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The US is faced with a possible flu epidemic this fall, and plans are being made for extreme emergencies. If medical facilities are overwhelmed, who gets access first?  Who makes that decision? What can be learned from what happened in New Orleans after Katrina? Also, Los Angeles-area deadly wildfires threaten health, homes and communication systems. On Reporter's Notebook, will President Obama's commanding general propose a "surge" of American troops, this time for Afghanistan? 

Banner image: Evacuees are treated by medical personnel at a makeshift hospital September 5, 2005 at the New Orleans International Airport. Photo: Hector Mata/AFP/Getty Images

Making News Massive Los Angeles Fire Spreads in Nearly All Directions 7 MIN, 47 SEC

The so-called "Station Fire" near Los Angeles has doubled in size to 85,000 acres in the past 24 hours. It spread over night, in almost direction — even without any wind. Two firefighters have already lost their lives, and the blaze is said to be only 5% contained.  Some 12, 000 homes are in danger, and air quality is unhealthy all over much of the Los Angeles basin. Mary Milliken is West Coast Bureau Chief for Reuters.

Mary Milliken, West Coast Bureau Chief, Reuters

Main Topic Hurricane Katrina and Medical Choice in Extreme Emergencies 37 MIN, 52 SEC

Just four years ago, Hurricane Katrina cut off electricity to New Orleans' Memorial Medical Center.  Emergency generators failed. The temperature was 100°, there was no fresh water or sewage, and flooding around a heavily damaged building created major problems for evacuating patients. Doctors were forced to conduct triage. If some patients had to be left behind, should the healthiest or closest to dying be first for evacuation? Should those likely to die be euthanized? Who should make these decisions? With a possible influenza pandemic this fall, lack of sufficient facilities just might pose similar choices. We hear how the Katrina disaster has shaped future planning. Is the public being kept informed?

Sheri Fink, Staff Reporter, ProPublica
Peter Kovacs, Managing Editor, Times Picayune
Marianne Matzo, Chair of Palliative Care Department, University of Oklahoma College of Nursing
Uwe Reinhardt, Princeton University (@uwejreinhardt)

War Hospital

Sheri Fink, MD

Reporter's Notebook General McChrystal Delivers Afghanistan Strategy Report 5 MIN, 20 SEC

Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he hasn't seen it yet, but it's reported that General Stanley McChrystal has assessed the situation in Afghanistan as "serious," but he says "success is achievable."  The assessment by President Obama's commanding general in Afghanistan could result in decisions about how many troops will be needed to achieve US goals in that country. First to reveal McChrystal's thinking was the BBC. Mark Mardell is North America editor.

Mark Mardell, North America Editor, BBC

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