitations, he greenlighted our project to attempt to solve this problem, given the emerging crisis in Ukraine from the change in risk when heating air to poor air compositions, such as relative humidity dropping and indoor fuel emissions rising.
- They are all part of the observations used to draw our conclusions regarding cognitive bandwidth and human performance challenges in Ukraine, with respiratory conditions and neurological challenges becoming more evident.
- The end result? Compliance and follow through is insufficient in the Kyiv area to do necessary lifesaving checklists quickly and effectively (i.e., with less errors of omission and commission), that would help people accomplish processes that get them survival essentials. For example, our team members in Ukraine pointed out that people there will panic at times (the term "panic" here is not frantic or emotional, rather a task saturation panic, so more like a vapor lock / brain freeze), which affects their performance on civil defense, such as highly-educated people saying that absolutely nothing could be done on things like radiation-protective shelters being constructed quickly at home, especially those homes with no basements.
- Beyond just our own observational evidence compiled by our team, another sign of the cognitive bandwidth problem is the horribly adverse impact the war is having on people, while ironically the complexity of preventions and solutions is not overly complex, according to another NGO. There is corroborating evidence from that NGO is that Impact scores of problems and solutions are extreme, but Complexity score is only middling, indicating self-reliance should actually be effective, while Ukraine's current situation indicates it may be the only realistic option – one where moderate effort yields much higher benefits – to help people in time (given delay risks and constraints we've seen on the ground).
- To be more precise, according to ACAPS, a nonprofit NGO, Ukraine currently faces a Crisis Severity score of 4.1. But the outsized opportunity for reducing preventable deaths from "changing the way people think" is apparent when comparing the Impact score, which is at the most severe 5.0, yet the Complexity score is 2.8 -- a much more navigable challenge.
- This is a form of paralysis at first. But we have shown it can be overcome for maintaining health and for even generating electricity. We call this initial paralysis a “barrier to initiative” and then subsequent fall-off in effort (usually from being overwhelmed) a "challenge to cross the finish line" for survival. In our view, this indicates, as we have seen with our own team's research and observations that the complexity of mitigating, perhaps even solving, the crisis situation is not insurmountable, and can actually be improved dramatically if there is greater "self-reliance" to do procedures / checklists.
- In other words, the impact if we can get people to do better self-reliance via "do-it-yourself" (DIY) survival procedures and safety checklists is disproportionate, if not a significant force multiplication on the ground, in terms of humanitarian relief and public safety gains.
- But our team said that “people don’t have the will nor time to think” of these survival essentials. An idea of the degree of impact is simply survival from having enough food, even when food is available nearby. For instance, in war-torn areas of Ukraine, HelpAge indicated that 91% of the older people they surveyed needed help obtaining food because they had mobility issues. With load balancing of tasks across people, and over time, as well as raising "cognitive tipping points" (all of which is our team's expertise), processes to solve this problem can be done more locally with the right level of individual initiative, adherence to instructions, and reasonable creativity in problem solving.
- Without cognitive bandwidth, problem-solving creativity becomes much more difficult, and perhaps not possible when a person faces the panic situation. So even if preparation is started, it does not get completed adequately and thus has more errors. In any of these cases, the result is the same – a preventable problem, perhaps even a preventable catastrophe.
- Our goal and mission for Ukraine this winter are to have: 1. More people doing the essentials for their survival in a do-it-yourself (DIY) manner, using locally-available resources (especially household items) since deliveries take so long and may not arrive in time. 2. All people training on these DIY procedures doing so much more safely and successfully, since the number of steps in the processes are often many, and challenging to some extent.
- The figure below, done with our Ukrainian team, explains what our goal is in our Public Safety Scientific Study Mission to Ukraine – above all, to find ways to increase cognitive bandwidth, which is narrowing in Ukraine due to stress, cold, and other factors.
- Accomplishing this preparation requires initiative, perseverance, and follow-through to both start and then finish “challenging processes” that help survival and safety.
- And all of this is made possible by cognitive bandwidth viewed at its most comprehensive level – including the thinking capacity and willpower to properly prepare for the crisis and all its contingencies. Cognitive bandwidth is critical to enabling human performance that in turn gets things done. Based on our team’s research for, cognitive bandwidth also offers additional benefits such as higher levels of safety and a greater ability to conserve scarce resources (as we proved in our study that became the cover story article for a peer reviewed journal on our team's Cooperative HRO innovation). Safety and conservation of scarce resources are also both needed in Ukraine this winter.
- This figure below shows why increased cognitive bandwidth will improve survival, by increasing successful completion of the preparation needed to maximize survival.
- When starting a challenging process, people are actually most motivated (i.e., releasing the highest level of dopamine, which is also known as the "motivation molecule") when people perceive something to be both a desirable and attainable challenge: 1. If it appears too easy, we demotivate ourselves because it feels boring and mundane, so we ignore and procrastinate.
- Our research shows that increasing cognitive bandwidth makes both of these problems less likely, as: 1. People realize the importance to survival and that the process is effective (i.e., they realize they want it), and thus the “rewards” possible. The rewards are not only of the end result, but also the neurochemical rewards occurring during the process (especially dopamine) to get past the boredom and distraction that that slows down or halts the process. 2. People realize the process – and its requirements – are feasible, and that they are not overwhelmed at the start or task saturated while trying to complete all the challenging set of steps in the process. If the mountain looks “too” steep, people don’t bother trying to climb it.
- As an interesting side note on point #1 above that discusses dopamine, the reason for dopamine release when we can apply our human performance to solve problems is because it is how we survived. Evolving via natural selection over tens of thousands of generations, people's minds want to solve problems and "puzzles", since the daily data a person accrues from their senses is often a puzzle itself in order to harness all of it effectively for one’s life.
- In short, our cognitive bandwidth-expanding approach helps make “mountains of mental effort” seem easier to traverse, becoming more hill-like (figure below) – i.e., mountains into molehills.
- This approach overcomes the usual "mental blocks" to completing challenging processes, enabling people to see the "big picture" by being able to think and “connect the dots” that: 1. "Nothing good is free, especially freedom" (as Ukrainians prove each day with their sacrifices). 2. "If it were easy, it would have already been done." 3. "The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step."
- And all these words that teach us can be better learned and done if given the essential resource of cognitive bandwidth.
- Coming full circle, this brings us back to the Ukrainian team at our Kyiv office, who are pioneering an effort to not only help all Ukrainians, but also the rest of the world whenever anyone confronts significant adversity. Adversity, it seems, is unfortunately growing in many ways around the world, but especially from climate disasters and armed conflict, where our team’s efforts can have near-term benefits.
- For example, as already noted, HROC-Ukraine has already started with raising awareness and developing solutions for "suboptimal air composition" (SAC), which our research has shown impacts cognitive bandwidth. The team is doing this by educating leaders (e.g., the mayor of the city of Irpin), showing how to detect the adverse effects, and creating early warning systems as well as early intervention systems also.
- Air composition includes properties in two categories: 1. Chemical properties, such as ratios and percentages of oxygen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, toxic dust, radioactive isotopes, etc. 2. Physical properties, such as amount of water content, particulate matter, volume of air and turnover of air, temperature, etc.
- When SAC is improved via optimization, it can: 1. Improve immune response and viral infection and spread by at least 50%. 2. Increase physical strength or endurance by up to 50%. 3. Most importantly, when it comes to preparing for the worst that could befall us, it lets us think ahead far longer and far better via its 50% or more improvement in cognitive capacity.
- Improving SAC is the quickest win when seeking to increase cognitive bandwidth, and thus the first step in our goal. Without the ability to think clearly, the ability to survive drops dramatically.
- There are other SAC dangers lurking that are more urgent of course in terms of preventable deaths, such as the carbon monoxide poisonings. Our research indicates this is mainly due to portable generators, which our team observed are already everywhere and poisonings occurring, and a request by the Ukrainian government for many more from around the world.
- With less power available, needs growing with colder weather, and more generators in an area occurring as more households need basic electricity to survive, this means carbon monoxide concentrations in the Ukrainian cities will likely increase, bringing with it many problems ranging from cardiac to cognitive disorders and deficits.
- But there are other, longer-term adverse effects as well. Think of the CO monoxide danger as a more hidden debilitation (unlike frostbite's gangrene and amputation) -- it can have lasting effects on the cardiac, neurologic, and other systems, since it basically poisons the blood and suffocates cells from receiving vital oxygen.
- Our Ukraine-office team has designed two detection solutions with the help of our chief scientist, one more "reactive" that uses a health-based symptom checklist, and the other more "proactive" that uses a "chromophore" tool based on household items that may be possible for people in Ukraine to make.
- The proactive solution offers the ability warn earlier at the source of the risk, or near the people who may be asleep (carbon monoxide is called a "silent killer" where people basically fall asleep before dying -- but it is especially a risk when people are sleeping, since they don't realize the symptoms when asleep). These solutions allow more people to have the capabilities of a carbon monoxide detector (a device they may not currently have, nor be able to realistically find and afford). Then there needed to be an approach (which they also designed for DIY) to reduce carbon monoxide levels without the need for the metal platinum, which is scarce in Ukraine, and costly anywhere (and hence why catalytic converter thefts are increasing).
- But this also applies to the rest of the world too, where CO poisonings happen – and at a 9 times greater rate during disasters when many people are using portable generators, burning wet wood, or trying to conserve heat and fuel by burning indoors.
- In fact, during its power outage, Texas had the worst carbon monoxide poisoning catastrophe in recent U.S. history (likely because many people in the nation aren’t familiar with all the safety risks). In fact, this Texas example is why a "mission control" is necessary in Ukraine (or for any disaster) that can monitor for risks if equipped with tools, or at least be a resource to "multicast" alerts tailored to different risk groups (e.g., those without electricity, versus those without water, etc.). The reason it's necessary to prevent deaths is that when cognitive function deteriorates from cold, carbon emissions, etc., and cognitive bandwidth narrows, more mistakes will be made, including catastrophic errors, which is the key reason we created a Cooperative HRO.
- There were several examples of risks and errors after a winter storm brought down the Texas power grid. When the power went off in millions of homes across Texas during the state’s historic freeze in mid-February 2021, families faced an impossible choice: risk hypothermia or improvise to keep warm. One error was people were using their cars to stay warm. Another error was that many brought charcoal grills inside or ran cars in enclosed spaces, either unaware of the dangers or too cold to think rationally. The third error was the state doesn't require carbon monoxide alarms in homes, so many people didn’t get what they needed to prepare for a power outage in advance (which includes a CO detector) to warn of dangerous levels, or even understand why it is necessary for safety, especially under certain scenarios.
