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    the charlotte observer

    pentagon plans draft of medics

    selective service wants doctors, nurses ready in event of worst case crisis

    mark libbon
    newhouse news service

    washington - the pentagon is firming up a plan to draft thousands of doctors, nurses and other health-care specialists in the event of a worst-case crisis.

    the selective service system is dusting off its plan for a "health care personnel delivery system," which has been on the shelf since congress authorized it in 1987 to cope with military casualties from a large-scale biological or chemical attack.

    at the pentagon's direction, the agency also is examining whether that plan for a "special skills" draft could be adapted to address critical shortages that might arise for military linguists, computer experts or engineers.

    "we're going to elevate that kind of draft to be a priority," lewis brodsky, acting director of selective service, says.

    the plan would be needed if an attack on u.s. troops overwhelmed the capabilities of the military to care for its wounded.

    the president would issue a proclamation ordering an estimated 3.5 million health-care workers to register for a draft within 13 days. congress would quickly enact legislation authorizing the draft for health-care workers 20 to 44. for the first time, a draft would include women.

    the pentagon would tell selective service how many people it needed in each of 62 specialties. a separate draft lottery would be held for each of those needs.

    for example, if 300 orthopedic surgeons were required, selective service would choose birthdays in a random lottery and order those dates from 1 to 365. notices would go out to the surgeons, starting with the first birthday drawn, until 300 had been called.

    the pentagon expects that within several months of the crisis, selective service could deliver surgeons, nurses, dentists, x-ray technicians, etc. -- up to an estimated 80,000 in all -- through the military entrance processing command.

    the plan isn't very well-known within the medical community.

    "if you were to ask 10 doctors, maybe one might have heard something about it," said dr. marybeth mccall, chief medical officer at crouse hospital in syracuse, n.y., and an air force veteran.

    mccall said she was confident that health professionals would volunteer their services in the event of a large-scale emergency, much as they did during operation desert storm and the sept. 11 attacks.

    "i would say it would be ill-advised to force a draft," she said. "health-care personnel commit to a life of service. we're going to take care of patients wherever they happen to be."

    congress ordered up the plan in the late 1980s, thinking more about cold war dangers than about an iraqi dictator who might unleash weapons of mass destruction against u.s. troops. pentagon officials say they see no need for a conventional draft of young men to be soldiers.

    brodsky said the plan has moved to the front burner because of recent signals from the pentagon and conversations with military leaders.

    selective service maintains 2,000 active draft boards around the country that would handle appeals for exemptions, deferments and postponements.

    members of those draft boards can expect to be trained in the near future on a special "essentiality" exemption that health-care workers might seek, flahavan said. a doctor might be able to show, for example, that he or she is essential to a community and should not be drafted.
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    About AHarri66

    Joined: May '99; Posts: 192; Likes: 17
    Specialty: 9 year(s) of experience in med/surg, cardiac/telemetry, hospice


  3. by   AHarri66
    Sorry for the long cut and paste, but I wanted to be sure in case the link disappeared.

    I don't know about you folks, but I don't want to be drafted! In the event of a crisis, I'll volunteer if I'm able (I was ready to go to NYC after 9/11, but was told there wasn't much I could do.)
    I'd rather make that decision for myself, than have Big Brother propel me at gunpoint.

  4. by   ucandoit
    I mean what is it with this President and his "Administration", Does he have something against us nurses? I have not seen him do one thing to try to help the nursing situation at all! I mean, Hello there GWB, you are running us off! Anyone else agree?
  5. by   hobbes
    I would be curious to know how this would work with respect to nurses. Since there are so many that don't actually practice in a hospital setting or don't practice at all I wonder how they would go about selecting if it ever came to that. I would think it would make the most sense to target emergency, ICU, or other critical care nurses as opposed to L&D or LTC. Don't know how they would do it though. Hope it doesn't come to that.
  6. by   traumaRUs
    As a navy veteran and ER nurse I would be willing to volunteer. However, I don't have children living at home and my husband (retired air force) would be very supportive. I would hate to think of drafting single moms or people without the necessary skills. Also, we have two sons (18 and 23) who are draft eligible - I too hope it doesn't come down to that.
  7. by   angelac1978
    Originally posted by AHarri66
    [BThe Pentagon expects that within several months of the crisis, Selective Service could deliver surgeons, nurses, dentists, X-ray technicians, etc. -- up to an estimated 80,000 in all -- through the Military Entrance Processing Command.

    well this whole article cheeses me off, but really what do we expect from our Imperial Government, be it a Democrat or Republican in the big chair?

    Something else that get me everytime, its not "x-ray technician" its "radiologic technologist" at least it is if they have gone through the right program and pass the national boards.
  8. by   renerian
    Dang if all these Drs and nurses were drafted who would care for the hospital clients, home health and such? Interesting. I don't know if they would draft me as I am 46.

  9. by   sjoe
    "The plan would be needed if an attack on U.S. troops overwhelmed the capabilities of the military to care for its wounded."

    Is this MOST unlikely scenario worth losing sleep over?

    AH writes: "I'd rather make that decision for myself, than have Big Brother propel me at gunpoint."

    Of course you would "rather" do that. The very reason to have a draft in the first place!
  10. by   mattsmom81
    I agree with SJoe...this is only a major disaster contingency plan.

    Let's hope it will never come to this.
  11. by   ainz
    I hope it never come to this as well. Our current prez, GWB, is systematically going about ticking off many many governments and undoing lots of delicate diplomatic gains from the Clinton admin (one of the few things I liked about Clinton, he could get these kinds of things done).

    With the current trend in our government with so much focus on international events and GWB's apparent insatiable appetite to be the "World's Policeman" and forcing our way of life on others, and God only knows what else and for what reason ($$$$always at the root), and his apparent continuation, however covert, of pushing forward with the "new world order," we could possibly find ourselves in such a crisis that would necessitate a draft of healthcare civilian professionals.

    Sad to say and see. Hope GWB doesn't push us into WWIII before he can be defeated in a re-election bid!!
  12. by   Sable's mom
    Did anyone check out the date on the paper - March 23!! This plan was announced then and was in case of massive attacks during the first stage of the Iraqi war. I don't think we have a lot to worry about.
  13. by   jemb
    Originally posted by renerian
    Dang if all these Drs and nurses were drafted who would care for the hospital clients, home health and such? Interesting. I don't know if they would draft me as I am 46.


    The article said only health care workers between ages 20 and 44.

    I agree with sjoe that at this point a draft is not likely. It is only being considered as a contingency plan. Note that the article said that this plan has been on the shelf since 1987 -- not exactly a new idea.
  14. by   Tweety
    It's no worse than we do to 18 year old males.

    In the unlikely event something like that would happen they would be overwhelmed with volunteers anyway. (In another nine months I'll be too old for that draft as well.)