Archive | March, 2013

Penn State Universal

15 Mar

It seems that no matter where you are or what happens Penn State somehow figures in the mix.

Last September I was in an automobile accident on the Pa. turnpike.  Fascinating as it was to watch the firemen disassemble my car to remove me, I could have easily passed on the experience.  I ended up with a rod in my left leg and plates and screws in my left arm.  So call me bionic.  From that point I thought it would simply be a matter of waiting the 8 to 10 weeks until I could stand on my leg and then I’d be fine.  I opted to spend the time in a nursing facility in Philadelphia connected to a major hospital where my brother-in-law is a doctor on staff.  I figured my sister and nieces and nephew were nearby and they could come visit.

Unfortunately things suddenly took a turn for the worse and it was a very good thing that the nursing facility was on the campus of a hospital.  My leg, bruised and compressed during the accident, was filled with blood and flesh-eating bacteria I don’t really remember a great deal about the time immediately after this and I wasn’t aware of how ill I was until a resident told me one evening about a month later.  He said something about the necrotizing fasciitis and I just looked at him.  He didn’t realize that I hadn’t known.

I didn’t meet my surgeon until after the initial surgery.  During the course of the nearly six months I was in the hospital, nursing facility or physical rehabilitation facility, I had many visits with the man.  Turns out he was a Penn State Hershey Medical School graduate.

If the med school is still training and putting out doctors like him, then I suggest people go out and find a Hershey Medical School graduate.  Granted, he has an internship, residency and fellowships at other medical centers under his belt, but my feeling is that the medical school probably set him on the path he’s taken.

And he is a good doctor.  For one, I’m not dead.  Necrotizing fasciitis is frequently deadly.  I also still have two legs.  While this may seem flip, it is the reality of the disease.  Amputations are often necessary to save lives.  During my hospitalization, I had about 15 surgeries to remove infected tissue and two surgeries to skin graft the wound sites.

He also arranged for 30 dives in a hyperbaric chamber, a standard treatment, when available, for necrotizing fasciitis and other large wounds.  Spending two hours a day at 2.4 atmospheres was a snap.  I just lay in a giant gerbil-like habitat tube and watched TV.  But the increased oxygen in my blood improved healing and also killed any anaerobic bacteria still left after the antibiotics.

He also acted collaboratively with infectious disease doctors, orthopedists, nutritionists and others.  I was bane of the infectious disease doctors because I’m apparently allergic to most antibiotics. While I endured six weeks of rashes and hives, he was always looking for ways to make things easier for me even if it made it more difficult for him.

But the most important thing of all was that he talked to me.  Busy as he was, seeing patients, traveling to present papers at conferences and other duties, he had time to talk to me, or to do minor surgeries in my room.  And most important of all, when he spoke to me, he looked me in the eyes and his hand often reached out and touched me.  The personal touch, something I’m thinking he probably developed as a med student at Penn State’s College of Medicine.


Lights Out II: More Students Blog About Situation

14 Mar

What would you do if you were a community leader and your town was knocked off the grid? This is the focus of an IST Security and Risk Analysis Capstone course. This is the second edition in a series of student-written posts about their participation in this capstone course. In the future, we’ll feature more posts from the students as they progress through the Lights Out scenario. You can read the other student blog post, or check out some background information about the course in this post.

Here’s the situation:

The country has received a direct hit of a solar event called a coronal mass ejection. It’s bad news. There are three communities — Smithville, McCracken, and Longview — that the students are attempting to lead back into the 21st century in this Analytic Decision Game.


Day 1:
The power went out in McCracken.  At first I thought it was just my block, but I found that it was the entire town.  The weird thing though is this: nothing works.  My phone was at half battery, but it appears dead now.  My laptop was charging in my bedroom when the power cut out.  It’s dead, too.  I even dug up two two-way radios from the mess on the floor of my closet. Dead.
I was one of the last of the neighborhood to go outside.  Everyone who was home was out talking with the neighbors.  Their power was out, too.  Many were clutching their cell phones, holding them higher as if a slight change in altitude would yield some sign of life.  My own phone stayed in my pocket.
Will, from next door, opened the door to his van.  He would take a group to the town hall and see what was going on.  That mission was quickly abandoned.  The van wouldn’t start.  I went to my own Audi and tried the key.  Nothing.  I popped the hood and looked at the engine.  Nothing seemed out-of-place, but I’ll be the first to admit I know nothing about engines.
All along the street people were checking their cars.  Wendy was the first to cry.  Her car, a Subaru, had been bought a week prior.  Once we determined the cars wouldn’t start we began to migrate towards town hall.  I was among the first to leave, but soon there was a fairly large procession of confused and upset citizens.
We picked up several people on our way.  The offices and shops had emptied out.  Some farmers were beginning to trickle in from their fields.  There was already quite a crowd around town hall. I tried to push my way to the front, but ended up squeezed between the local librarian and another man I didn’t know.
After a short while, the Municipal Manager came out and stood on a stack of pallets and held his arms up for silence.
“Ladies and gentlemen, settle down,” he shouted.  “The power in town has gone out, but we’re working to get it back on and we can continue our workday soon.”  This comment blatantly ignored the fact any battery-operated devices were out as well, but he pressed on anyway.
“We’re working now to ensure the safety of those in the hospital and the retirement home.  If you all could please disperse.  Go to a neighbor’s house and wait there.  We’ll let you know if there are any changes.  What we need right now are level heads, clear streets, and willing volunteers.”
I didn’t care to hear the rest.  I turned away and pushed back through the crowd.  Matt would be around here somewhere, and he kept a few cold ones in his basement for when he had company.  I’d find him and wait this out.
As for the rest of the crowd, they were shouting about various things- mostly about their cars.  They were demanding answers that the Municipal Manager clearly didn’t have.  Others were leaving as well, seeing the same futility of asking questions that I saw.  The fire chief was off to one side of the crowd, standing next to a bike rack.  He was talking to a circle of people.  They were all looking down at a single sheet of paper.  I guessed it was some sort of crudely-drawn map of McCracken.  They’d probably send cyclists out to see what was going on all across town and if anyone knew anything.
Let them do whatever they want to.  I’ll wait this out.  A power outage was nothing new, even if all electronics were out.  A sun flare or solar storm, perhaps?  I hadn’t heard anyone mention “terrorism” or “war” yet.  Nobody wanted to consider either of those possibilities.
As I moved down the street I shrugged to myself.  If this was a terrorist attack or a first-strike of the next war, I’d better get some rest.  Soon, things would get worse.

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