Lessons learned from Katrina, 9/11, SARS, and other disasters
One of the ways that I would look at it is what we do somewhat in the military. In times of crisis, in times of trouble, you rehearse and you desensitize so that you learn that maybe your basic fears somewhat are the old-fashioned fear of the unknown. And so, you rehearse it enough and you look at courses of action, and you develop a couple of things that maybe if you don't remember all ten points of what you're going to do in terms of crisis, you'll remember the first two because you've rehearsed it enough that you can find solace in that.
SHUTE: Thank you. And you mentioned earlier the enlisted personnel, and I think Vicki Running mentioned that you have to have your laundry workers and your kitchen workers prepared to come in a difficult situation.
FRANZ: And absolutely. And I think one of the things we learned in Minnesota Lifeline, as well it would work hopefully tomorrow as we have to look at things in Rochester, Minnesota is that you can't overestimate the power of your support people and also cross-training. Nothing might be more useless than a physician such as myself that doesn't know how to do basic sanitary duty if need be. Can I clean a floor? Can I process take a patient someplace? Can I provide basic nursing care? We've become so very compartmentalized, myself included, in our medical care that I rely on a number of people to do other things as I go on to the next patient. In this type of environment that we may be facing, we may have to get out of our compartments and look at cross-training in the ability to be not the word multi-tasked, but multi-capable.
SHUTE: Ben, what did you see during the Charity crisis? Were people able to work outside of their traditional roles?
DEBOISBLANC: I think that during those first five days, you felt like you could walk on water, because it was just such an adrenaline rush for everyone. But it does call to mind the observation that much of what is now broken in the city of New Orleans are not physical plants. The buildings are still standing, if you haven't looked. They're still there. But the problem is there's nobody to work in them. We can't open restaurants in New Orleans, not because the restaurants in the French Quarter were flooded, but because there's nobody to bus the tables. And the same is true of our hospitals and all of our clinics is that the very people who provided that infrastructure have been displaced. And I would imagine that until we are able to create housing for those people to allow them to to bring them back that it's not going to be fixed.
SHUTE: Dr. Low, you probably came closest to anyone here as far as experiencing that where you had a really dangerous situation in your hospitals in the entire city. Did people come to work, and if not, how did you deal with that?