Progress for tomorrow: Preparing for the next disaster
And it's very hard to get people to sort of come out of their shell, even caregivers, on a day-to-day basis because they're busy; they're overtaxed; they're trying to find solutions to very real problems that present this afternoon versus perhaps tomorrow. It doesn't make this any less important to talk about and do something about, but it's just very human to pay attention to those things that are right in front of you versus something that might be around the block. And it's like the tax process in this week of when you file your taxes. You might put it off to the last minute. It's not a good approach, nor is it safe, nor is it where we want to be in disaster preparedness, but it is human nature to do so.
HEALY: But is this something that should be on our list if we say four or five things that we're saying for tomorrow preparing today for tomorrow? Is this something that needs to be brought to the individual, brought to the community? Or is this going to scare people?
KELLERMAN: Well, it doesn't do us any good to scare people. It also isn't any good to let people remain apathetic or indifferent. We need people to be determined. It's not just determined to take personal decisions and personal actions at the family level. But it is to engage local government, state government, and federal government to say are we doing the right things in the right way to meet the right threats.
I will offer the somewhat provocative observation that I think in the last several years, our government's single-minded focus with bio-terrorism has arguably left us less responsive or able to deal with terrorism and less able to respond to many biological threats because we have focused so narrowly on one class of agents that we have not taken the all-hazards approach we need in our hospital system, our emergency care system, and in our homeland security apparatus to respond to a whole range of threats from pandemic flu to a terrorist bombing.
HEALY: Although, isn't it true what we've been hearing all day is that start thinking individual kind of what Dr. Benjamin just said - that government only can do so much; it's going to take a long time for the government even to get permission to come in; and you can't depend on the government they have certain missions. You know, they will protect the borders; they'll help with rescue, but the government is not going to protect you. We heard Secretary Leavitt say that.
BENJAMIN: Yeah, I don't buy that argument though. One of the things I learned about being a health officer, both here in Washington, D.C., and in Maryland is if it looks like health, sounds like health, hurts people, it's yours. And one of the challenges is that while it is good to get people to engage in the personal and private planning, there are only some things that government can do. And government can provide consistency, government can provide guidance, government can provide funding. And so I'm hoping we're not hearing they're walking away from that responsibility. I'm hoping they're trying to spur us on to be more engaged.