DJP 9-22-2005 Update
* Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and communication
Communication is essential in a time of crisis. To hear the repeated
stories of inability to communicate by phone, land-line or cell, is
frustrating. Lives are at stake. Those who want to help can't help
if they can't communicate with you.
Good risk management mandates anticipating what could go wrong and be
prepared with an effective alternative to continue to communicate.
Here is what I urge everyone in leadership positions in the Hurricane
Katrina and Hurricane Rita areas to do to enhance communications.
Get a Blackberry phone that has phone, email and walkie-talkie
(Note: you also get a Blackberry email address that works
immediately. In addition, you can have your regular email address
also bounce to the Blackberry.)
Nextel Blackberry is the ideal example of such a device. I am not an
agent for Nextel or Blackberry and I have no stock in these companies.
My wife Robin and I have remained in touch throughout Katrina by
doing Blackberry email via Cingular. We also have Motorola Talkabout
walkie-talkies but a Blackberry from Nextel combines these functions
and the walkie-talkie function extends throughout the USA.
I have explained my goals to enhance communication and help determine
where volunteers are needed. See previous discussion at
www.intrepidresources.com and always check the Louisiana State
Medical Society web site for updates. Go to www.lsms.org
Once I determined the need for communication devices that would work
when the phones did not, I then looked for a source of donations for
My first and only call was to Dr. Richard Anderson, Chair and CEO of
The Doctors Company, in NAPA, California. He immediately asked what
I needed and sent me 10 Nextel Blackberries with auto cigarette
chargers for those who did not have electricity but did have a
working car. I distributed those 10 and got another 10. I will
finish distributing those and another 10 are on the way.
So far, I have given 7 to Dr. Jim Aiken who is doing great work in
New Orleans. Also, I gave one to Dr. Brobson Lutz who is running the
French Quarter Medical Clinic in Exile on Dumaine Street in the
French Quarter. Dr. Lutz took me on medical rounds 2 days ago and we
visited his patients in the French Quarter. Fascinating stories and
memorable photos of the conditions in New Orleans. Dr. Lutz was
featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal last Friday in
a great story by Christopher Cooper of the WSJ.
Yesterday, I met with federal officials, thanks to Dr. Eliot Sorel of
the DC Medical Society who has an outstanding son working with the
government. His son Marc arranged the meeting. The federal folks
sent out a memo with my contact info so that anyone who needs
volunteers can alert me and I will pass it on to you and the LSMS.
Also copying AMA on my communication efforts so that we are all in
the information loop.
Today I met with Dave Tarver, EVP of the Louisiana State Medical
Society, and distributed the Blackberry device to him and left one
for Dr. Jay Busby, president of LSMS and one for Dr. Russell Klein,
Speaker of the LSMS HOD. They are all set up and programmed with each
other's numbers. Tomorrow, I meet with New Orleans Parish Coroner,
Dr. Frank Minyard, who will get 3 of the Blackberries and he will
give me a tour of his temporary morgue facilities in Baton Rouge.
I already distributed one of the Blackberries to Jefferson Parish
Coroner, Dr. Robert Treuting, and I now have one for his
administrator, Roy Malbrough. The remaining ones are to be given to
other leaders in Medicine.
As one who was born and raised in the Irish Channel in New Orleans,
it was very sad to see this unique city in such a condition.
When the blame and shame game is over, I hope our city, state, and
federal officials will look for the second story, that is, the need
to fix the systems that enhanced the grief after this catastrophic
hurricane. However, right now we need to continue to communicate and
help those in need. Many stories of heros are emerging and this is
not unusual for Americans. I am privileged to know some of the
heros. Our surgical group is very proud of our partner Jan
McClanahan, who stayed behind at Methodist Hospital in New Orleans
East and operated under flashlight visualization without power. He
stayed until the last helicopter evacuated the last of the patients
and medical personnel at Methodist. The medical folks continued to
manually ventilate the patients on respirators when the power went
out at the hospital.
Finally, email never fails unless server goes down. With 3 different
emails, one is always up. For those of you who only have one server
for your web site, give strong consideration to a mirror site in
another location. Just like electronic data, always back up and keep
back up in another location. If you live in New Orleans, keep the
backup where the land is above sea level!
Donald J. Palmisano, MD, JD