Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for October 22nd, 2010

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on October 22, 2010

    This is a shameless posting promoting my work with Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). As a psychiatrist in my office, I try to help individuals and families, yet only through changing policy, can I help the mental health of millions.  So, I joined PSR to volunteer my time to promote public health. As a physicians organization, we view nuclear war as perhaps the ultimate public health threat. In the event of a nuclear detonation, physicians would be expected to provide care, yet there would be precious little we could do to help. The psychological fall out would be overwhelming. Dealing with massive trauma would be a challenge we, in the mental health community, are not prepared for. Further, the burning of human beings, requiring burn units would exceed our capacity. There are 1500 beds in burn units nationwide, most of which are occupied. A single nuclear weapon could produce 10,000 severe burn cases. Radiation impedes emergency personnel from attending the injured. Emergency personnel would also be victims and their facilities destroyed or damaged. Destruction of transportation, communication and energy networks would create gigantic obstacles to evacuate victims and long delays to bring in outside help. PSR  takes the adage that we must “prevent what we cannot cure.” This means advocating for nuclear policy that will gradually reduce the risk of a nuclear disaster. As the saying goes, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” We turn the fear of nuclear terrorism and nuclear war into the action of prevention. This is scary and important work. Yet, I like the way my colleague puts it best, “I just like thinking about nukes, that’s why I am here.”

Posted in Musings, PSR | 2 Comments »

 
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