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Tragic events: we were not found wanting

The following is an inspirational communication from a hospital manager – courtesy of the Letters of Note website – about his organisation’s performance in testing times:

Dallas County Hospital District

Office Memorandum

November 27, 1963

To: All Employees

At 12.38pm, Friday, November 22, 1963, President John F Kennedy and Texas’ Governor John Connally were brought to the Emergency Room of Parkland Memorial Hospital after being struck down by the bullets of an assassin.

At 1.07pm, Sunday, November 24, 1963, Lee H Oswald, accused assassin of the late president, died in an operating room of Parkland Memorial Hospital after being shot by a bystander in the basement of Dallas’ City Hall. In the intervening 48 hours and 31 minutes Parkland Memorial Hospital had:

1. Become a temporary seat of the government of the United States.

2. Become the temporary seat of the government of the State of Texas.

3. Become the site of death of the 35th president.

4. Become the site of the ascendency of the 36th president.

5. Become site of the death of president Kennedy’s accused assassin.

6. Twice become the center of the attention of the world.

7. Continued to function at close to normal pace as a large charity hospital.

What is it that enables an institution to take in stride such a series of history jolting events? Spirit? Dedication? Preparedness?

Certainly all of these are important, but the underlying factor is people. People whose education and training is sound. People whose judgement is calm and perceptive. People whose actions are deliberate and definitive. Our pride is not that we were swept up by the whirlwind of tragic history, but that when we were, we were not found wanting.

C J Price


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