Getting Resources in an Epidemic: Should The First Responders Always Be the First in Line?

A2ethics.org was fortunate to gather a group of policy-makers and professionals all charged with considering the ethics of reasoned rationing when an generalized epidemic, such as AIDS or pandemic flu occurs. Is is possible to be reasonable in such situations? The central question we wanted to ask was whether it is possible for a community, such as the residents of Washtenaw to help policy-makers, among them panelists Ellen Clement, the County's Public Health Director, Barbara Levin Bergman, a County Commissioner, to come to some consensus about who would get the very limited medical resources, staff and care in a medical emergency like an epidemic? Helping us to frame some issues was John Chamberlin, the founding Director of the University of Michigan's Center for Ethics in Public Life and a very small, but interested audience. We did not stay on topic, but nevertheless received some useful tips and a booklet on Emergency Management from panelist, Lieutenant Myron D. Blackwell, the City of Ann Arbor's Emergency Management and 911 Communications Director.