Progress for tomorrow: Preparing for the next disaster
And my own experience has been again, in communities, you go to any small community in America - rural community - you go find people that support their local volunteer fire departments, their rescue squads, their EMS units that donate money, time, energy, this is just another type of emergency preparedness if the right message is put out there in front of the public, not only about the risk but the ability to do something about that.
HEALY: But do you think we have visualized a situation? How many people here know someone who died of the garden variety flu? We hear the number 30,000 people a year. Well, 30,000 in a hospital perhaps, but I'm talking about your next-door neighbor, people in your neighborhood. Typically that affects people who are often in nursing homes, the elderly, the frail, those with compromised immune systems. So what would it be like if everybody knew some young person, maybe in their own family, sort of the story that we were hearing this morning from Secretary Leavitt, the young person next door - you know, the five-year old that you were watching, babysitting for, the teenager who you were coaching at soccer, the young person who was a freshman in college - how many people recognize that a pandemic flu would be touching those people? And I'm getting back to this because isn't that what individual preparedness is? Is it knowing who you're trying to protect?
INGLESBY: Certainly, it's motivated by that. I think one of the things you're getting at is that if people have gone as far as imagining it with that clarity, which I think is relatively uncommon because it's very hard to do that and keep it in your mind - think about losing a child or a neighbor's child - they either put it in the box of the meteor hitting the planet and there's nothing that I can do and I hope it doesn't happen while I'm alive, or they put it in the box of presuming that the people who are smart and are dedicated and are working in the agencies of government and the healthcare system, are doing everything they can do, so what more can they add? I think that's a common thing that I hear all the time, and to some extent, the latter is true that people are always working as hard as they could.
But it isn't the case that the United States is doing everything that it could possibly be doing, if it believed that in fact 2 million people could die from a pandemic. And I think that the political question and the popular question should be are we basically limited at the moment by science and technology? Is that what's keeping us from having a vaccine or an anti-viral or some strategy that will lower the number from 2 million to 2,000? Is it a science and technology barrier or is it a political question? Is it basically we have not applied enough resources to the problem? There is a disconnect between the problem and the solutions that are being worked.