Hurricane Sandy Wallops the Northeast

This is just a little teeny blog. When we have a major disaster like Hurricane Sandy, a small blog like this can’t really cover the full scope of this hurricane (now downgraded below a tropical storm). I like to emphasize three things that have happened during this terrible weather event. I’m not saying that these are the most important. I’m just going to focus on these three things.

NYU Langone Medical Center (their web site it down) ran out of power. For some reason, which is not clear from the report, their backup power did not work either. 215 patients were evacuated to nearby area hospitals. This is an incredibly complex move. Some patients are on ventilators. Some patients are on isolation. Trying to get the right amount of information to the receiving hospitals and the receiving physicians is a nightmare. The whole hospital was evacuated. This is not to mention that most hospitals are running a census of 90-99% capacity. No major hospital sitting around with a bunch of open ICU beds. The logistics of trying to figure out how to get nurses to take care of those patients, as well as other ancillary personnel including respiratory therapists, is out of this world. From the written reports it appears that all went well. Hundreds of medical personnel should be congratulated.

Prior to Hurricane Sandy, Mitt Romney was fond of saying that we need to take the funds for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and let the states take over that responsibility. As a matter fact, he said that we need to figure out ways to get that responsibility back to the private sector. As far as I know, the private sector is all about making money. There’s not a lot of money to be made out of disaster relief. Who is going to pay the private sector? The government? Oops. That’s big government deciding winners and losers, again. The victims? The people whose houses are literally underwater? Hurricane Sandy is a big disaster. It needs a coordinated response. As a trauma surgeon, I know a little about disaster relief. Disasters require a large coordinated effort between federal, state, local and private entities in order to get the job done. That’s a system that we have now. It’s a system that has slowly grown over the last 100 years. We’ve tried all kinds of other systems. They’ve all fallen short. This is the best way to take care of Americans in the time of a disaster.

Although we’ve heard a lot about Hurricane Sandy, it seems that everybody is going out of their way not to mention anything about – global warming. With increased CO2 in the atmosphere, computer models suggested weird weather. We were going to see more, bigger and better hurricane events. The science is pretty clear. I’ve talked about it at length. I talked about the various ways in which scientists have come to the same conclusion. Right now, it is politically incorrect to say that Hurricane Sandy, a once-in-a-lifetime event, was completely predicted by those who follow global warming – climate change secondary to man burning fossil fuels.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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