- SAC is not the only factor that literally “chokes” cognitive bandwidth, but our research indicates it certainly is a major factor, based on our analysis of the research (and findings that are not counterintuitive, given the rhetorical question of "how well can anyone think when they are struggling for breath?").
- The immediate benefits of early detection of SAC are to then be able to: 1. Move to better air elsewhere (i.e., moving from the current location). 2. Obtain better air from elsewhere (i.e., general ventilation, or our hyper-localized ventilation system). 3. Change and optimize the air composition in one's current location (i.e., by transforming air via chemistry or physics).
- And optimizing air composition can be a rapid way to increase bandwidth and human performance to prepare what is necessary to survive this winter in Ukraine, or any crisis around the world.
- We believe that the efforts of our Ukraine team help realize what President Zelenskyy said, which is that helping Ukraine efforts is investing in the free world, one committed to human rights and the rule of law.
- It can also help in gaining further ground with potential new allies, since natural disasters and armed conflicts are reaching some of the largest population and GDP nations, such as India (e.g., given the flooding in South Asia, as well as border skirmishes with both Pakistan and China).
- In fact, the actions of Russia have led other nations to have to consider consequences of being tied to the emerging Russian and Chinese partnership even among historic allies such as India, which is playing a role in mediating the conflict in diplomacy, and trying to moderate the worst impulses of Russian leaders, such as nuclear saber rattling, which can potentially show the world a new calculus for democracies to have at least enlightened self-interest. For example, on a recent visit to India, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the U.S. wanted to “diversify away from countries that present geopolitical and security risks to our supply chain,” singling out India as among “trusted trading partners.”
- Beyond economics, there is a military calculus as well to India, since with border skirmishes with China more a risk these days, it appears unlikely that India can count on Russia given Moscow’s growing economic and military dependence on China, making India’s strategic relationship with the West critical. Ukraine’s experience in civil defense to bolster the resilience of India’s citizens and to make them more prepared for more contingencies makes it beneficial to other nations at risk of nuclear-armed or terrorist-tactic nations, to reduce potential fear and panic in its populace – and to make nations think twice before attacking (a key goal of defense).
- Supporting the HROC-Ukraine mission also enables finding answers to complex questions, such as "how to problem-solve problem-solving," by using human performance improvement techniques, when the consequences of failing at problem solving take the form of preventable deaths.
- Tying to a critical metric, the team's work answers, "how to increase survival rates in any disaster (both natural and man-made)."
- How does cognitive bandwidth impact other problems found in the U.S., even the world? There are many benefits.
- Civil defense is perhaps the most immediate, both for natural and man-made disasters. In the case of Ukraine, even more specifically it is the improving of defenses against Russian war crimes of targeting civilians.
- One example is that Russia is preparing a prolonged air campaign using Iranian-made drones in an effort to exhaust the Ukrainian people, Pres. Volodymyr Zelensky said right after the New Year. “We will do everything” for this campaign to fail, he said.
- Ensuring the Russian objective of demoralizing via drone strikes does indeed fail will require creative problem solving, like learning how to defend against drones requires (e.g., Ukrainian forces are growing more adept at defending against Russian drones, as they say they shot down all the drones Russia launched over the new year). This capability is enhanced or – when people are nearing mental exhaustion – enabled by cognitive bandwidth. However, even further creative problem solving is needed, and will be continually needed, because though Ukraine keeps downing Russian drones, the price is high.
- Therefore, given the end game is ensuring people do not become exhausted, that is another objective that greater human performance helps attain.
- An additional civil defense example is that our team and also news reports are noting, fortunately, the winter thus far has been relatively mild (e.g. The relatively warm and sunny winter weather in Ukraine has led to reduced daytime demand on the country’s beleaguered electricity grid, the national energy company said), but we must prepare people for if and when it turns considerably colder, since that could lead to a mass casualty event, which takes an extreme toll on family members, and could be significantly demoralizing to an exhausted populace.
- Our Ukraine office’s mission strives toward greater lifesaving self-reliance of the general population (i.e., to better protect themselves and survive independently of the overstretched military and first responders), via expanding cognitive bandwidth.
- Healthcare is another sector that can benefit from expansion of cognitive bandwidth. Proper use of checklists and protocols, proper administration of medications, proper operation of equipment and interpretation of results all improve with a greater ability to remember what’s been learned, as well as navigating decision trees (i.e., “if this, then this…”). It applies to everything from: 1. Preventive measures, 2. Self-care for patients, 3. Mental and physical health of clinicians who care for patients, who are simply overloaded or burning out.
- Foremost for this winter around the world is the now-endemic Covid-19 and its many variants. Respiratory illnesses were the 3rd leading cause of death in Ukraine even before the war (i.e., in 2020), but it is also normally the 5th leading cause of death in the U.S. Increased cognitive bandwidth, we have proven in multiple studies, improves adherence to checklists and protocols, and can aid in preventive measures like masking, social distancing, and vaccinations, but when that is not adopted by the local population, that is where a checklist like the Invisible Mask Initiative (IMI) can be even more valuable, as it reduces spread and viral load (thus reducing severity of illness).
- Why should this be such a high priority? There is a new Covid variant XBB.1.5, which is spreading very quickly. In terms of immune evasion, the variant has shifted as far away from the antibodies made to use against them. The levels of immune evasion are “alarming” and they could further compromise the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines. Moreover, the risk of millions of new cases that can spawn a vaccine-evading variant is growing. A top Chinese public-health official warned of widespread Covid-19 outbreaks across the country’s more vulnerable rural areas as millions of citizens prepare to travel home for the coming Lunar New Year holiday.
- And ironically, it may be that we may now be in a no-win situation, as vaccines may be fueling new Covid variants. Public-health experts are sounding the alarm about a new Omicron variant dubbed XBB that is rapidly spreading across the Northeast U.S. Some studies suggest it is as different from the original Covid strain from Wuhan as the 2003 SARS virus. Though it isn’t clear that XBB is any more lethal than other variants, its mutations enable it to evade antibodies from prior infection and vaccines as well as existing monoclonal antibody treatments. Growing evidence also suggests that repeated vaccinations may make people more susceptible to XBB and could be fueling the virus’s rapid evolution.
- And in a further blow to preventing long-term loss of cognitive bandwidth, the new subvariant may now attack the brain even more.
- As we have now seen from the past 3 years facing the pandemic, what happens when you have to trust people to be smarter (e.g., when you can't realistically go back to mandatory social distancing and shutdowns)? We need to consider making them smarter, by giving them more thinking capacity.
- As noted above, the checklist we are employing as part of our mission is the Invisible Mask Initiative (IMI) – which our research theorizes helps slow spread and lower infection risk. The original initiative was a simple 3-point checklist focused on: 1. Detection of respiratory infection risk from low humidity (indicated by static electricity, which dries out the mucous membranes, the first line of defense in the body’s immune system), 2. Corrective actions of using a humidifier, even a no-cost evaporative humidifier, and 3. The confirmation of reaching a safe level by looking for condensation at lower temperatures but not so high that the condensation occurs at higher temperatures.
- Given the primary focus on breathable air for the Checklists and Procedures for Survival Essentials (CPSE), we have expanded from the original initiative to now include reducing risk of not only disease but also death (which would occur with air toxicity increases from carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, oxygen depletion, toxic dust from shelling, etc.), once again, in both detection and correction. The reason it is called an “invisible mask” is that this does not require actual masks, and instead relies on physics, chemistry, and understanding of human physiology and limits.
- We have already already explained how self-care for patients coming back to the hospital in one of our Defense projects was tripled in memory permanence (i.e., keeping people from being admitted again to the hospital to every 49 days rather than 16 days between those hospital admissions).
- There is also the risk of carbon-emissions harming people long-term via climate change, which will impact health in non-obvious ways as well. Noting that “climate change produces both hotter summers and colder winters,” the researchers urged patients, doctors and public health officials to become more aware of the potential health risks of temperature extremes. For example, heart failure deaths increase 12% on very hot days, and even greater 37% on very cold days, as blood vessels constrict, causing more resistance to the heart's pumping, when the body is cold and heat needs retained. And of course, given the cold of Ukraine, and the elderly who have remained in the nation, there will be a much higher risk of heart failure deaths as soon as the first extended frigid cold wave descends on areas of Ukraine, and not just from the more obvious hypothermia and respiratory infections.
- There is also a psychological and social toll of the war, as even intimacy and bonding become uphill battles from the psychological weight. A member of the Ukrainian military said, "When you’re there, you’re constantly being shelled — there’s constant adrenaline and stress and wounded friends and concussions. You see death, every kind of death, and you can only handle it for so long."
- At the outset of the war there was a kind of thrill to the daring Ukrainian resistance, said a therapist in Kyiv. But that quickly dissipated. What took its place, the expert said, was the psychological weight of the war’s innumerable traumas — as many as 100,000 soldiers killed or wounded; more than 5 million Ukrainian civilians forced out of their homes and turned into refugees; more than 10 million now throughout the country facing humanitarian disaster. “It’s a real trauma, and trauma and romance don’t go together,” said one expert. War zone trauma can also cause a sort of “survival mode thinking” -- you have this heightened sense of mistrust of others...When a service member returns home, it’s hard to turn off that survival mode the expert noted.
- In HROC's view, trust is a form of reliance. And people relying on you means you need to be reliable to others in order to build trust. That reliability suffers when cognitive bandwidth erodes.
- Now perhaps the greatest lingering crisis to healthcare since the pandemic is burnout, as it affects so much more care than just those infected by Covid. As one author explained, when Covid-19 hit, workers in teaching, nursing, hospitality and retail (occupations where women predominate) bore a fair part of the burden associated with the disease. Women especially struggle to balance self-care against filling the needs of their families, ending up exhausted and emotionally drained. It is also unhealthy, leading to lost friends and mentors to hypertension-induced strokes, heart attacks, diabetes complications and simply exhaustion from adequate self-care.
- Many don’t have the necessary tools to cope with their feelings in a healthy way and, as a result, may engage in unhealthy coping strategies such as eating unhealthy foods, drinking alcohol, using illicit drugs, being sedentary or a workaholic. Thus, focusing on self-care, the author noted, is a matter of survival. Cognitive bandwidth is the ultimate coping mechanism, enabling people to feel better as they are more able to think their ways out problems.
