It’s been a whirlwind of activity for the Fast Forward team. We’ve been North to visit the Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center, South to the Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island, over to the outskirts of Savannah to visit Gulfstream Aerospace and landed back here in Atlanta at the CDC.
Today, I'll tell you about the CDC aka the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. I don’t think many people realize what goes on at the CDC. Maybe it’s because the title sounds like another boring government agency. Maybe it has something to do with the required security clearance needed to go inside. Or maybe it’s because what happens inside helps keep the human race alive.
We were told, “Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to find out what type of people work at the CDC and what do they do.”
Our team moved quickly. We were cleared for admission, given names of employees we could interview and then jumped in our white unmarked van (okay it has a GPB logo) to race over to the CDC Campus. As we pulled up to the gate, the uniformed security officers took our IDs and proceeded to do a thorough search of our vehicle. We were cleared again, parked, unloaded our gear and found ourselves at yet, another security stop. Soon after we cleared that post, we were led through long hallways and several buildings, which brought us to a dark studio downstairs. Here, we were told, "is where you are allowed to conduct interviews".
And here is a sampling of what we uncovered from those conversations.
In Atlanta alone, the CDC employs about 10,000 people who have backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math. These brave souls work together to educate communities about how to become and remain healthy; preventing death by disease. Whether an epidemiologist, lab technician, researcher or microbiologist, each employee’s role helps to solve a mystery…of sorts.
The mystery may be, what caused the virus? How did it spread? What measures are needed to contain the causative agent? Is it coming from inside our borders or finding its way from other countries via planes, trains and automobiles? How do you keep it from returning or even starting in the first place?
Then there’s the not so simple mystery of determining the best way to stay healthy in our ever-changing environments. Remember, staying healthy helps prevent disease.
When you think about it, many of these sleuths sacrifice their safety to protect us. For instance, what about the epidemiologist who went to NYC on 9/11 to determine if and how safe ground zero was for emergency crews? Or will there be future health risks for those who survived? What about the scientist who goes to an epidemic area in a third world country? Will he be infected, while collecting evidence? How do you figure out which food is causing the latest E.Coli breakout?
We asked so many questions and were given plenty of informative answers. And though I’ve been sworn to secrecy until Fast Forward’s CDC segment is posted, I can tell you we have a lot of smart people right here in Atlanta solving dozens of mysteries every minute of every day to keep every one of us alive.