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The Morning After (The 9-11 Anniversaries)

KW: I understand that so many people lost their lives, and so many people were hurt from the September 11th 2011 tragedy, that the anniversary date must hold a certain solemness, and respect for the dead.

Though, the morning after this incident that happened 10 years ago, perhaps we could remember the truly important lessons that we learned, in hopes that something like 9-11, the lead-up mistakes, and the follow-up mistakes, do not happen again.

Below is an in-depth article from this week, which explores health lessons from 9-11.

I also wish that people would take the time to explore and understand other stories, such as: How did we allow the government and the Motorola corporation to make such bad decisions about a big radio contract, so that many fireman died who did not have to on that day? How come no one reenacts the tragedy of someone shouting “Get Out” into a radio, when the fireman inside a collapsing building could not to hear the warning? There is a link to a March 2011 story about the FDNY and the Motorola radios: here. (It is difficult to find the original, 9-11 radio discussion on line. This article is a follow up, to more problems after 9-11. There is a comment about the 9-11 situation: here.)

Now, the 9-11 health care lessons learned and not learned story from 9/9/2011:

(excerpt from) How U.S. Learned the Wrong Health Lessons From 9/11
wired.com
by Brandon Keim

In the fall of 2001, the United States was confronted by two major public health challenges: the anthrax mailings and threat of a biological attack, and the subtler but ultimately more harmful plume of toxic dust that that rose from Ground Zero. The country was prepared for neither.

In the months and years that followed, bioterror proved to be the easier threat to confront, or at least to spend money on. The plume’s damage was harder to address, not least because government officials prematurely insisted on its safety. In both cases, one theme is universal: The wrong decisions were made, and lessons have been incompletely learned.

“I keep getting asked: Are we safer today than on 9/11?” says Laurie Garrett, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of I Heard the Sirens Scream, a new book on 9/11 and its public health aftermath. “My answer is that we’ve spent an enormous amount of money, but I’m not at all convinced that the expenses have made us safer.”

Wired.com talked to Garrett about biodefense, the Ground Zero plume and what can be learned.

The author of The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance and Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health, Laurie Garrett lives in New York City. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, she watched the horror from the Brooklyn banks of the East River. I Heard the Sirens Scream is both a diary of that fateful autumn and a journalistic investigation of what followed.

Wired.com: What is the big, takeaway lesson?

Garrett: There used to be this big debate regarding our national defense: Can the Pentagon fight a two-front war? Back then, it was always couched in terms of whether our military forces could be stretched so thinly. I would ask the same of our public health forces, our first responder forces, our medical forces — and I would say that the answer is no.

What we see, when you look at the lessons of 9/11, is that these people were burning candles at both ends. They were thoroughly exhausted. We demanded of our public health personnel a scale of performance that lasted for weeks. And one of the things that was really startling for me in the research to I Heard the Sirens Scream was how extremely strapped our public health people in New York City and Washington, DC were before the attack.

Afterwards, our health departments, our forensics departments, were all on full alert. They didn’t go off alert until well after Thanksgiving. Many were essentially running on fumes. I think they would say that a lot of decision-making suffered out of exhaustion.

I also spent a lot of time looking at health departments that weren’t targeted, but still went on full alert and stayed there for weeks. And they were so strapped by all the hoaxes, all the phony anthrax letters, all the honest, scared people who thought they were sick. Every one of those reports had to go to a lab…

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