GNYHA Webinar Explores Impact of Violent Extremism on Health Care

May 24, 2021

GNYHA hosted a webinar last week with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention and NewYork-Presbyterian’s Security and Emergency Management Department on violent extremism and potential impacts on health care. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Director of Training and Emergency Management Barbara Daly led the webinar. A 30-year veteran of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ms. Daly has expertise in behavioral analysis, violent crime, and active shooter preparedness and response.

The webinar detailed national trends involving recruiting individuals into violent extremism and common misunderstandings about how and why people become extremists. Attendees learned about the processes of radicalization and mobilization to violence and the potential impacts on health care providers and institutions. Hospital staff “are perfectly poised to observe the (warning) signs,” Ms. Daly said, noting that violent extremists sometimes show up in the emergency room—such as after accidentally harming themselves while attempting to build a homemade bomb. Extremists could also target hospitals or providers for an attack. Ms. Daly discussed several examples of such attacks. “We see a lot of the red flags—and the end result is the attack.”

Ms. Daly noted that COVID-19 exacerbated the violent extremism threat by prompting many people to spend much of the past year alone and online, perfect conditions for recruiters to connect with vulnerable individuals. Compounding the violent extremism problem is that there is no profile for a violent extremist, she said. Noting that DHS is fully committed to a public health approach to mitigating the problem of violent extremism, Ms. Daly said, “We can contribute to prevention efforts by identifying and doing something” such as notifying law enforcement and mental health providers.

Ms. Daly also provided resources that members may find helpful. Materials and a recording from the event can be found here.