- We can also relate what the population of Ukraine is facing, including to its health workers, to the burnout and exodus of healthcare workers in the U.S., and what can be learned from problems and proposed solutions for overloaded first responders and health-related staff in Ukraine that can have benefits to the U.S. system.
- In addition, health resources that overload cause preventable errors. If we can optimize air composition in these areas affected by war, and use additional techniques like “protected flanks” from the Cooperative HRO to reduce checklist overload impact during a crisis, we can correct issues proactively for higher reliability and fewer preventable deaths.
- In the U.S., what we have learned during the Ukraine disaster can be applied to prepare for the next pandemic. The findings can also inform (via publications and / or press releases for news stories) the U.S. government on the risks, and the need create more surge capacity in the U.S. for natural and man-made disasters.
- Our research shows that the more episodes of cognitive overload you have, the faster a person will burn out. With burnout, not only does morale suffer but so does performance and reliability of the frontline teams and their support teams.
- The issues being seen in Ukraine reduce productivity not only of doctors, but also importantly (to offload work from doctors), their support team. And the issues leading to overload in Ukraine are relevant to a significant degree at least during any natural or man-made disaster, but also if current trends hold. In both overwhelmed areas of Ukraine, but even areas that have more resources, the factors we've uncovered we believe are significant contributors adversely affecting reliability of all who are involved in healthcare, including the patients themselves.
- One study provides findings on the burnout and exodus from the healthcare industry: More than half a million people in the healthcare and social services sectors quit their positions in September  — evidence, in part, of burnout associated with the coronavirus pandemic — and the American Medical Association says 1 in 5 doctors plan on leaving the field within two years.
- The shortages have hit the health-care system like a tsunami [the chief medical officer at Yale said...] "Physicians, nurses and support staff have experienced a shift in how the public treats them compared with 2020. When covid first hit, there would be all of these parades past our hospital where people would call health-care workers heroes...now, we’re seeing nurses who show up in scrubs try to sign up for apartments being turned down because [management companies] don’t want people living there who work in health care."
- November , the American College of Emergency Physicians and 35 other health-care associations sent a letter to President Biden urging the administration to address ER staffing shortages and burnout...[Many problems] can all affect the mental health and well-being of the physicians and nurses,” they wrote.
- "...The assumption was when the coronavirus surges subsided, things would return to normal," [said a leader from Mass General Brigham] “[but] there is no more normal. Everything has changed, and now all those issues at the forefront are only getting more exacerbated over time.”
- Raising the stakes further, burnout is an actual medical diagnosis according to the ICD-10 classification codes (Z73.0 Burn-out), so it is also a clinical concern, not just a workplace concern.
- Burnout itself has been shown to reduce safe throughput (which we improved with the reduction of task saturation at the Hopkins at the Pancreatic Multi-Disciplinary Clinics) by up to 50%, which would explain the deteriorating condition of the healthcare industry. Burnout has been frequently associated with various forms of negative reactions and job withdrawal, including job dissatisfaction, low organizational commitment, absenteeism, intention to leave the job, and turnover. For people who stay on the job, burnout leads to lower productivity and impaired quality of work.
- Another study found that 89% of psychiatrists had either thought about or experienced a clear threat of severe burnout. Another study found that 90% of the respondents with severe burnout (i.e., daily occurrence of burnout symptoms) reported a physical or mental disease, with musculoskeletal pain and depression as the most common problems. And finally, a longitudinal study found that increases in burnout predicted increases in subsequent prescriptions of antidepressant medication.
- A different study looked at the occupational burnout and productivity loss among academic university staff. Using a Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services Survey (MBI-HSS) to assess occupational burnout dimensions (i.e., emotional exhaustion “EE,” depersonalization “DP,” and personal accomplishment “PA”), while work productivity was assessed with the Health and Work Performance Questionnaire (HPQ), it was found that in total, 28% of respondents scored high in EE [95% confidence interval (CI): 22.5–33.8%]. The absenteeism rates among respondents with moderate and high EE were 2.1 and 3.3 times the rates among those with low EE, respectively. Likewise, the presenteeism rates among respondents with moderate and high EE were 2.4 and 4.7 times the rates among those with low EE, respectively.
- However, it can apply even in specialty care. For instance, in cancer patients, the worries about cancer’s consequences increases their cognitive load. At the same time, the effect of the treatment (i.e., “chemo brain”) reduces their cognitive tipping points. This reduction in cognitive bandwidth and thus human performance ultimately reduces self-reliance when complying to instructions from the patients’ physicians, making it difficult to maintain through treatment and to recover once done. It also adversely impacts lifestyle choices that can impact the disease, whether before or after cancer diagnosis and treatment.
- Outside of this research’s relevance to healthcare, it can directly affect people’s finances and the overall broader economy. For instance, even business productivity is suffering from something related to burnout – according to one survey, burnout is the leading cause of at least at least 50%.
- When we consider empowering people in a job, it does not just mean providing them responsibility with the burdens and worries of accountability. It also requires ensuring people can "get the job done” (along with all its specific tasks). Similarly, empowering people to better survive and then thrive means not just telling people what they need to do, and then telling them they must get it done. In war and disaster, there's a lot of things that not only should be done, but also can be done (even those items that offer little value or may not even work), and never enough time to do them all. Our research addressed the question of, “What happens when you just give people more and more checklists – and tell them to ‘overachieve’ to get them done?” Answer: It cannot be done over a long period of time, especially in worsening conditions. Overachieving, by definition, is unsustainable.
- This is what Ukraine faces. But this also applies to any place in the world during a major disaster, or to any vulnerable population in under-resourced, higher-stressed areas (e.g., low-income communities).
- Human performance is critical to empowerment. We and others have shown human performance is based significantly on our ability to think, remember, and to focus and drive ourselves, which is basically our cognitive bandwidth, something that is critical to not only fighter pilots in jets, but also to people fighting for their lives or populations fighting poverty, as it allows humans to reason, focus and resist impulses – yet we have only a limited amount of it, which means we can only pay attention to, think about or remember a certain number of things at one time.
- And where we live – and breathe – matters. In one sense, it is true that "air is free", but poor air (not just dangerous or deadly air such as from high levels of carbon monoxide that lead to poisoning), comes with a significant cost in many crucial areas during a disaster, especially in terms of human performance and resilience.
- Education is another area. According to experts, one of the most important factors in education is "a simple willingness to learn." Students who are open to new knowledge will learn. Students who aren’t, won’t. The entire point of cognitive bandwidth is to improve not only memory encoding and recall, but also to speed up navigation of decision trees in the process of synthesizing data and activating creativity. But above all, our evidence indicates that it can improve the willpower necessary to seek data and then process it.
- Crime prevention is actually similar to education and productivity -- memory recall, navigating decision trees, and willpower. Most critical is that people need to think through the consequences of their actions. This was the basis of the Lead-Crime Hypothesis, which we think parallels the cognitive impairment of suboptimal air composition. Lead is widely understood to be highly toxic to multiple organs of the body, particularly the brain. Individuals exposed to lead are more vulnerable to learning disabilities, lower I.Q., ADHD, and problems with impulse control, all of which negatively impact decision making and could lead to the commission of crimes, especially violent crimes. Any means of improving cognitive bandwidth, we believe, will aid in reducing crime.
- Social cohesion overall, especially in global democracies, will be another benefit of increasing cognitive bandwidth, as it can change society. It does this by enabling people to think better, making them more resilient to protect themselves and others, and ensuring they are less susceptible to misinformation and irrationality (both of which are all parts of Russia's broader war that includes "information warfare”) so as not to be misled by Russian disinformation campaigns that are meant to stoke hate and division, and which intend to undermine the free world.
- Regarding just Ukraine, if disinformation looks as if it will work to the Russians, they will use it. This then puts Ukraine at greater risk. For example, one expert noted that Russia's dirty bomb claims that would happen in Ukraine were planned in great detail as a disinformation campaign, intended for world consumption, to be able to more easily deny their own culpability in a nuclear fallout attack. However, if rationality prevails in the target audience of the world, it makes the risk of consequences too great for Russia’s allies, especially India, which has spoken out against the use of nuclear tactics, likely even deterring their use thus far according to the CIA.
- In short, carbon capture, and other techniques and technologies being pioneered in Ukraine will help that nation and can help the rest of the world at the same time in an area that could present the greatest immediate risk – a world where words have no reliability and people can’t separate the truth from lies.
- Coming back to defense, it is the developing of allies that see value in working with democracies which, though not perfect by any means, tend to respect rules and human rights more than the alternative forms of government. One of the advantages of the Cooperative HROC is that for specific outcomes – focusing on the ones that most nations value for their stability and citizens – it is precisely cooperation in this “enlightened self-interest” manner that can advance the interests of more nations working together. As we have seen over the past 2 decades, in terms of global change, there is now a reality check -- where the U.S. has less power to compel outcomes, it needs better strategy to achieve its ends.
- For example, recently, the Biden Administration's national security adviser noted that old Cold War construct of blocs is not a realistic alignment anymore, as countries don’t want to choose, and we don’t want them to. Rather than trying to divide the world, the U.S. needs to seek an affirmative agenda — like infrastructure, climate, and food security. The term “net assessment” during the Cold War was about weighing the Soviet-American strategic balance, “net” of each other’s offsetting strengths and weaknesses, using this formula to calculate deterrence — and estimate what the balance might be after a nuclear exchange.
- Today, it is more about spotting trends and future prospects, and making a realistic assessment of the relative positions of the U.S. and its adversaries in what has become a truly multipolar world.
- For instance, there has been success in dramatically in bolstering American partnerships abroad: NATO is stronger than it has been for a generation and is about to add Finland and Sweden; Japan is becoming a serious defense partner; South Korea’s cooperation with the United States and Japan is better than it has been in years; and India is moving toward a strategic partnership through the Quad (the United States, Japan and Australia). This is considered a pragmatic foreign policy for today's world as it is, rather than as we would like it to be – and have no longer have the ability to change in the old traditional ways. We need new ways to get people to see the enlightened self-interest of appreciating science and math, while also seeing the benefits of adhering to rules and simply being "reliable" partners.
