Public Safety

Physicians Share Lessons from Terrorist Events for Emergency Planning

Imagine a trolley full of Chargers fans headed to the “Q.” What if a terrorist detonated a bomb on that trolley? How would local agencies respond?

Imagine a trolley full of Chargers fans headed to the “Q.” What if a terrorist detonated a bomb on that trolley? How would local agencies respond?

That was one question posed to a panel of physicians and terrorism experts Monday as part of a workshop to assist them in planning for such an event.

More than 400 emergency managers, law enforcement, firefighters, lifeguards, emergency medical technicians and trauma doctors attended the Tale of Our Cities 2011 workshop at the Town and Country Resort & Conference Center in Mission Valley. The workshop was sponsored by ReadySanDiego, the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services, the City of San Diego Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The County of San Diego is home to the largest land port in the world, multiple military bases, research institutes and other critical infrastructure. In light of these critical assets we are ever vigilant when it comes to protecting our community,” said County Supervisor Ron Roberts at the event.

The seminar focused on global terrorism and how the use of explosives might present unique medical emergency challenges. International experts from the United Kingdom, Israel, Pakistan, India, and Spain discussed their firsthand experience with terrorist events and the impact on their cities. Afterwards, local emergency managers said their information was valuable and relevant.

“It is about helping us plan for interdisciplinary response to the use of explosives by terrorists. That is why this was excellent program for first responders to attend,“ said Herman Reddick, assistant director of the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services.

The panel that addressed attendees was Dr. Kevin Yeskey and Dr. Richard Hunt, from the federal Department of Health and Human Services; Dr. Isaac Ashkenazi, an Isreal Home Front Command Surgeon General ; Simon Lewis, head of the United Kingdom Emergency Planning and Response; Dr. Rashid Jooma, the former director of General Health in the Pakistan Ministry ; Dr. Nobhojit Roy, a public health professor in Mumbai, India; Dr. Fernando Turegano, the head of general and emergency surgery at a Madrid hospital; Dr. Jay Doucet, associate professor at UCSD School of Medicine; and Dr. Brent Eastman chief medical officer at Scripps Memorial Hospital.

“The international panel of experts brought in was just incredible. They bring instant credibility to the discussion about how to respond to terrorist acts,” said San Diego Fire Chief Javier Mainar. “In talking about explosives, I agree with them that that is the most likely scenario we will experience here. The more networking we do, the more practicing we do, the more capable we’re going to be when we deal with the inevitable injuries from a blast like that.”

Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact