7 Deadly Myths About Weapons of Terror

Myth #1: U.S. Medical Excellence Extends to Disaster Response

May 14, 2009
by Sandra I. Erwin and Stew Magnuson
National Defense Magazine

The U.S. medical system is the best in the world, or so goes the conventional wisdom.

It works great when a patient needs a heart transplant, but in the event of a wide scale disaster or quickly spreading disease, local hospitals are likely to be overwhelmed, a number of reports and congressional hearings have pointed out.

Every December, the Trust for America's Health releases a report card on states' readiness in public health emergencies.

Progress has been made, nevertheless, "major gaps remain in many critical areas of preparedness, including surge capacity, rapid disease detection and food safety," the 2008 report said.

Also, the worsening economy and resulting state budget cuts could mean a rollback in what progress has been made since 9/11, the report said.

"The cuts to state budgets in the next few years could lead to a disaster for the nation's preparedness," the report said.

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