- One more lesson that can be garnered from what Ukraine and the West can do? How to win a war against a brutal nuclear power. We need to be preparing for nuclear war if there is a humiliating set of defeats for Russia, given the brutal, unpredictable, and even self-destructive nature of their leadership. Experts have assessed scenarios: Under what conditions would Putin be more likely than not to order a nuclear strike? Likely answer: If conditions on the battlefield force him to choose between a humiliating defeat, on one hand, and a nuclear attack that offers even a slim chance of an acceptable outcome to his war, on the other.
- If Pres. Zelensky succeeds in his current objective to liberate every square inch of Ukraine seized by Russia, including Crimea, this decisive defeat of Putin’s armies would not pose an existential threat to Russia. It would, however, pose an existential threat to Putin’s rule. If he is forced to choose between a humiliating loss and conducting a nuclear strike, the expert cited believes he will choose the latter. The reason? President John F. Kennedy came away from that the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis with a major lesson that he passed to his successors. He said in his most important foreign policy speech, just before he was assassinated: “Above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations that bring that force an adversary to choose either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war.”
- In other words, any quick and glorious victory for Ukraine would likely be a Pyrrhic victory -- one that would eventually lead to dramatic escalation that could consume all of Ukraine, but most of the world as well. If trying to avoid this nuclear confrontation, it is probably best to prepare for a long slog that wears the Russians down, then out -- similar to their exit from Afghanistan back in the 1980s. Rather than abrupt actions, it becomes more of a slow realization that it just isn't worth the loss of blood and treasure in the Russian leadership's eyes.
- This means Ukrainians need to outlast the Russians. This won’t be possible if they collapse physically, mentally, and emotionally, so every effort to reinforce their resilience should be made so they can endure the war’s many hardships.
- Finally, the benefit that may offer the greatest long-term impact on the planet from our HROC-Ukraine work is how our approach can "change the way people think" about climate change -- that greenhouse gases simply reduce your human performance, and quite significantly at that.
- One series of question could allow people to view the problem differently than most people do today (i.e., something too large and abstract, not personalized, and too far in the future to affect them DIRECTLY): "What if the car you're in gets you to where you want to go, but during that trip, has toxic levels of carbon emission buildup inside it? By the time you arrive, you don't know where you are, or even why you came there? Is that worth it? When survival is at stake, is having power to address one need (e.g., transportation) worth sacrificing problem-solving capabilities for addressing many needs?"
- The value of improving air composition, in spite of all its health benefits, is it requires interest BEYOND HEALTH (a key argument by our team member Dasha, who is a psychologist in Ukraine) OR CLIMATE CHANGE for most people to take the initial steps necessary to change the way they think.
- Our new report includes more on these findings, and the details of our project in Irpin, where we have teamed with the city's mayor, who sees the risks and opportunities found in the air each person breathes to be able to survive now and into the future.
- One of the key findings is the impact of our finding of suboptimal air composition and its impact on human performance, as it constricts the cognitive bandwidth of the human mind (and thus its thinking capacity).
- This led to the discovery that there was a different way to frame the crisis the world is seeing in climate change, such as more extreme weather and the number one cause of preventable deaths from natural disasters, which is floods.
- And that discovery is that reducing greenhouse gases can be personalized to individuals and not just the "too abstract" (and let's face it, too distant to impact everyone in a tangible way every day) concept of the planet and its future.
- How? By reorienting what Benjamin Franklin said makes a person "healthy, wealthy, and wise" to not just be our sleep schedule but rather to be our entire human performance, which itself is heavily dependent on cognitive bandwidth.
- And higher greenhouse gases and overall suboptimal air composition in the air we breathe, our research has shown, reduces cognitive bandwidth and human performance, such as in immunity, physical performance, and cognitive function -- and by up to 50% or more.
- What are some of the benefits tied to encouraging people to reduce production of, or (by using our methods we’ve identified in Ukraine) capture the carbon gases given this new tie-in to human performance?
- The project to overcome suboptimal air composition in Irpin (and then expanding to the rest of Ukraine) that our team in Ukraine helped discover appears that it can also benefit Pittsburgh neighborhoods like Oakland, the Hill, East Liberty, Homewood, etc., in terms of health, education, public safety, business opportunity, and other priorities of the city. This is something we would like to also create a dialogue between the mayor in Irpin and the city leaders in Pittsburgh, perhaps even a partnership to create economic opportunity for both cities based on the scientific discoveries.
- Pittsburgh is in a valley, which will build up “CO2 domes” (as carbon dioxide is heavier than air, thus sinks and tends to stay in place), trapping CO2 in the city. The CO2 dome risk can be further assessed based on per capita carbon footprint -- which is worse than that of N.Y.C., L.A., Chicago, and D.C., and twice as bad as Miami.
- As the figure below shows, the top cities for per capita footprint appear to be industrial in nature.
- In fact, Pittsburgh is at #6 in the U.S. per capita, and #21 in world, with 14.5 Mt CO2 total for its urban cluster of 600,000 people, based on a compiled study explained by a scientific journal, with maps by NASA, and other information. There have also been articles written on how low-income residents of the city are finding clean air is an elusive goal, as the region's air remains among the most polluted in the country.
- One study suggested by our team for Pittsburgh is on a combination of mental health crises events, crimes, and physical health events during the days most applicable to the Invisible Mask Initiative risk assessment and predictive model of where the solution likely would have made a difference, looking at the environmental factors and the relevant population, coupled with other impacts on outcomes.
- These outcomes include: 1. Immunity resilience as measured by sick days in school or work, or admission counts to hospitals, 2. Chronic care management checklists relying on cognitive bandwidth, and overall health (e.g., ambulance calls) or safety crises (e.g., 911 calls), 3. Laws and other rules adherence (e.g., criminal behavior noted by police calls) or mental health crises (e.g., suicide hotline calls), 4. Education can be evaluated by looking at student scores on standardized tests during affected days, 5. Economic productivity could be measured by employer statistics on absenteeism and presenteeism, which we believe would increase on those days of or right after suboptimal air composition
- Note that according to Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), CO2 has become identified by the US Government as a pollutant. That is, the new law amends the Clean Air Act, the country’s original air-quality legislation, to define the carbon dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuels as an "air pollutant."
- Thus, there are development dollars for cities, and subsidies for those wanting to improve their health and human performance through air composition, within the U.S. Cities such as Pittsburgh that can be used to implement the techniques we have learned in Ukraine relating to how to move away from dangerous fossil fuels into new or revamped technologies like heat pumps – manufacturing it in Pittsburgh and Irpin for personal use or for resale by people who become skilled, including those not having a college degree.
- What do we mean by “for personal use or for resale”? We want to first and foremost have a DIY approach to create the tools for improving human performance. We have found in work done with Veterans Administration that health is less of a priority than something that can help people excel in their jobs, and thus bring in more income – hence the focus on human performance.
- The DIY approach is for those at the lowest incomes that don't have money, but do have time to learn and create their own version of the tools -- and a dire need for survival essentials -- do not need to buy from any manufacturer, but can instead make their own, if they have sufficient cognitive bandwidth, which we have found is always the first step, based on our Defense projects -- "if people can't think enough, it's very difficult to do enough." More insights gained from our Defense work is the value of DIY, we determined, as the best way for the Defense Department to benefit from techniques we had pioneered in order to show rapid results the military facilities, since then they could implement the tools they needed much faster and at a lower cost.
- For those that can afford to have our team of people in Ukraine and Pittsburgh do this for them (e.g., if they can get grants, or even through the subsidies of the green energy components of the Inflation Reduction Act), this technology is something HROC would like to manufacture in a nonprofit manner that can bring these benefits to the masses (to help both individuals and the planet), as well as the jobs to lower-income community workers in both Pittsburgh and Irpin, given the DIY nature of the devices that can be made from these techniques, as well as the fact that we can make the job seem easier to the workers by increasing their own cognitive bandwidth.
- The new Climate Change provisions in the newly-signed IRA makes inventions possible from our Ukraine projects even more valuable to jobs and future economic growth and trade between the U.S. and Ukraine, since it can remove "pollution" from air in multiple ways, including now CO2, not just toxic dust, smoke, and pathogens.
- Given that heat pumps will be a key option, from our Ukraine techniques, we have a new design based on Stirling Engines which we have advanced from the older versions of the technology. It can tie heat pumps to carbon capture mechanisms we have also shown. Finally, Stirling Engines can also be used to create even more efficient solar generators.
- Currently, heat pumps are technology where demand is already rising. Demand is already skyrocketing in Europe, where surging gas prices due to the war in Ukraine have forced consumers to scramble for alternative home-heating strategies. In Germany, heat pump sales jumped 25% from 2021 to 2022. In Finland, they rose 80%. Heat pumps, which can serve as both heating and cooling systems, were once considered useful only in warmer climates. But in the past few years, they've become far more sophisticated, and are now considered by some as the best chance there is to phase out fossil fuels as a means of heating and could help move toward a climate revolution.
- In our view, perhaps more important could be a sea change event if people adopt the "peak human performance" angle we have discovered. This can create demand for tools to reduce fossil fuel use and mitigate the consequences of its past and continuing use (so as to be realistic and practical -- carbon-based fuels are still over 80% of U.S. sources of power) for the time-being, carbon capture may be a new growth area for improving not only the planet and society, but also business productivity and individual well-being and happiness. It can become similar to what computers became to leverage and increase productivity of the human mind, while also addressing the challenges facing the human body and future threats.
- Beyond the health, economic, and quality of life issues, climate change is also considered a human rights issue as many have noted (e.g., poor countries' populations are hit hardest by it, though those nations emit much less carbon emissions). However, climate change appears to be raising levels of domestic violence against women and children, irritating people not just from heat, but frustrating them when there is drought or famine as a result, and they lash out at those at home.
- Coming full circle back to defense, the adverse outcomes of climate change can impact an entire population (through violent government suppression), neighboring nations (through refugees), and -- if Russia shows it can take what it wants without consequences -- perhaps even have nations losing portions of their land as it is seized by force if a nation faces a climate change-induced extreme weather event like drought or flood that could lead to civil uprising.
- One key example is that the U.S. Department of Defense noted about the Syrian climate crisis from 2011 throughout the bulk of the rest of that decade was as a result of climate change. One reason was that climate change in the Fertile Crescent had implications of the Syrian drought that led to led to civil unrest. Before the Syrian uprising that began in 2011, the greater Fertile Crescent experienced the most severe drought in the instrumental record. For Syria, a country marked by poor governance and unsustainable agricultural and environmental policies, the drought had a catalytic effect, contributing to political unrest. Moreover, the Syrian refugee crisis also resulted from this.
- The U.S. Defense Department even did a report on this emerging global threat to world stability and national security, with the cover shown in the figure below.
- Thus, there was the creation of conflicts (civil war from famine, mass migrations creating instability in neighboring nations, and rise of unhappy populations joining terrorist groups), all shown during Syrian conflict.
- Bottom Line: It is likely that a terrorism increase (ISIS) and humanitarian disaster (Syrian Refugees) all originated from a climate change event (a drought in Syrian farmland).
- In terms of defense against conflict like Ukraine is seeing, or the U.S. and the E.U. has seen, in terms of attacks on their own soil, the world has now seen over 20 years of petrostate-funded terrorism and war.
- A new approach to move from fossil fuels to alternative, non-carbon emitting sources of energy is one technique in our approach. The other is to capture carbon, which is part of our techniques as well.
- Our overall argument is simple: To improve your own human performance, reduce greenhouse gases where you live and breathe.
- In conclusion, for the planet, society, and the free world, teaching self-reliance via human performance is what can make people better and safer, not just happier. “Changing the way people think” to not only address greenhouse gases and climate change, but to also add social cohesion by broadening of minds (i.e., giving people more mental space to think and solve problems and understand other people better) is simply one more unexpected benefit learned from working with Ukrainians focused on their survival. As the Greek philosopher Aristotle pointed out, you do indeed “derive wisdom through suffering.”
- Acknowledgments: In this progress update, we would like to thank all those who donated for our New Year's Eve online fundraiser by physicians seeking to aid Ukraine. The team in Ukraine doing this innovative work is truly appreciative of the $900 that was raised toward their efforts on New Year’s Eve.
(Note: First diagram is in Ukrainian as done with our Ukrainian team, then the same diagram in English)
2. More importantly, if it seems too difficult, we demotivate ourselves and give up while -- or without even -- trying.
12/17/22: "This Holiday Season, when we take time to reflect and count our blessings, understanding of the hardships and risks that Ukrainians face this winter can lead not only inspiration, but also to teams in Ukraine and their partners around the world innovating in ways that aid not only their survival, but also of the rest of the world's. One example: Our Ukraine team is showing -- and teaching -- that when surviving crisis, self-reliance through lifesaving human performance is the greatest gift of all."
- To explain further and elaborate on this topic:
- HROC is pleased to announce the evolution of our Invisible Mask Initiative, and our Energy Victory Gardens initiative, into becoming our new Ukraine Winter Initiative.
- It focuses on safer energy for a world at risk from energy cost rises and even fuel shortages, which is leading to the use of fuels that release more pollution -- which has an unintended consequence on people's reliability and their human performance.
- Details can be found in this new, soon-to-be-released Ukraine Public Safety Scientific Study (link: https://thinkhro.org/pdfs/PublicSafetyScientificStudy-Winter2022UAMission.pdf) for our "Winter 2022 Mission" to Ukraine, which explains the physiological and cognitive risks associated with carbon emissions such as what were formerly considered "safe" levels of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.
- But recent research by us and others show that there are adverse consequences even at relatively low levels of these gases.
- And the key research observations and findings that led to the conclusions for this document can be credited primarily to our team of researchers and problem-solvers there in the nation of Ukraine. They include those at our now registered office (Ukraine registration #: 44840272) in Kyiv and their colleagues and fellow citizens in their communities in the war-ravaged nation.
- In spite of this devastating war, advancements relevant to world problems are still possible, since, as Plato once said, "necessity is the mother of invention."
- That necessity? A new way was needed to ensure, and improve, human performance, to help endure an extremely difficult winter. This included finding safer ways to generate heat when fuel is short, make electricity when the power goes down, and ensure that health risks do not become "too urgent, too late."
- Our new report includes more on these findings, and the details of our project in Irpin, where we have teamed with the city's mayor, who sees the risks and opportunities found in the air each person breathes to be able to survive now and into the future.
- One of the key findings is the impact of our finding of "suboptimal air composition" and its impact on human performance, as it constricts the cognitive bandwidth of the human mind (and thus its thinking capacity).
- This led to the discovery that there was a different way to frame the crisis the world is seeing in climate change, such as more extreme weather and the number one cause of preventable deaths from natural disasters, which is floods.
- And that discovery is that reducing greenhouse gases can be personalized to individuals and not just the "too abstract" (and let's face it, too distant to impact everyone in a tangible way every day) concept of the planet and its future.
- How? By reorienting what Benjamin Franklin said makes a person "healthy, wealthy, and wise" to not just be our sleep schedule but rather to be our entire human performance, which itself is heavily dependent on cognitive bandwidth.
- And higher greenhouse gases and overall suboptimal air composition in the air we breathe, our research has shown, reduces cognitive bandwidth and human performance, such as in immunity, physical performance, and cognitive function -- and by up to 50% or more.
- In short, to improve your own human performance, reduce greenhouse gases where you live and breathe.
- The new initiative is the result of nearly 6 months of iterating our team’s past scientific and educational initiatives.
- In September, our Independence Day-released "P.U.U.R.E. Energy CHRO" initiative was manifested into the form of "Energy Victory Gardens."
- These new Energy Victory Gardens could serve the dual role of both generating energy from non-fossil fuel and renewable sources, while also improving the air we breathe as well as that regulates our climate, just like an organic plant-based garden would.
- This then led us to analyze how we could apply the methods researched in Ukraine could help Ukrainians in their plight for the coming winter, as well as serve the rest of humanity with these new innovations.
- This is just as President Zelenskyy told to the U.S. Congress on December 21st, 2022, saying that, “Your money is not charity…It is an investment in the global security and democracy.”
7/4/22: "On America's Independence Day and for global peace and stability, it is important we realize how dependent we and our allies still are on nations with and sources of energy that are destabilizing us. Energy is crucial to all our lives, whether it be for heat, electricity, cooling, transportation, or even in the form of food or healthcare. Without enough power, our way of life ceases. And without power, most of us would cease as well, since to support our 8 billion people on earth, 90% of them require at least electricity for water, food, heating, cooling, safety and health. Ergo, we will typically pay high prices to even to our enemies to secure it. But this jeopardizes the defense and stability of Ukraine and all nations allied with Ukraine currently -- and even does so for nations not aligned with Ukraine but could help, if they could shake the Russian energy habit to stop financing them. This is HROC’s latest initiative’s key mission."
- To explain further and elaborate on this topic:
- Given the current stakes, we believed that energy awareness needs a rebirth and revitalization in this new world. For example, awareness of where we get energy, how do we use it to make each of our individual lives better, and then how it also makes the world safer against various threats and directly (e.g., not having energy sources to power our Military and Economy) or indirectly (e.g., buying Russian oil to fund their offensive capabilities) from attack.
- So, to coincide with the US Independence Day, HROC is launching its new energy-focused initiative called the “Powering from Unreliable to Unstoppable Rebirth of Exponential” Energy Cooperative High Reliability Organization (or P.U.U.R.E. Energy CHRO). This comprehensive program’s goal is to reach a state of "Individual Energy Independence and Export" (or “IE squared”) in order to increase various forms of energy available in the world through new inventions and innovations.
- Its mission is reducing reliance on Russian Energy and support the Ukrainians in their war, while HROC's new innovation lab in Ukraine seeks to help the world achieve greater energy independence from Russian fossil fuels and other materials from Russia as well. Our lab wants to innovate to help the thousands of shelters in Ukraine prepare for what will be a difficult, if not dangerous, winter. And it would try and do this innovating with the world's participation, and would offer this reciprocity to help everyone's own homes and communities in line with a mission summed up by this quote: "Help Ukraine prepare for a war-torn Winter -- and let Ukraine help you prepare for this winter too (Mr. / Ms. World Citizen)."
- An example of how much impact an approach like this can make can be found in the Victory Gardens encouraged during World War 2. Planting Victory Gardens helped make sure that there was enough food for our soldiers fighting around the world during WW2, helping with food resources, the nation's morale, and the human morality of sacrifice and cooperation. Because canned vegetables were rationed, Victory Gardens also helped people stretch their ration coupons (the amount of certain foods they were allowed to buy at the store). In 1942, roughly 15 million families planted victory gardens. By 1944, an estimated 20 million victory gardens produced roughly 8 million tons of food. This was the equivalent of more than 40% of all the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in the United States.
- The specific areas will be in heat, electric power, and carbon capture, all items that will be crucial this winter for not only Ukrainian shelters, but also to the free world being held hostage to Russian energy, such as Europe (as Russia cuts off gas supplies), or to encourage and more importantly enable nations like India to reduce their reliance on Russian Energy, thus not contributing to the Russian war effort while it helps all the people of the nation in all economic classes to ensure lower energy costs are available to them rather than Russian energy.
- The analogy these shelters will face is similar to the Apollo 13 mission, which saved the lives of astronauts braving extreme elements and risks. This was accomplished with the help of a Mission Control which was helping solve problems in real time (as depicted in the 1995 movie "Apollo 13" and showcased the challenges confronted -- and solved -- in remarkable fashion).
- We look forward to sharing more details of this initiative as we can expand it beyond our Ukraine Innovation Lab.
6/26/22: "Completion of the draft video, and establishment of link on YouTube, of the "In Memoriam" video, to highlight the the tragic fates of the victims in Ukraine. The In Memoriam videos will be put in more complete forms, and in both Ukrainian and English versions, on the Ukrainian team's already-existing channel, as HROC's leadership had stated its intent that proceeds of these In Memoriam videos remain with the Ukraine team directly, even while this video was created with the support of the U.S. office and team."
- To explain further and elaborate on this topic:
- Here is the first war-documenting video, and is labeled as "Ukraine - In Memoriam video 2022 06 01" (with special thanks to Океан Ельзи for the song Місто Марії used in this video). It is "An in memoriam for just a few of the countless lives lost in Ukraine in this war." The next video the team is working on for future release is: "Ukraine In Memoriam: Telling the story of those who can no longer speak for themselves" (with English subtitles). The videos after these In Memoriam videos will concentrate on more of the DIY videos to help prepare Ukrainians for the coming winter, in an intiative that will focus on energy as well as health. In these videos, beyond further documenting atrocities, we will note how our Ukranian office will be trying to help the world with our efforts on what we've learned, dedicated to the memories of all we have lost.
