I have connections in health care and I can tell you right now that if we really do have a pandemic that requires many people to be on ventilators, (as the swine flu tends to) there will be many deaths. I say this with confidence because no hospital has enough vents on hand to handle a pandemic. Hospitals keep inventory low, just like most buisnesses do, and also use JIT inventory. If a hospital should have need of more vents, they just call up the supplier and rent some until the need is over, thus keeping invetory low overall. But in a pandemic, we will be SOL. Every hospital cannot be supplied at once. And even if they did have enough equipment, do they have the trained personnel availale to keep it running? Respiratory Therapists are specifically trained for the job and you just can't stick someone else into that position easily. RNs can work different floors with minimal training, but IMHO you can't just stick someone into an RT position without more extensive training.
You might want to make some inquires at your local hospitals about this now as they keep saying they expect we will be hit harder with the swine flu this fall. Of course they are planning and preparing, but I asked a friend who is an RT and there were no increases in their inventory... Mostly they have talked about having back up for childcare so you can still come to work. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure these things out, yet the heads of our health institutions are more worried about their paychecks and the bottom line, so they are still keeping the inventory low.
I hope you are planning on ways to keep your family healthy through this next few seasons. Remember that an ounce of prevention of worth a pound of cure.