A note from our editor

March 1, 2005
It’s not a question of “if,” it’s a question of “when.

It’s not a question of “if,” it’s a question of “when.” In the days and weeks following the September 11 attacks, we’ve all wondered when the next terrorist attack would occur. Though we’d all like to believe that that one horrible day was an isolated incident, we know that in today’s world, another terrorist attack is sure to hit the United States.

It’s not a very comforting thought, and it’s really not one that we like to dwell on too much. As the father of a 7-year-old girl, I shudder to think of how the world has changed in the short time that she has been alive. She was only 3 when the Twin Towers fell, but she still remembers watching it on TV as we tried to find out the whereabouts of my uncle who was heading to New York City that morning for a meeting. Little did she know, and little did we all know, that the world changed forever that day.

I’m writing this editor’s note as I fly to Boston for the Yankee Dental Meeting. It’s interesting to note that, just a few days before the Yankee Meeting was scheduled to begin, Boston was put on high alert after it was believed terrorists were heading there with the ingredients for a “dirty bomb.” This is the age in which we now live, an age where “dirty bombs” are a possibility and an attack on U.S. soil could come at any moment.

By now I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m talking about terrorism. The answer is simple - members of the dental community must be ready to respond when the time comes. If a “dirty bomb” was unleashed today, dental offices would be called upon to help the sick and inoculate those not yet affected. If a terrorist attack happened today, dental professionals would be asked to serve as first responders. Would you know what to do? Would you know what would be asked of you and your staff?

These questions and many others will be tackled at the OSAP (Organization for Safety and Asepsis Procedures) Annual Infection Control Symposium, slated for June 2-5 at the Westin Westminster in suburban Denver. I’ve attended the last two OSAP symposiums, and I’ve found them to be a great source of information. This year’s focus on bioterrorism should be especially meaningful, considering the world in which we now live. PennWell (the parent company of Dental Economics and Dental Equipment & Materials) is sponsoring the bioterrorism lecture, and I’m proud that our company has taken a leading role in educating dental professionals regarding their roles in the event of an attack. For more information, log on to www.osap.org.

As I’ve listened on the conference calls leading up to this event, simple things can be done to prepare for a terrorist attack. Things like buying bottled water, having a three-day supply of non-perishable food, etc., are actions that we can all take to be ready in the event of a disaster. If you haven’t already done so, check out www.ready.gov. It’s a Web site created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that has some great resources about what you can do at your home and office to prepare for a terrorist attack. It has “common sense” suggestions and checklists. It’s been an education for me to read through some things I can do to protect my family.

Of course, bioterrorism won’t be the only topic discussed at the OSAP symposium, with infection control taking the lead in most lectures and breakout sessions. I strongly encourage you and your staff to attend this great four-day event. Hey, spending some time in early June in the Rocky Mountains sounds like a nice getaway to me!

** Speaking of infection control, my thanks to the folks at OSAP (especially Dr. Charles Palenik) for all of their help with this issue of DE&M. You’ll find four great articles in our focus section that will help your office combat infection-control issues. They should be some great resources for you to keep and share with your fellow staff members and colleagues.

Read on, this is your magazine...

Kevin Henry, Editor
[email protected]