October 11, 2001
To: Defense of Houston Advisory Board
From: S. Ward. Casscells, M.D.
Dear Members of the Advisory Board:
I apologize for not being better touch but we all have day jobs. I am
writing to give you a brief update and some small requests.
As you know, there has been a third case of anthrax in Florida and the
FBI has issued a warning today that suggests they have picked up some
credible information about possible threats.
You also may have read that the Mayor Brown and County Judge Eckels have
gotten together and updated the Disaster Encounter Terrorism Plans. The
Houston's Fire Department Medical Director, Dr. David Persse, is
conducting drills. The Mayor has asked Baylor Chancellor Ralph Feigin,
M.D. to head a Medical Advisory Task Force to the Medical Strike Team.
Several members of our Board are on that including, Drs. Feigin, Duke,
Willerson, Mattox and myself.
That group has also met with Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian, Director of
the James A. Baker, III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University,
and by phone with Mr. Baker and Representative John Neuhaus is attending
a variety of meetings on behalf of the Houston Task Force on
Counter-Terrorism. In short, these groups overlap considerably and
there has been quite a lot of communication.
You also read that Governor Rick Perry has appointed the Land
Commissioner, David Dewhurst to be the Counter-Terrorism "Tzar" for the
State of Texas.
Defense of Houston continues to post news several times a day and the
growth in leadership has been gratifying, as has the volunteers who have
come to help (we need more!).
On your behalf, several weeks ago I invited the following people to
visit Houston to advise and encourage us and perhaps guide us in how we
might obtain (for the first time) Houston's fair share of federal
counter-terrorism funding: Director of Homeland Security, Gov. Thomas
Ridge, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, Senator
Kay Bailey Hutchison, Congressman Ken Bentsen, Congressman Tom Delay,
Homeland Security Director for the Department of Defense General Tom
White, Commandant of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material
Command, General John Parker, M.D., David Dewhurst and of course, Mayor
I am happy to tell you that all have agreed to visit and we may even
have a date of the afternoon of Friday, October 19.
The plan would be to tour the Medical Center and review of the Medical
Center's plans, which Dr. Feign and I would lead, together with Drs.
Willerson, Mendelsohn, Wainerdi, Persse, Mattox, and Mr. Dan Wilford.
We would hope you would be able to attend a reception and press
As you know, our goal is to make Houston as safe as possible starting
with the Texas Medical Center. Our specific tasks are: 1) to educate
medical personnel, government officials , and the public, 2) to promote
communication and coordination among all those involved, 3) to improve
prevention, detection and response.
The work before us essentially can be divided into things which can be
done immediately and those which await funding, with examples including
equipment and research.
I will be posting a draft on the bulletin board tomorrow for comments.
Please recall that the user id is "Houston" and the password is
"Defense." You are welcome to create a private password if you like.
We are acquiring another server soon that we will use to off write
public bulletin board in addition to the password protected bulletin
board for the Advisory Board.
The Advisory Board has already done a great deal in terms of generating
new ideas and lending the names of its members. I have no doubt that
this impressive and representative group of community leaders explain
the awareness of these very busy cabinet secretaries to visit Houston so
quickly. I believe they will tell us our city is in better shape than
almost any other and that they will agree to help us to make things
better still. All Houstonians are in your debt.
S. Ward Casscells, M.D.