In Case of Emergency: Misunderstanding Tradeoffs in the War on Terror

01 Apr 2009 05:18pm Stephen Holmes 

Emergency-room personnel are acutely aware of the serious risks posed by excessive delay. Understanding the need for immediate and unhesitating action, they nevertheless routinely consume precious time to follow protocols drilled into them and practiced in advance. Why do they do this? They do it, quite obviously, to minimize the risk of making fatal but avoidable mistakes due to the psychologically flustering pressures of the moment. The aim in this piece is to tease out some of the implications of this everyday emergency-room experience—implications, in particular, for designing a more effective response to what President Bush labeled “a national emergency.”

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