Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

America Unprepared for Disaster

2 Years After 9/11, Lack of Preparedness "A National Crisis"
WebMD Feature

It couldn't happen here. Before 9/11, that's what we used to think. We've known better for two years. Yet America remains unprepared to deal with disaster, experts say.

A big part of the problem is that hospital emergency departments already run at -- and over -- full capacity. Even a relatively modest disaster would overwhelm most cities' public health systems. This problem started before 9/11 -- and is getting worse, not better.

Why aren't things going according to plan? Because there is no plan, says Irwin Redlener, MD, director of the newly-created National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.

"This is a national crisis," Redlener tells WebMD. "I am very dismayed about where things stand at this time. We are telling the health-care system to get ready for bioterror, for example. But we are not telling them exactly what that means. And we are not giving them sufficient money or guidance. ... It is absurd to the point of lunacy."

A Chorus of Concern

Redlener isn't the only expert raising the alarm. Here's Arthur Kellermann, MD, MPH, chair of Emory University's emergency medicine department, a member of the board of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member of the National Institute of Medicine.

"This is a nationwide crisis and nobody wants deal with it," Kellermann tells WebMD. "Nothing has been done to address the problem of emergency room overcrowding and too little hospital capacity. Nothing -- capital N-O-T-H-I-N-G -- is being done on a national level."

And meet Emanuel Rivers, MD, MPH, director of emergency medicine research at Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital.

"Without a doubt we are going in the wrong direction," Rivers tells WebMD. "Increasing emergency room overcrowding is a very significant weakness in our ability to respond to any crisis. Look at the general deterioration of capacity in hospitals around the country. If we had a national crisis, we would have a much worse problem today than we would have had in 2001."

James Bentley, PhD, is the American Hospital Association's senior vice president for strategic policy planning. He says individual and regional hospitals have made huge improvements in disaster preparedness since 9/11. But he, too, says the lack of a national strategy creates problems.

"There is a lot of frustration in whatever state you look at, because the federal government is unwilling to say, 'OK, here is what we plan for,'" Bentley tells WebMD. "So Georgia could plan for one thing, and South Carolina and Alabama plan for something quite different."

1 | 2 | 3

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
fruit drinks
Eat these to think better.
Balding man in mirror
Treatments & solutions.
No gym workout
Moves to help control blood sugar.
Remember your finger
Are you getting more forgetful?
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Close up of eye
12 reasons you're distracted.
birth control pills
Which kind is right for you?
embarrassed woman
Do you feel guilty after eating?
woman biting a big ice cube
Habits that wreck your teeth.
pacemaker next to xray
Treatment options.
Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
Myths and facts.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.