Once again, a senseless act of violence has upended any notion that the war on terror will someday end and a sense of normalcy will return to national life.
As of this writing, we still don't know who planted the homemade bomb that took three innocent lives and injured more than 175 spectators gathered near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. But does it really matter? Since the mid-1990s, the country has been repeatedly rocked by terrorist acts perpetrated by hate-filled individuals or small groups both foreign and domestic.
Oklahoma City, Atlanta, New York, Washington, D.C., now Boston—the number of major American cities targeted by terrorists has grown depressingly long. And then there's the equally long list of places that suffered tragic mass killings at the hands of individual gunmen: Columbine, Virginia Tech, the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting and, most recently, Newtown.
The lesson for healthcare providers everywhere is simple: Be prepared. We live in a world where powerless people with all manner of grievances—or simply noises in their head—can easily obtain the guns, bullets, pellets, nitrates (Isn't it ironic that another mass casualty event took place last week at a fertilizer factory in Texas?) to wreak untold havoc on innocent people. When mass casualties occur, somebody has to rush to the scene, care for the wounded and deal—for decades—with the physical and emotional aftershocks.