September 11, 2009 | | Comments 0
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The challenges that tie healthcare facilities back to 9/11

Back in 2001, I remember talking to quite a few hospital safety officers and emergency planners about the way the world had changed after 9/11. It wasn’t just the hijacked jets in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania — soon after, the nation was in the midst of anthrax attacks via the mail and there was also concern about potential smallpox bioterrorism.

Yet I re-read some of the articles I wrote at the time and was struck by emergency planning issues that remain on the forefront today, such as:

  • Freeing up beds for incoming disaster victims
  • Using alternate communication methods to keep in touch
  • Ensuring staff members know what to do as part of an incident command system
  • Maintaining security around your buildings

The 9/11 attacks (and the response to Tropical Storm Allison in Houston several months earlier) were the impetus for the current Joint Commission emergency management standards you need to comply with today. But at the core, emergency management’s real challenges remain unchanged even all these years later.

So although 9/11 was a unique series of events, what it taught us wasn’t unique in hindsight.

On a related note, check out my story, “Eight Years After 9/11, Disaster Response Lessons Still Hold True,” on HCPro’s free HealthLeaders Media site.

Eight Years After 9/11, Disaster Response Lessons Still Hold True

Entry Information

Filed Under: Emergency management


Scott Wallask About the Author: Scott Wallask is senior managing editor for HCPro's Hospital Safety Center ( and the award-winning newsletters, Briefings on Hospital Safety and Healthcare Life Safety Compliance. He has written about healthcare for HCPro since 1998, with a focus on occupational and building safety, emergency management, fire protection, and infection control. Prior to joining HCPro, he worked as a reporter for several newspapers in eastern Massachusetts. He holds a BA in print journalism, magna cum laude, from Northeastern University in Boston. Contact Scott at

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