6/3/22: "Innovating to conditions on the ground to be able to preserve and defend logistics by giving protective wear (especially Kevlar vests) to drivers – but also evaluating for the degree of safety afforded by the protective wear. (Note: This protective wear will be accompanied by a DIY video to instruct people that Kevlar vests by themselves will not stop the latest Russian assault rifle in use, which is the AK-12)."
- To explain further and elaborate on this topic:
- For actual safety in the event of a direct hit, given the power and nature of the ammunition fired from AK-12 rifles, flat metal should be also be found in the surrounding area, and then belted, duct taped or glued over the vest to slow down the bullet sufficiently, else it can pierce the typical kevlar vest. Our first order of protective wear for testing the Ukraine delivery and distribution is today.
5/31/22: "Innovating to conditions on the ground to be able to charge drones, since solar is often inadequate. But also helping in shelters where it is often night or too dark for solar charging, but it is important to have electric power for smartphones, laptops, and water purification available."
- To explain further and elaborate: (video upcoming)
- Drone monitoring, as our footage (to be posted later in a compilation video) near the Russian front shows, helps provide an early warning to provide more lead time to prepare or evacuate. It also can be used to deliver medical supplies under the right circumstances.
- Unfortunately, charging drones is often too intense for the power generation of solar, so our team’s experience in hand-cranked chargers is a new innovation to provide the front.
- However, it will first be used in shelters. We have just ordered the first hand-cranked charger to test for the drone charging before shipping it along with smartphones to a shelter near Lviv, Ukraine.
5/27/22: "Our team delivering medical supplies near Bahmut City, then performing rescue and evacuation due to a bombing." For example, while Douglas, who has been delivering supplies in Eastern Ukraine, was out he saw this explosion.
- To explain further and elaborate: (video upcoming)
- It happened within only 100 yards or so from him and the team.
- Here, they provide not only first responder work by loading a seriously injured person into the back of our team’s van, but they also support the last line of defense for the freedom of the Eastern Ukraine region. In fact, Douglas was recently recognized for bravery and acts of valor during his help in protecting Irpin, by the Ukrainian government in a document they sent him.
- We don't know how the team there on the Eastern Front of Ukraine perseveres through tragedies such as these, but as a result of their video logs, we learn what is happening and what is needed in these war- torn areas.
- It also fuels our belief that we have to get these messages out on these "worst case scenarios" and that we must help mitigate the situation in any way we can, finding ways to improve terrible situations with what's available at the moment until everything that could more ideally help arrives, since too often that is not soon enough.
5/26/22: "Douglas sent outstanding videos on the original solar panels we took to Kyiv through Poland being put to use in the field in his civil defense role." Based on our sources, we are one of only a handful of international NGOs in operation inside with a Kyiv office and aiding throughout all of Ukraine.
- To explain further and elaborate: (video upcoming)
- This includes the Eastern front, to be able to provide supplies like medicine, but also now power systems due to our assessment trip to Medyka, Poland, which expanded into an assessment of Kyiv, Ukraine.
- Again, our mission in Ukraine is “make higher reliability more feasible.” And without electric power, people in these devastated areas have no means to stay connected via their smartphones or laptops, or to even get basic necessities like clean water, since power is needed for water purification systems.
5/26/22: "Our supply line contact in Poland, Felipe, just confirmed that our solar panel/generator shipment has left Medyka to go to Kyiv." This shipment is 12 panels and two generators, and was intended to test the supply line for follow on shipments.
5/25/22: “Our first webinar with components taught to the U.S. Military on our Cooperative HRO model for making High Reliability feasible by force multiplying available resources to maximize the benefits from limited time and resources.” These videos and the follow-on webinar videos help explain what we believe will ultimately enable the decimated Ukrainian health system to see twice as many patients as they would be able to care for without harnessing this unique model.
- To explain further and elaborate on this topic:
- This model manages “cognitive resources” in a way not possible before the invention and its culture change and predictive models. Some of the videos are self-explanatory, but some require narration.
- With the help of our team's CHRO training and guidance, to enable them to more quickly or even proactively offload tasks from care staff crucial "fungible" (i.e., shift-able) tasks.
- This includes the key ones of 1. The patient history (since 2/3rds of diagnoses can be made by trained clinician from just patient history, as opposed to using expensive, scarce equipment), and 2. The documentation needs (to disseminate to full care team and patient/family, to know what to do, and what not to do, in order to reduce unplanned revisits that consume health staff time and care resources).
- Also our other peer-reviewed projects' findings on administrative and medical assistant tasks that can be offloaded from doctor or physician assistant/nurse practitioner (e.g., triaging vital signs, finding/tracking medications and equipment, placing orders if local rules allow, scheduling visits for tests/treatments/other clinicians, explaining possible medication side-effects so people are prepared and not alarmed, answering patient questions, doing follow-up on patient, etc., as noted in our Johns Hopkins project and its peer reviewed articles).
5/24/22: “Our cost-benefit analysis for our first kit assembly video toward preventing and mitigating respiratory infections (a significant danger in Ukraine presently).”" Note this Cost-Benefit Analysis was calculated for Poland and Ukraine, during our assessment, in the event of new escalation and another evacuee / refugee crisis:
- To explain further and elaborate on this topic:
- A wartime scenario illustrates how much of an impact this can have. For example, if we assume that from injuries to body that keep people bedridden, intense particulates from shelling, and traumatic brain injuries from explosions or falling objects, or even just people eating too fast because they are worried they have to keep moving, they will be at much higher risk of a respiratory infection (which are prevalent in refugees) called aspiration pneumonia.
- Aspiration pneumonia is pneumonia caused by something other than air being inhaled (aspirated) into your respiratory tract. These non-air substances can be food, liquid, saliva, stomach contents, toxins or even small foreign objects. Aspiration of food or drink is quite common. When someone says that food "went down the wrong pipe,” it means that food or drink went toward their lungs instead of stomach. When this happens, normally they cough until they feel better.
- However, when the same sort of thing happens to someone who isn’t able to cough the food or drink out of their lungs, aspiration pneumonia may result. Aspiration pneumonia symptoms include: 1. Shortness of breath (dyspnea) or wheezing. 2. Coughing up blood or pus. 3. Chest pain. 4. Bad breath. 5. Extreme tiredness. These symptoms of aspiration (inhaling something adverse) start very quickly, even one to two hours after inhaling something one shouldn’t have. It then may take a day or two for pneumonia to develop.
- Aspiration pneumonia appears more severe than the common form of pneumonia. One study noted that people with aspirational pneumonia were much more likely to check into a hospital, stay in intensive care, or pass away from the illness compared to people with community-acquired pneumonia.
- Life-threatening complications can occur if the person has gone too long without treatment or has a compromised immune system. The outlook on survival depends on state of health prior to the event, the type of foreign material that is aspirated into the lungs, and any other conditions person has. Most people (79%) will survive aspiration pneumonia.
- But that also means 21% of people who won’t survive it, even in normal times.
- In a wartime scenario, we estimate that at least 5% of the warzone residents and evacuees of around 10 million people, though likely even a higher percentage given fighting forces in the field, could get this condition of aspiration pneumonia.
- At a 20% mortality rate for advanced stages, according to one study, that would be 100,000 people in Ukraine or neighboring nations that could die due to the respiratory infection during the war.
- So, this aspiration pneumonia kit, of which we seek to distribute raw materials and instructions, alone is worth focusing on to save lives and reduce strain on health resources in Ukraine and neighboring nations.
- For example, typically when there isn’t a war, a portable x-ray machine could be used at homes. However, it can cost $40,000 that is the size of a suitcase and quite delicate and thus not portable by most families in a warzone, even if they could somehow afford it.
- But a wartime alternative for certain pneumonias can be a $15 pulse oximeter, and where a family can carry two in a handbag (though we recommend keeping them in different baggage in case one is lost or damaged). By taking baseline readings per person, and monitoring blood oxygen levels via the pulse oximeter to make sure they don’t hit the trigger of 91% or less, and are not dropping fast either, we can detect an aspiration pneumonia, or the likely risk of it, in its early stages.
- Moreover, preventing one septic shock patient from a respiratory infection not only saves a life 25% to 50% of the time depending on other risks, and costs in normal situations at least $15,000. Most importantly, it often requires a ventilator that is only available in a hospital -- and those hospitals may only be in a neighboring nation like Poland. This would thus force a family to try and make it across the border to help a seriously ill family member, risking their lives, straining health workers, and taking up scarce ventilators and other hospital equipment.
- And this is during Covid and other increases in other respiratory and wound infections that lead to organ failure that would require those workers and equipment.
- A typical ventilator costs well over $100,000, not portable since often at least the size of a bed, and rather easy to damage.
- Thus, there is our prevention-based approach, with knowledge we have gained from our defense work published in peer-reviewed journals (e.g., “A Physician Partnership” which showed how to reduce hospital readmissions by 50% by enabling better learning by patients to perform better self-care “upstream” to avoid coming to see a doctor).
- It is of course not perfect, but it is better than no diagnosis and treatment at all (basically, it just has a higher margin of error than a doctor diagnosing and treating in the hospital).
- And there are also many telemedicine doctors that can help if power and communications infrastructure is up.
- But when power and communications infrastructure are down, our kit would allow people to at least play downloaded videos on their phone and use the raw or simple materials we would provide in our kits.
- Once we identify an aspiration pneumonia is a risk, what can prevent an aspiration pneumonia from developing or getting worse?
- Using the antibiotic of Ampicillin given orally (i.e., by mouth) can make a significant difference. Generics available of a course of it is only $18 (though in the U.S., by prescription only). Oral Ampicillin can effectively treat an early-stage aspiration pneumonia – it can be reasonably effective for someone in a war zone where hospitals and IVs etc. are not available. Effectiveness depends on the severity of aspiration.
- However, you can always increase the oral dosage per the symptoms. Intravenous antibiotics for later stages of aspiration pneumonia (like Clindamycin) are not always required and can be avoided. Many pharmacies / apothecaries will give these antibiotics out to the right organizations for the right /cause.
- The type of antibiotics for intravenous administration generally come in vile as powder form. Those last a long time so long as the seals aren't broken.
- As far as oral antibiotics, they too can last a long time in their containers with intact seals. It is very easy to add saline to the powdered antibiotics and shake it up and then administer through an IV.
- Given the scenario outlined above, and given the 100,000 Ukrainians (the ones who would likely die of aspiration pneumonia), it is important to realize that that typically 4 times that number will likely have required intensive care, perhaps including ventilators.
