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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  
such devices.

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!

Stay well.

Donald J. Palmisano, MD, JD


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