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September 17, 2005
Med 1By Greyhawk
It started off as a great local human interest story; would-be heroes deploy in the wake of Katrina:
Med 1 is the Carolinas Medical Center's prototype mobile hospital. It is the only facility of its kind in the world and will bring help to those who are so desperate. The tractor trailer that houses Med-1 opens to a 120 bed hospital.Sounds like they thought through all the possibilities... except one.
Because Med 1 immediately became one of those early stories of "failure" from a hyperventilating media seeking the dark clouds even after the storm was gone:
Volunteer physicians are pouring in to care for the sick, but red tape is keeping hundreds of others from caring for Hurricane Katrina survivors while health problems rise.Of course, in order to be fully outraged by this "failure" we must ignore the fact that where they were "stranded" was actually ground zero for Katrina. And there the team found their calling, as Dr Stanley Tillinghast, M.D. tells us (along with some other crucial details CNN missed) here:
The Med-1 team was ready to go just after the storm; an agreement between the governor of North Carolina and Governor Blanco of Louisiana was prepared and faxed to Governor Blanco. 24 hours elapsed and the agreement was not signed. The team was ready to leave on Friday, September 2, and the agreement was not signed. The team was then federalized by FEMA and ordered to deploy. They made it as far as Mississippi?still no agreement. So instead of heading for Louisiana, Med-1 came to Bay St. Louis, where it serves as a temporary replacement for Hancock Memorial while the latter is out of commission.And here is one result of that "failure":
He was 12 years old and he had been riding around this destroyed town on a four-wheeler. He flipped it Tuesday night and hurt his neck bad.Doctor Tillinghast's post (indeed, his entire blog) is a must-read. He's a physician from California who took it upon himself to go to the hurricane zone and help in whatever way he could, and he's photoblogging his mission. But there's one aspect of his story on Med 1 that should catch the attention of people everywhere - doctors, politicians, emergency officials, or anyone concerned with surviving a natural or man-made catastrophe.
How did this marvel come to be? Dr. Tom Blackwell of Carolinas Medical Center had it already designed after prolonged research and analysis, when FEMA expressed an interest. According to Mr. Taylor, FEMA was expecting a very long process to acquire such capability, when Dr. Blackwell offered to fax the complete proposal. This during a conference call; and apparently Dr. Blackwell?s offer was met first with stunned silence, then with an astonished ?What did you say??What he'd said was $1.5 million - and the reason it stunned the federales was because they aren't used to dealing with numbers that small. So while CNN bemoans the fact that the "taxpayer funded" field hospital didn't make it to New Orleans where their reporters were, ponder this: how many such facilities are available in your state? And given the modest price tag, why so few?
Of course, your state and its neighbors might be immune to natural disaster or terrorist attack, but were I some bright young politician trying to establish myself in this post-Katrina world, I think I'd have my team contacting the folks who might know about how to get the ball rolling on such a project for my home district. If I'm not such a person, I'd probably be on the phone to my local representative early Monday morning - or emailing even sooner. And if you want to find local experts, you might want to see if there aren't a few veterans of the Iraq war in your local Guard unit who also might happen to be doctors, nurses, or other medical personnel who've deployed to combat zones over the past couple years - there's a good chance there are some, and they'd recognize Med 1 at a glance. I did; it's a slightly modified version of what we had in just about every camp in Iraq. The folks who staffed those facilities will have a lot of expertise to offer for the development of such a "tactical trauma center" - there's nothing like a combat zone for advancing emergency medical knowledge and experience.
Or you could wait until after the next disaster, and maybe you'll get mentioned on CNN.
Posted by Greyhawk / September 17, 2005 9:58 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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