Every spring, in the Italian town of Novara, a team of doctors meticulously plans out a disaster: a bomb planted in a cinema, a terrorist attack in a stadium, an armed conflict between ethnic groups. The casualties usually hover around 150, with each victim played by an actor, and the medical response team played by some 36 doctors and nurses, who are there to learn what to do if a tragedy like this were to happen for real.
Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali, a 45-year-old Iranian doctor living in Sweden, was one of the regulars at the European Master in Disaster Medicine course. Last May, he was supposed to evaluate the other professors on their teaching and give a lecture on how hospitals can prepare for nuclear or chemical catastrophes. But he never showed up.