Jon Zurfluh

Some Thoughts about Crisis Planning

During the vacation, we have all been monitoring the situation in Ukraine and, of course, there is ongoing concern about the potential for escalation and other factors of the war some distance to our east.  Last Spring, we received and continue to receive supportive and helpful messages from the US Embassy as our partner keeping us informed.  To date, we have received only reinforcing notices of relative safety here in Poland.  But, we also have examined and continue to review our preparedness posture, using what we have learned from other recent events to evaluate risk and plan for action when it is required.  Our Crisis Plan is available for all to review and it is regularly updated.

One recurring question that has been hitting my desk recently is regarding the potential for nuclear-related incidents that might emerge.  A few parents and our staff have read news articles about local planning here in Poland for public safety in this regard.  It involves public health preparation for the distribution of potassium iodide in the case of a nuclear event.  Specific guidance has been distributed by the US Embassy on this topic and additional information is online, even though the continued guidance remains that this is unlikely.  But, as with our Crisis Plan, we must be prepared and our medical staff under WarsawMed has been in contact with local officials to make sure the school is part of the process should it be required.  Recent US Embassy guidance is provided and paraphrased as follows:

This Management Notice is part of the U.S. government’s longstanding policy to promote emergency preparedness.  It also complements the Polish government’s recently announced potassium iodide (KI) distribution plan through Fire Departments and Schools.  There is no known radiation threat to personnel, and the Embassy has not made any changes to its readiness posture.  The purpose of this notice is to provide additional information about emergency preparedness and planning.

As events continue to unfold in Ukraine and the surrounding region, the US Embassy Health Unit has received questions concerning the availability of potassium iodide (KI) prophylaxis as a protective measure against radioactive iodine (I-131) resulting from a radiological event.  The US FDA has concluded that the effectiveness of KI as a specific blocker of thyroid radioiodine uptake is well-established, as is the dose necessary for blockage.  As such, it is reasonable to conclude that KI will likewise be effective in reducing the risk of thyroid cancer in individuals or populations at risk for inhalation or ingestion of radioiodine.  The US FDA guidance is the definitive US guidance on medical aspects of KI prophylaxis.

In the event of an imminent risk for exposure, adults under the age of 40 will be given potassium iodide tablets with clear instructions in dosing, indications for use, side effects, and contraindications.  Clear instructions will also be provided for dosing with regard to children.  Potassium iodide tablets are not to be taken unless instructed to do so by Medical Staff operating under the relevant health authorities.

Depending on the proximity to the source of radioactive iodine, recommendations such as leaving the affected area or sheltering in place are far more important.  As various crisis plans prescribe, we urge staff and families to follow guidance from the Embassy and/or host nation authorities for these suggestions.

WarsawMed, on behalf of the school, has maintained contact with local authorities who control the supplies of potassium iodide (KI) to assure that we will have access in the Konstancin area which has jurisdiction for the schools in the area.  If you have questions regarding KI, you can reach out to aswhealth@aswarsaw.org with further questions.

New and Aspiring Board Member Training

Each year, I offer training sessions for aspiring board members. This can include preparing for a position on our Board of Trustees or preparing for service on other non-profit boards for charitable organizations. The training includes general information about serving on a board and specific information about how ASW governance works. The first session this year is Thursday, November 10 at 6:00p and is being presented virtually via Zoom so that you can participate from the location of your choice.

If you would like to participate, you can sign up by clicking here: 


The BoT is always seeking candidates to become new Trustees (U.S. citizens and Non-U.S. citizens) who could serve to fill open positions mid-year or run for elections in the spring. This also includes the potential to serve on board committees.  This process, overseen by the Board of Trustees Governance Committee is ongoing throughout the year. The link to that form is here: