Dr. Manny: Why I’m urging leaders to do more to prevent another round of Ferguson riots

Stitched into the flag of our beloved country are instances of civil unrest. Civil disobedience and peaceful demonstrations have a meaningful place in our history, with many lessons to be learned from each struggle. However, to me, there is nothing more upsetting than to see American society dissolve into chaos – like what happened in Ferguson, Mo. this past August.

When peaceful protests and demonstrations turn into criminal activities and uncontrolled rioting with unscrupulous so-called community leaders using these opportunities to promote their own personal agendas, America suffers.

As the city of Ferguson and surrounding municipalities prepare for another possible outbreak of violence following a grand jury’s decision on whether to indict a white police officer, Darren Wilson, in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency to keep communities safe.

Any further loss of life, or human trauma that comes as a result of uncontrolled demonstrations like the St. Louis-area saw in August would be a great misfortune. I pray that the level-headed members of these communities prevail, and minimal damage is brought to Ferguson and other cities around the country paying close attention to the decision.

Taking a look at the analysis from emergency medical services that were a part of the August response team helping to control the crowds, there were many challenges in trying to set up staging areas.

The uncontrolled movement of people did not allow fire engines and ambulances to get to the scenes of accidents and disturbances. In some cases, ambulances were delayed for up to 30 minutes in trying to transport a patient to receive medical services from one of the  so-called rioting “hot zones.“ As the violence during those three weeks increased, many EMTs were unable to respond to 911 calls because of concerns for their safety.

I know that the area’s hospitals are preparing to work together in the wake of a possible wide-spread emergency, and also that they are planning for the worst and hoping for the best. However, remember that those communities and all of their citizens need clear access to their respective hospital services. Life has to continue for these people. Patients need access to undergo routine surgical procedures at their local hospitals. Daily doctor visits must go uninterrupted. Health care workers must be able to report to their respective jobs.

While I said it will be a misfortune for any loss of life or injury to occur to anyone involved in the protests, it will be an even greater tragedy for it to occur to anyone who isn’t involved in the demonstrations. As a physician, I dread the possibility of reading that a person suffers a medical complication because their medical routine has been disrupted, or that a timely dispatch of emergency services is not available because of rioting.

I am calling on the nation’s leaders to be more vocal about how to prevent uncontrolled rioting from occurring for a second time this year, because I strongly believe that it can be. Reading about the dangers and the firsthand accounts of how the emergency responders were hindered in August, it is imperative to prevent this from happening again.

As I said earlier, lessons can be pulled from each instance of civil unrest in our history. Let us build from what we learned in August and even incorporate a lesson from Ghandi into our behavior today. He built a nation based on example. He showed that peaceful, civil disobedience is more powerful in bringing out a moral message than destruction of communities and people’s lives. Let us hope that our leaders are willing to do the same, and that our nation is willing to listen.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel’s Senior Managing Editor for Health News. Prior to this position, Alvarez was a FNC medical contributor.
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