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May 2017

Preparing for the Next Terrorism Attack: Lessons From Paris, Brussels, and Boston

Author Affiliations
  • 1Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 3Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 4European Council of Disaster Medicine, Belgium
  • 5Centre Hospitalier de Wallonie Picarde, Tournai, Belgium
  • 6Urgente de Paris Hôpital Necker–Enfants Malades, Paris France
  • 7Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris, Paris, France
  • 8Paris Descartes University, Paris, France
JAMA Surg. 2017;152(5):419-420. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2016.4990

The most recent spate of brutal terrorist attacks in Nice, Bangladesh, Baghdad, Istanbul, and Orlando highlights the need for a more global concerted effort to gather and share lessons from these events among health care professionals. In June 2016, only a few days after the mass shooting in Orlando, health care leaders from Paris, Brussels, and Boston gathered to discuss our experiences in emergency preparation, response, and recovery from each city’s recent terrorist attacks. A conference jointly organized by the Paris Descartes Faculty of Medicine and Harvard Medical School, followed by focus groups in Paris and Brussels, highlighted the particular health care challenges of responding to a multisite terrorist attack; the need for a timely, standardized, academically rigorous approach to after-action reporting; and the critical role of public engagement.