- If just 10% of these 400,000 refugees try and reach Poland, that is 40,000 people requiring significant healthcare resources for just this one major disease likely to afflict Ukrainians if we can’t prevent it upstream.
- That is 10,000 deaths and 40,000 intensive care patients (which in the U.S. would cost over $600 million).
- We seek to prevent 90% of this figure. Other infections we would expect from warzones in Ukraine: Covid, Community Acquired Pneumonia, tuberculosis, wound infections, and infections from uncontrolled diabetes.
- Even simple treatments like washing with soap, may be delayed or not possible (e.g., a lack of clean water to quickly and properly wash wounds and clean bandages). This will add to increased infections from wounds and is why alternatives should be put in place in our kits.
- But starting with kits of simply pulse oximeters and Ampicillin, coupled with low-cost or used smartphones to help instruct, could offer an effective way toward preventable costs of $15,000 per case for around $100 of cost for prevention for those families that are going into more dangerous areas of Ukraine (e.g., with less infrastructure, as well as active combat). And most importantly a preventable death as well.
- Ultimately, a key aim of our efforts is to serve as both a metaphorical "fire alarm" for revealing attacks and atrocities, and a "fire department" to help put out the fires of those attacks and atrocities, by making the evacuee and refugee population, as well as host nation population, more resilient and reliable.
- [Sources: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21954-aspiration-pneumonia#diagnosis-and-tests ; https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322091 ; https://www.healthline.com/health/aspiration-pneumonia#takeaway ; https://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/blog/purchasing-insight-portable-x-ray ; https://www.uclahealth.org/u-magazine/low-cost-ventilator-prototype-could-provide-support-in-covid-19-pandemic ; https://www.goodrx.com/ampicillin/what-is]
5/23/22: “Our first kit assembly video is prepared to help provide a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to preventing and mitigating respiratory infections, which are a significant danger in Ukraine presently” (credit to Reece Odom and Ryan Odom for research and technical assistance)
- To explain further and elaborate on this topic:
- This is an example of our mantra that "The perfect is the enemy of better -- especially when things are at their worst…" can be found in our work in dangerous respiratory infections.
- An analogy is that it is like stratification or triage of the "power-up" procedures used during the Apollo 13 mission when a catastrophic failure occurred, but the crisis was still managed well enough to return all the astronauts safely. During power up, it was noted that sequencing or elimination of tasks that -- though they don't solve all risks or problems the way we would want in normal times – in these times will offer the only practical option during a time of extreme crisis and stress for those not fully trained or lacking important resources.
- This is when we need to overcome "the perfect is the enemy of the good" dogma, as improvisation often requires much more mental effort (i.e., cognitive bandwidth for creative problem solving) to perform at a level that can achieve an absolute, or at least higher relative, success in the end. Our goal is not to eliminate the risks, but to rather improve the odds of survival and reduce the risk of collapse of the care team, at various levels, including of host nations. It is basically "every little bit helps", since when mistakes become apparent, clinicians tend to become more careful (deliberately or even subconsciously), taking longer to care for patients, reducing throughput, and thus capacity. That then allows infections to get worse, taking up even more resources later, thus reducing capacity further, and threatening the entire system with collapse.
- In the Apollo 13 space mission, the Astronaut Ken Mattingly was in the simulator to assist the astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert, who were all trapped perilously in a severely debilitated spacecraft. While trying to determine these power-up procedures remotely for the astronauts in space, Mattingly's famous answer to the question "Need a break, Ken?" was, simply, "If they don't get one, I don't get one."
- To conserve scarce resources and precious time, people must avoid major errors and wrong decisions, as well as ensure creative problem solving can be done well. All of these objectives require "cognitive bandwidth" -- that is, what is also known as "time to think." Moreover, to avoid the "corruption" that leads systems, personnel, and processes to poorly use, or even outright lose, these scarce resources, people must ensure accountability and reliability (i.e., everyone can count on them). This means critical people must all learn, and be willing and able to follow the rules and checklists.
- For healthcare, we can use the example of a CT scan, which often is used to determine if the brain is bleeding inside the skull after a car crash. Yes, CT scans can detect brain hemorrhages. But "connecting the dots" on symptoms can also do that. This can eliminate the radiation risk from the CT scan that could lead to a cancer developing down the road.
- However, beyond the safety risk of this type of test, there is also the conservation of a scarce resource. A key reason a CT scan is considered to cost $500 per scan is that the cost of one component -- namely the bulb, which can cost $250,000 -- and has only a limited number of times it can be used before needing replaced. And as with any bulb, they are also breakable and not only costly to replace, but in a warzone difficult to find. Hence why it is so critical to try and find ways to find ways to diagnoses without the CT scanner, if possible.
- A CT scan or another form of radiology -- they x-ray machine -- can also be used to detect or diagnose Covid or aspiration pneumonia. For either disease, we are looking for "opacity" (i.e., "opaqueness"), and if the opacity is deeper in the lungs (i.e., in the lower lobes of the lungs) in the x-ray or CT, we know the odds are higher of Covid or aspiration pneumonia.
- However, we can also diagnose these diseases pretty well (not as good, but still reasonably good) just from symptoms and a $15 PulseOximeter device for detecting oxygen levels in the bloodstream. PulseOx is not as good as an x-ray or CT, but is not only better than nothing, but also useful based on significant scientific evidence. So the key question we asked ourselves is, "Do we hope, and wait, for the perfect? Or do we do something immediately now?" To us, the answer was clear. Get a PulseOx device and a course of Augmentin or Ampicillin to include in shipments to Ukraine as quickly as possible, to get better prevention that saves lives and avoids the need for over $100,000 to treat very sick patients when trying to rebuild a healthcare system in a war-torn nation.
- Here is the basic scientific argument for the kit: About $100 in relatively abundant and durable items in our kit can prevent over $100,000 in costs of staffing, equipment, and facilities that may not even exist to save a patient. More details will be upcoming in a more detailed cost-benefit analysis. And below is an optimized way of assembling the kit on your own to be able to get this higher level of safety and health when evacuating or traveling throughout Ukraine.
Steps to assemble the DIY kit to protect from respiratory ailments and infections
5/20/2022: Began instructing on our Canadian office's research against Covid-19 and respiratory infections called the "Invisible Mask Initiative" and its evidence-based checklist. This is important not only in Ukraine, but also in Poland and other nations that are hosting refugees that had to endure poor conditions and could not adhere to social distancing, etc.
- To explain further and elaborate on this topic:
- The Invisible Mask Initiative (IMI) is based on scientific research in Covid-19, as well as proven techniques and methods that enable cost-effective High Reliability Organizations.
- IMI reduces spread of respiratory infections at locations via “science and compliance” help.
- The Cooperative HRO Rapid Response Teams in an areas would work with our partner organization that does air quality data intelligence to measure the risk of airborne infectious disease transmission in buildings, then take the necessary actions, such as the IMI checklist.
- This is a way to further protect public health, via micro-targeted measures and by managing exposure risk for all IMI stakeholders throughout the community, both in the winter as well as the summer, when people are indoors more often and in drier air conditions, whether from dry heat of furnaces or dehumidified air from air conditioning (for comfort reasons, yet which is ironically more dangerous).
- Prevents spread of Covid and its variants, as well as other respiratory infections. It also reduces the impact of toxic dust.
- Overview of IMI: The principle is simple -- the greatest risk of serious infection is when humidity is at its lowest (for multiple reasons).
- Static electricity warns us of that condition, and solving for that can reduce infectiousness by up to 70%.
- This can help wherever there is poor vaccination rates, mask use, or social distancing practices.
- However, there must be "buy-in" of measures, and the least amount of work -- or even knowledge -- necessary to reduce the risk of becoming infected with high viral loads (which are what cause the most serious infections, as they overwhelm the bodies own immune system).
- It is important because lockdowns occur because cities do not want to overwhelm the finite number of hospitals and especially ICU beds, since that means they will need to then ration care, leading to agonizing choices of who lives and dies (not to mention future lawsuits or even physical threats to the lives of the doctors and nurses involved). Moreover, the pandemic's toll is that of doctors and nurses leaving the industry, with many retiring or moving to other jobs [source: “Hospitals Face Severe Staffing Shortages” https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/other/us-hospitals-pushed-to-financial-ruin-as-nurses-quit-en-masse/ar-AAS1JqW].
- Thus, we must "flatten the curve" to make sure that the spread is slower, thus reducing the number of people requiring ER and hospital care in a city. This is especially true for small towns, since many either never had hospitals, or they have shut down over the past decade.
- Learning the Checklist: Invisible Mask Initiative's learning time is estimated to take: 1 minute review of checklist x 3 times checklist reviewed = 3 minutes to learn.
- Background Research: https://trajasenan.medium.com/managing-humidity-anywhere-an-immediate-painless-science-based-solution-to-beating-any-killer-8bc95d4da5a2
- HROC’s Canadian Office Childrens Video on Air Moisture: https://www.tiktok.com/@hroc_social/video/6965286702038420741?lang=en&is_copy_url=0&is_from_webapp=v1&sender_device=pc&sender_web_id=6951944368722839046
- HROC’s Canadian Office Childrens Video on Masks: https://www.tiktok.com/@hroc_social/video/6962647373009014021?lang=en&is_copy_url=0&is_from_webapp=v1&sender_device=pc&sender_web_id=6951944368722839046
Steps in the IMI checklist to protect from respiratory ailments and infections
5/19/2022: The takeaways based on our mission is that a Cooperative HRO can indeed "make higher reliability more feasible" as we discussed in an article our scientific team published in a peer reviewed journal. That is because of validation of our belief that the Ukraine-focused efforts we are doing follow the mantra of: "The perfect is the enemy of better -- especially when things are at their worst…" – and this will become the tagline for all of HROC's future humanitarian initiatives.
5/18/2022: “Returned from assessment [by our U.S. advisory board member] for this initial trip to help Ukraine and our [European Union] allies.” By some measures our largest economic partner as well. This region does impact the United States, and most often shares our values and desires for freedom.
- To explain further and elaborate on this topic:
- Ultimately, the trip was cost-effective, coming in under budget substantially, while also yielding significantly more than we expected from an assessment mission -- sometimes, in certain critical ways, the innovations and ability to change are done better once experts (in this case, experts in reliability) are on the ground, which was a key hope of this mission.
