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The New Preparedness 

By Brian W. Simpson

As director of New York City's Office of Emergency Management until last year, Jerry Hauer spent four years preparing the city for a panoply of natural and man-made disasters.

But the World Trade Center attacks that killed thousands created a horror that few could ever have envisioned. "A disaster of this magnitude is a daunting task, no matter what you do in preparation, no matter what city it is, what the location is," says Hauer, MHS '78.

Hauer has seen much of the preparedness work he did help the city through the Sept. 11 crisis. Mutual aid agreements he designed with neighboring cities and states brought in ambulances from four states and firefighters from all over.

Currently a senior adviser to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, Hauer has spent the last few weeks in meetings, and working on national plans for responding to terrorism involving biological, chemical, or conventional weapons. 

While many in the post-Sept. 11 world have recognized that the nation's hospitals are ill-equipped to deal with a sudden surge of sick and injured, more is needed than just additional hospital beds, according to Hauer. "Beds are great, but if you don't have a surge in medical staff, how are you going to treat all these people?" he says. "Surging medical care staff and surging logistics and infrastructure are bigger components."