Week 20 – Question of the Week: How does 9/11 compare with what’s on the horizon?

Week 20: 2011-08-19

September 11, 2001 my brother was in NYC – not in the midst of the action, but close enough to see the buildings on fire.  He high-tailed it out of the city as quick as he could.  Chaos and confusion were the order of the day.  Thankfully, he made it home safe and sound.

But I wonder: does 9/11 hold a candle to the trouble ahead?

Comments, questions, and suggestions are all appreciated.  Submit your response in the block below.

– Doc Cindy

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About Cynthia J. Koelker, MD

CYNTHIA J KOELKER , MD is a board-certified family physician with over twenty years of clinical experience. A member of American Mensa, Dr. Koelker holds degrees in biology, humanities, medicine, and music from M.I.T., Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the University of Akron. She served in the National Health Service Corps to finance her medical education.
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4 Responses to Week 20 – Question of the Week: How does 9/11 compare with what’s on the horizon?

  1. Pete says:

    To elaborate on the risks inherent in the just-in-time supply system, current news reports prove the point. Many ICUs and oncology units are running short of critical drugs and other therapeutic agents… and we aren’t even facing a mass-casualty or natural disaster scenario or crisis; this is during normal operations.
    The long-term fix is to revamp our healthcare system in such a away that there is redundancy and resilience in the system to withstand a system-wide perturbation, such as a WMD or large earthquake or other natural disaster. In practice, there are many ways to do this – one example would be to distribute operations from one central manufacturing or storage facility (for a given drug, for example) to numerous smaller sites. Instead of having one manufacturer of a vaccine, have several… and so on. Laws should also be changed to allow states, cities, and individuals greater latitude in stockpiling necessary supplies.

  2. Pete says:

    The “stealth” jihad is going so well, one wonders if a kinetic 9/11-style attack is necessary. But the possibility certainly exists, and it is the job of medical professions to be prepared for whatever contingencies are on the horizon. The scenario that most troubles me is an EMP attack, similar to the kind featured in the William Forstchen novel, “One Second After,” in which an unknown assailant detonates several atomic weapons above the USA, effectively destroying the electrical grid. For those who haven’t read it, the novel is not only a good read, but thought-provoking.

    The crux of the matter with nuclear warfare is that, heretofore, “MAD” or “mutually assured destruction” has applied. In a nuclear stand-off, both sides had incentives to act carefully, because if you launched on your enemy, he could determine the origin of the attack, and retaliate before being hit by your missiles, bombs, etc. Such deterrence is what kept the Cold War from becoming hot. That, and the presence of enough rational actors on both sides who wished to live rather than be incinerated in a nuclear holocaust.

    However, does deterrence still work against a jihadist enemy who may regard death as a promotion? Moreover, the Russians have developed a missile launch system that looks like a standard container found on a container ship; it opens and a missile can be launched from within with almost no warning. A missile launched from such a vessel would be very hard to trace back to an attacker – esp. if the vessel itself was destroyed after launching it. How do you retaliate against an unknown opponent? The same questions apply to suitcase nukes, dirty bomb attacks, and the like.

    The U.S. medical system operates on a just-in-time model, which is wonderful for efficiency, but terrible for preparedness and resiliency after an attack. Which begs the question – how ready are our emergency response agencies, military forces, and largest local and regional medical centers for attacks by WMDs?
    If history is a reliable guide, a lot less well than they should be.

  3. GoneWithTheWind says:

    If you honestly look at the facts, things don’t look good. There are multiple forces and nations who don’t like us or see us as the only thing between them and world domination. They have stated they want to take the fight to our civilian population and right in our country. There are WMD floating around and rogue nations providing the technology, equipment, and materials to make them. Our borders are virtually unguarded with millions entering unchecked every year. The terrorists and their weapons for the next 9/11 could already be within our borders. The 9/11 terrorist lived in our country for a couple of years planning their crime. It is difficult for us to accept the imminent danger as we sit in our comfortable homes with all the comforts of a modern Western lifestyle. The risk is probably just as great for Europe and Israel.

  4. Jim H. says:

    9/11 was a “local” event. What is coming will be a global event. there will be no comparison. Billions not millions will be thrust into large scale devastation. Might be caused by mother nature, might be caused by man, or both. Being prepared to fend for yourself and your loved ones will be the only way to survive at first and then having a group to help with all daily activities.

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