The government is dangerously behind on plans to build mobile field hospitals that could be needed to treat thousands of sick and dying victims of a terrorist attack or natural disaster, according to doctors in the government’s medical response program, former top disaster officials and some members of Congress. The Homeland Security Department, which runs the nation’s disaster-response system, ‘by and large has not been serious about the medical issues,’ said Jerome Hauer, former head of the federal Office of Public Health Preparedness. ‘They don’t get the notion that during a disaster one of the fundamental needs is taking care of the large number of patients.’ One example is Homeland Security’s failure to complete a prototype of a 250-bed field hospital. The Bush administration is preparing to unveil a flu pandemic plan, but 4½ years after 9/11 and anthrax attacks prompted warnings of bioterrorism and eight months after Hurricane Katrina wiped out New Orleans hospitals, the government still has not set standards for what mobile hospitals should stock or how they should operate. Jake Jacoby, head of a San Diego medical response team, said Homeland Security is too focused on ‘ice and duct tape.’ Although […]

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