The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the anthrax letters of 2001 were followed by a decade of major domestic and international disasters. Whether wrought by terrorist attacks, nuclear or chemical incidents, rapidly moving pandemics, record-breaking hurricanes, massive earthquakes, or other natural catastrophes, deadly disasters will continue to occur, and prompt and effective response will be required when lives are at stake.
The good news is that disaster preparedness has improved during the past 10 years. For the health care community, 3 important developments are worth noting: (1) medical and public health professionals have joined the ranks of the disaster preparedness community; (2) the US federal government has increased its investment in preparedness, resulting in major improvements at the state and local levels; and (3) to an increasing extent, community participants who should be involved in disaster preparedness are getting involved.
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