The Next Disaster Emergency Not If… But When

America has had more than its share of tragic events recently. A devastating hurricane on the East Coast, followed by the tragic shooting of youngsters at Sandy Hook, then the Boston Marathon bombings, followed by the deadly explosion of a fertilizer plant in West, Texas and earth-leveling tornadoes in Oklahoma … we are still reeling from the losses.

The first responders and medical personnel who perform Herculean work during these tragedies to save as many lives as possible are beyond impressive. But such events prompt the question: What would Houstonians do if confronted with similar disaster emergencies?

Dr. John Holcomb, director of the Memorial Hermann Texas Trauma Institute, says it’s not a question of if we’ll face a catastrophic event, butwhen.

Holcomb, who is also a trauma surgeon and director of the Center forTranslational Injury Research at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, says Texas Medical Center institutions conduct ongoing training to ensure emergency workers are ready for disasters, whether it be a refinery explosion along Houston’s Ship Channel or a mass casualty shooting at a local college campus.

Federal authorities say Houston ranks high on the list of potential terrorist targets. Since 2007, the Department of Homeland Security has used a threat-based analysis to rank cities’ probabilities as targets. Only Houston and New York City have all 10 risk factors on the list.

Houston is a major player in the oil and gas industry, home of NASA, the Texas Medical Center, and the Houston Ship Channel. The city hosts major sporting and entertainment events, has a number of Fortune 500 companies, and is home to a former U.S. president.

We need to be prepared – and because of people like Holcomb and other leaders in the Texas Medical Center, we are.

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