Growing Up With Fear

August 31st, 2006 by Nick Jacobs Leave a reply »

My childhood home was an hour south of Pittsburgh, one of the greatest steel producing centers in the industrialized world.  During those young years, my childhood was interrupted several times a year by adults who were attempting to help prepare us for the worst, the possibility of a nuclear holocaust.

Duckncover2805hkWe used to practice hiding under our desks at school and would go into the hallway and cover our heads to protect ourselves from the flying glass.  (If you ever saw the films from the true tests, those desks were not impervious to the Hydrogen Bomb, and the hallway would probably have become a collection of toothpicks, but it was all that we had.)

As a young paper boy, while walking home from my last customer, I can remember looking south toward Pittsburgh and wondering what the fireball and mushroom shaped cloud would look like when the Soviet Premier would finally become so frustrated with our democracy that he would launch the ultimate attack . . . on Pittsburgh.

Image009Imagine my lack of surprise when I moved to Johnstown, PA and discovered that at least one of the Superintendents of a steel mill here had their own personal bomb shelter, or that The Greenbriar had  a special underground shelter for our U.S. Congress.

Thankfully, the need to follow through with this planning never manifested itself as a reality in my life.  My dad, however, was born around the 1918 flu epidemic, and his parents couldn’t get a doctor to come to the house because the doc was very busy.  That disaster did become a reality.

On the other hand, Y2K made plenty of my computer specialists friends a great deal of money.  Except for Cindy, a member of our Y2K team at the hospital, who accidentally leaned against a light switch at midnight, nothing of significance happened, anywhere in the world.

We can only pray that the current flu pandemic, the dirty bomb in New York Harbor and the premature death of our generation’s overweight kids will also not become reality.  We can hope that, like my hydrogen bomb preparations, our time will be invested in worrying about a future that never arrives.

Fortunately, I’ve been trained to worry. It’s been my history.  Most days, if i don’t have some serious degree of anguish, it’s probably either because I’ve slept in or was under some form of anesthesia for a medical examination.

Consequently, at my organization, we are working to protect you from whatever disaster lurks out there.  It’s our job to be prepared.  Steve, our internal co-coordinator for disasters, sent me this e-mail this morning:

Y2k_countdown_1We utilize an all hazards approach for incidents whether white powder, radiological/nuclear, biological, chemical, natural, or man made.  The decontamination procedure for white powder or a dirty bomb would actually be the same.

As far as pandemic and surge planning are concerned, we are working with multiple groups to coordinate a standardized plan, including Region 13/MMRS, Hospital Council of Western PA, Cambria/Somerset Disaster Management Task Force, and the Cambria Co. Community Health Preparedness Task Force.  Our local disaster management task force is currently coordinating a drill for October.  I will keep you updated.

And we will Keep YOU Updated, too.  Hopefully, just to have a good laugh someday that we worried about this stuff, too.  Y2K? . . . please.


  1. Comment… Not often do I encounter a weblog that’s both educated and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. Your concept is excellent; the difficulty is something that not enough individuals are talking intelligently about. I’m ve…

  2. Yang says:

    This blog is interesting and really entertaining! I have always wondered what it was like to live at that time. This blog gave life to my imagination.

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