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Disaster preparedness in L.A. looks to be a disaster

May 6, 2008 | 12:49 pm

Disaster_prep_is_a_disaster_in_la Here's a gratifyingly realistic reaction to the news that L.A.'s emergency services won't fare well in a terrorist attack, from a story by the Times' Mary Engel:

"It is irrational to believe that an emergency system that is already overwhelmed by the day-to-day volume of acutely ill patients would be able to expand its capacity on short notice," said Dr. Roger J. Lewis, a professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Irrational. Now there's some plain speaking. A relief, no? More from the story:

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform examined conditions at 34 hospitals in seven cities on an arbitrarily chosen date and time -- March 25 at 4:30 p.m. -- to gauge how they could have handled such an influx of patients. The survey focused on hospitals with level 1 trauma centers, which handle the most serious injuries.

Not one of the hospitals in NYC, Chicago, Houston, Denver and Minneapolis passed muster in terms of beds in the ER or ICU, or regular beds in hospital rooms. Turns out L.A. and Washington, D.C., came out on the bottom of this particular test. Read Mary's full story here.

That photo above, meanwhile, is students from Natomas High School  in Sacramento, doing a flood disaster drill. Our state capital ranks second only to New Orleans as the most flood-threatened city in the U.S. (Factoid: Flood insurance in the Natomas area averages $2,000 per year.)

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Robert Durrell / Los Angeles Times