Disasters: A Different View

23 Feb


In my middle-aged brain, these three dates are seared into it. The first: the Space Shuttle Challenger with a teacher on the crew exploded only 73 seconds after lift-off. The second: the OKC bombing set off by a very rageful, military veteran and the last one: Bin Laden taking control of airplanes and spawning the “War on Terror”.

Yesterday, since I had 30 minutes to play with, I ventured over to the OKC National Memorial where the Alfred Murrah Federal Building once stood proudly. As I walking by the iced covered reflecting pool that lies between the two golden gates marking the time before and after the explosion on 4/19/95, my thinking turned to the survivors of that infamous day in OK and American history.

So much has been said about the 168 humans who lost their lives that terrible day, but little has been said over the last 18 years about the humans who survived that day. I came across the “Survivors’ Wall” that is part of the outline of the 168 empty chairs and started to ponder about the survivors of that tremendous blast.

How many actually survived in the Murrah building? What are their lives like now? Did any of the kids that were in the building’s daycare survive, since 19 did not that day.

So I did a little research on the survivors and actually found very little. The mayor of OKC on the 15th Anniversary (I would rename it to the 15th Remembrance) said the following, “We have chosen strength, We have chosen optimism, We have chosen freedom, We have chosen to move forward together with a level of unity that is unmatched in any American city.”

The next year, the governor of OK said the following, “The memorial is a testament to the sacrifices of those killed and injured in the bombing, as well as the rescue workers who worked tirelessly to pull survivors from the rubble.”

Of the 25 children in the building’s daycare that day, six survived and you can check out their stories on CNN.com. One reporter asked one of the young survivors, “Why do you think you survived that day?” She replied humbly, I guess I have something important to do with my life. Another young survivor who is now a college student remarked that he treats his life as a “gift” and appreciates what he has.

There were 255 adults to make it out of the Murrah building alive that day, with 93% of those injured in some way. A study was conducted of 182 of those adults and was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on 8/25/99. There was a 46% fatality rate inside the Murrah building and 45% of the 182 survivors developed post-disaster psychiatric disorders, with PTSD leading the way in 34% of the cases.

Fortunately, 69% of the 182 received some type of mental health intervention but only 16% actually were treated by a psychiatrist.

I mirror what one of those younger survivors said, we really need to treat each day we have as a gift and further, treat each other as gift as well.




4 Responses to “Disasters: A Different View”

  1. Sven February 23, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

    Nice job and good points raised. The recent, grade school shooting has also seared my brain with nightmare images.

  2. James N. Miller February 24, 2013 at 3:48 am #

    Very good perspective! I think these views can be extended to other events not under our control as well, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires, to accidents and serious health issues, and even to all kinds of losses – broken relationships, loss of job, leaving behind vigor of youth, etc. Good life lessons in your final sentence. Thanks!

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