- The end result of this mission was the unexpected expansion of HROC into Ukraine from the trip, to help offer Ukrainians staying in or returning to the nation a safer and improved life, as well as the neighboring nations a chance to reduce the strain they are facing to their health systems, infrastructure, and economic reserves all required as assistance during their noble humanitarian efforts.
5/17/2022: “Developed plan for increasing support throughout all of Ukraine, wherever needs are most acute.”
- To explain further and elaborate on this topic:
- With the first supply line having been proven from Medyka, Poland, to Kyiv, Ukraine, our Ukraine team is also embarking on serving as a supply line from Kyiv to Eastern and Southern Ukraine.
- There are limited NGOs actively in Kyiv and its east currently, but our new, remarkable team members have given us the eyes, ears, and boots on the ground to identify and understand problems, as well as to assess in advance what may be useful, and finally to test the usefulness in our studies before distributing and educating people on the optimal use of the materials by directing to our videos we are now developing.
- Our 501c3's charter of public safety, education, and scientific study, leading to an immediate focus on health and safety, which includes smartphones and solar chargers to support healthcare and connectivity for information. But there appears to be so many other ways we can help the people of Ukraine survive and recover, complementing their resilience and commitment to overcoming adversity.
5/16/2022: “Formalized the aid transfer from our visiting advisor to the new HROC advisors Douglas and Igor, who said the solar chargers will help immediately.” This proved our ability to have a supply line as well as evacuation team using our remarkable Ukrainian team. Also did more assessment of the area and the damage, yet infrastructure still surprisingly intact.
- To explain further and elaborate on this topic:
Our solar panel shipment made it to Kyiv
5/15/2022: “Our HROC advisory team members assessed the damage around Kyiv.”
- To explain further and elaborate on this topic:
- Douglas, shown to the left in the photo, is the newest HROC Advisory Board member, and is a well-known documentary film maker in Hollywood.
- He showed up the first day of the war and told the squad he was with that he wasn’t going to just document them dying, so he spent the next two months helping defend Kyiv with Igor (the person on the right, actively involved as part of the Military in the defense of Ukraine) and his territorial unit.
Assessing the situation in Kyiv
Our new HROC-Kyiv team members
5/15/2022: Our HROC advisory team viewing HROC's new office address in Kyiv. The new office's address is:
02088, Kyiv, Ukraine Yevhenia Kharchenka street, 42 D
- To explain further and elaborate on this topic:
5/14/2022: "Kyiv and the remote areas near the front are in far deeper need than Medyka. Medyka has become more of a transit point for those Ukrainians coming into Poland and going onward to Warsaw and other European cities, as well as now going back into Ukraine."
- To explain further and elaborate on this topic:
- In fact, the Economist has said that there are now more Ukrainians going back into Ukraine than those coming out of Ukraine.
- "As Russia’s invasion stalls, Ukraine’s refugees return home. More Ukrainians are leaving Poland than entering", link: https://click.e.economist.com/?qs=8c8442918b9e02c54fdd7221fbeb196506167a61ae50d450b361c4d1f704770983d664fc7abcef1dd224add2f671563cb018a35287401d1ce974e8ce693a3cdc
- We also found out that smartphones not needed in the cities but are needed in smaller locations where evacuees have fled our other Ukrainian team members have told us.
- But we have new cellphones that we can ship through another HROC partner toward Lviv, where we have been told they are needed.
- We received a pledged donation of old smartphones, that needed to be reset and cleared by another one of our advisory board members, but will be sent within 2 weeks through our new NGO partner.
5/13/2022: "We have offered cellphones to serve as spares for our broken ones caused by the war, thanks to this effort."
- - Distribution network in Poland and Ukraine, after delivery by HROC of cellphones from HROC's mission to Medyka, Poland
5/13/2022: Delivery of solar chargers (for use by cellphones) to Medyka, Poland, by our Advisory Board Member on the ground
5/12/2022: HROC advisor update: "As a transit point, the Poles and EU have done a fantastic job of taking in the refugees and dispersing them across the EU to avoid large scale refugee camps with their attendant issues. There are UNHCR booths/tents as soon as they come across to let them know their options. And buses running non-stop to take them places they want. From what [our advisor] had witnessed, it took them to the main train terminal in Przemysl. There is a large grocery store right on site at the border crossing. But food, clothing, and medical care is provided free by all the NGOs as soon as any refugee comes across the border. Most importantly, solar chargers were received well and are definitely necessary, for ‘cellphones, laptops, and portable water purification’ [our advisor] was told by NGOs in Medyka."
5/12/2022: "I've learned from the HROC public safety initiatives what soft target risks are (such as risks for IEDs and suicide bombings), how to avoid them myself, and how to warn others. And as I see and learn, I know that now I can apply to HROC's work program in Canada and the U.S. to be able to share my first-hand experiences with others."
- - Evacuee #2 (an Internally Displaced Person within Ukraine) discussing the public safety initiatives
5/11/2022: "I was getting bleeding ulcers in my nasal passages and worrying about what was happening. From the HROC initiatives, I've already learned to watch for static electricity and high dust patterns on black surfaces I monitor (and electrical tape we are putting in key areas) to be the 'warning signs' for low humidity (and thus drier, less protected respiratory passages) and high toxic dust risks that can lead to infections now or cancer later, reminding me when to use my masks."
- - Evacuee #1 (an Internally Displaced Person within Ukraine) discussing the public health initiatives
- To explain further and elaborate on this topic:
- Notes on the science: Humidity helps our immune system's “first line of defense” against any respiratory infection or toxic substance. Below are some examples where prolonged unprotected exposure can be fatal.
- HROC's research showed the epicenters for Covid outbreaks were wherever a larger number of people were indoors – such as office buildings, retail establishments, or simply social events – in low-humidity areas. And not just states like Arizona, given dry or dehumidified air conditioning in public spaces, but especially dry heat in winter when humidity was most often less than 35%
- A major health system, which has published with our team in the past, in 2018 said "Seventeen years out from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, nearly 10,000 first responders and others who were in the World Trade Center area have been diagnosed with cancer. More than 2,000 deaths have been attributed to 9/11 illnesses. It will get worse. By the end of 2018, many expect that more people will have died from their toxic exposure from 9/11 than were killed on that terrible day."
- The challenge Ukraine will face is that in some regions of the country, there are not even any hospitals left. This means little ability to treat present-day victims of this exposure to prevent future tragedies such as this toxic dust crisis which will be emerging.
5/10/2022: HROC's first advisor to Poland - Warsaw arrival travelogue: "Thought the only issues would be with Polish customs explaining the new phones and solar generators. But problems at the customs point, so this is an option to bring in supplies without much hassle. What was interesting in Warsaw is that T-Mobile seemed to work better here than in the states. But that was right at the airport."
5/9/2022: "Two of my friends and fellow HROC colleagues told me of their friend, who helped at the 9/11 attack site as a first responder and in rescue/recovery, that died of cancer in just 7 years from that 'toxic dust' environment. Then I told my colleagues in Ukraine that could be happening in Kyiv given what I'd seen."
- - Leader of Ukrainian team discussing interviews with HROC's broader task force for Ukraine and those inside Ukraine
5/6/2022: Developed contact in the Polish government, Malwina Piaskowska-Łacek, due to our proposal. Her title is Attaché from the Department of Development Cooperation in Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Poland (www.gov.pl/dyplomacja ; https://twitter.com/PolandMFA). She was very helpful to our cause, such as telling us the taxes and rules for sending humanitarian aid to Ukraine, which she noted could be found on the dedicated website of the Ministry of Finance:
- To explain further and elaborate on this topic:
- It seemed as though we actually got more response from the Polish government (maybe due to higher prioritization and credibility) after our advisors arrived and were on the ground in Medyka.
- It did also help that we had a translator, Agnieszka Wdowik-Melfi, and a wonderful team (led by one of our Advisory Board members retired from the Navy) of dedicated Polish speakers with key contacts in Poland providing reconnaissance, Ukrainians, and even Russian exiles dedicated to humanitarian efforts and peaceful cooperation.
- Shipping and taxes increased the cost by 80%. Our team determined that there would be no import tax for these humanitarian supplies into Poland, given our charitable NGO status. There is also an NGO in California shipping directly into Lviv Ukraine that has offered to deliver without shipping costs.
- We also have a Polish contact to receive goods now in the Medyka area to aid the camps, in case there is an escalation of the war and refugees begin to return.
Our HROC-Ukraine office, with its communications and video production experts, and our offices in the U.S. and Canada, will combine our medical experts, analysts, scientists, inventors, engineers, and Military Veterans (who have been in multiple combat zones, such as Afghanistan), help ensure we can:
- Document recent acts of terror -- Beyond credible sources' news on the atrocities of this war, there is more that needs documenting not only the horrors of the war, but also the happier times of Ukrainians we have lost whose story we believe not only needs to be told, but is also a lesson for us all. There is also the need to document the current struggles and immediate needs of the population in practical terms (i.e., how to survive in a war zone).
- Help Ukrainians to survive -- Staying healthy or recovering to health when the critical infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, and ensuring health and safety checklist adherence -- even in the face of “task saturation” and panic.
- Help Ukrainians to win the war -- Global economic and military support relies on popular support from host nations for refugees, and Western nations staying true to sanctions and continuing massive arms shipments. Breaking through the Russian, Chinese, and other disinformation "noise" out there making people doubt own common sense about who started this war, and doubt their own eyes about the horrors of the war.
- Help Ukrainians to keep the peace and show the value of a free world -- Disinformation was the basis for this war. Blocking the disinformation noise from above from false charges (e.g., the Moldova "terrorist attacks" claimed against Russians, that Russia may use as a pretense to invade Moldova next, as well as false claims that Ukraine is attacking railway systems in Russia) to ensure that the world stays strongly aligned against Russian attacks. "Never Again" means "Never Forgetting" and not falling for “Big Lies.”
Your donation to the work shown on this page helps us acquire supplies and equipment that can benefit this team, virtually all of whom are working inside the nation of Ukraine, and helps us to directly support people living inside Ukraine. Thus, it supports their livelihoods and Ukraine’s economy in the process. These Ukrainian team members, in turn, help many more Ukrainians, creating a virtuous cycle that helps in ways that grow beyond your initial contributions. Ultimately, this is for a nation of people that have demonstrated a tenacity and commitment to hold onto, and sacrifice for, what the free world treasures – cooperation, resilience, and reliability – and offers a model for the rest of the world to learn and improve from Ukraine’s struggles and triumphs.