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January 24, 1959


Author Affiliations

U. S. Army

Director, Department of Preventive Medicine, Army Medical Service School, Ft. Sam Houston, Texas.

JAMA. 1959;169(4):366-368. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.73000210024010g

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Abraham Lincoln stated the major problem of disaster survival succinctly when he said, "You can't escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today." Although no one at present has all the answers to the problems of survival in mass disaster, it is most important that we become acquainted with the answers we do have and begin thinking of possible solutions to problems which we know may arise in our particular situations.

Major Gen. James P. Cooney, deputy surgeon general, has classified people involved in disaster into five major types: the overly optimistic, the very religious, the fatalistic, the ultraneurotic, and the sensible. The optimist is convinced that whatever is going to happen to him is all for the best. The very religious type dismisses the problem, too, by declaring, "Let God's will be done." The fatalist believes he is safe until his number comes up, and there is not

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