Improving global prehospital and emergency medicine, public health, and disaster health care and preparedness

Leonard Cole – Profile

Leonard Cole is an expert on bioterrorism and on terror medicine. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine. He is an adjunct professor of emergency medicine, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, where he is Director of the Program on Terror Medicine and Security. Trained in the health sciences and public policy, he holds an MA and PhD in political science from Columbia University and a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine.

He has led and participated in numerous exercises regarding preparedness for and response to terrorist attacks. His books include Local Planning for Terror and Disaster: From Bioterrorism to Earthquakes, co-editor (Wiley, 2012), The Anthrax Letters (National Academies Press/Skyhorse, 2009), and Terror: How Israel Has Coped and What America Can Learn (Indiana University Press, 2007).

Webinar Title: Understanding Terror Medicine

The field of terror medicine emerged early in the 21st century prompted by an increase of global terrorism. Its growth has reflected the need for the medical community to anticipate and optimally react to a terrorist threat. Terror medicine overlaps with aspects of emergency and disaster medicine. It also includes a constellation of medical and security issues distinctively related to terrorist attacks. Terror medicine encompasses four broad areas: preparedness, incident management, mechanisms of injuries and responses, and psychological consequences. A substantial literature on the subject has developed in recent years.

Terror medicine is highly relevant to many medical disciplines. In addition to the obvious field of emergency medicine, they include infectious disease, toxicology, pulmonology, trauma surgery, neurosurgery, dermatology, psychiatry, and more. An appropriate reaction to a terror-related event might contravene usual medical response practice. This could be the case, for example, in a public area where a few people collapse, convulsing and foaming at the mouth.

The symptoms strongly suggest exposure to an organophosphate such as sarin. Unprotected responders rushing to the immediate vicinity of a victim could put themselves at risk. (Sarin has a half-life of five hours.) Donning protective outerwear before approaching close-up to a patient would be advisable.

This and other such issues are explored in a course on terror medicine at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. The two-week course includes lectures by faculty experts, videos of responses to past terror incidents, and table-top and hands-on exercises. Students and participating faculty have consistently praised the course’s value. This webinar draws from some of the course content. Links to relevant articles include: