A Lost Opportunity

by Rick Austin May 13, 2014 04:02 PM

So, I listened to the new podcast from NACCHO, and after just under six minutes, it ended. Wait, what?


NACCHO’s Ian Goldstein interviewed Dr. John Tassey about some of the lessons learned from the 1995 Oklahoma City terrorist bombing. It was fascinating. It was too short.


Tassey is an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the University of Oklahoma, and a first responder to the 1995 bombing. He remains involved to this day in the development and expansion of the city’s emergency response system, particularly the mental health aspect.


He’s potentially a fount of information, both historical and operational, about disaster response and the need for public- and mental-health capabilities. For instance, he mentioned that, 19 years after the bombing, there are still community mental health needs emerging from the aftermath. This is interesting from a number of standpoints. What are the mental health issues being uncovered? Are the expanded capabilities of the Oklahoma City mental health facilities able to handle them? What could be done better?


No answers to any of those questions, as the podcast moved on to the next topic with no further consideration. Similarly, a throwaway comment about the emergence of a medical reserve corps following the bombing went unexplored. How did the reserve corps emerge? How has it integrated with Oklahoma City’s disaster response capabilities? How has it helped? No answers here.


The skills and experiences of local public health and mental health professionals like John Tassey are an invaluable resource for all of us. I would have liked to hear a little more.

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