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Afghanistan and the War on Terrorism

(Photo from The Guardian)

Afghanistan and the War on Terrorism

       Fighting terrorism is a different situation than fighting a conventional war because it is not about one nation in conflict with another nation.  Terrorists embody an ideology which conflicts with established culture and values.  In the case of Afghanistan and Al Qaeda, radical interpretations of Islam were used to recruit jihadists to wage guerilla warfare against all people in the West and even other Muslims who did not agree with their interpretation (9-11 Commission, 2004, pg. 55-68).   This defies both the jus ad bellum and jus in bellum traditional requirements for just war.

Jean Bethke Elshtain and the War on Terrorism

       Osama bin Laden fought as a freedom fighter (mujahideen) in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union.  After the Russians were driven out of the country, he organized the terrorist group, Al Qaeda.  The CIA did not become aware of Al Qaeda and its leader until 1996-1997 (9-11 Commission, 2004, pg. 55-68).  After the August 7, 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Osama bin Laden became one of the FBI’s “most wanted fugitives” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017, pg. 390).  After the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush ordered the creation of the Department of Homeland Security with Executive Order No. 13228 on October 8, 2001 (Exec. Order No. 13,228, 2001, pg. 51812). 

       Although Osama bin Laden and the majority of 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, the Al Qaeda training camps were located in Afghanistan.  In fact, forces within Afghanistan and Pakistan were collaborating with the terrorists.  Al Qaeda also had the support of regular citizens in both Afghanistan and Pakistan who felt a strong hatred for the United States.  The Taliban, a fundamentalist Islamic group, had taken over large parts of Afghanistan and supported the use of terror against the West (9/11 Commission, 2004, pg. 47-68).

       Invading Afghanistan was a natural response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.  But the U.S. military should have stayed focused on destroying the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan before embarking on a war in Iraq, especially since the 9/11 Commission found no involvement by Iraq with the attacks on the World Trade Center (9-11 Commission, 2004, pg. 47-80).  Imposing economic sanctions on Pakistan instead of giving them economic aid, in my opinion, might have yielded results sooner.

       The invasion of Afghanistan was justified, from the point of view of Jean Bethke Elshtain, because “those who launched the 9/11 attacks cannot be reasoned with, in the manner the ‘humanists’ would like – and that no change in U.S. policy would have that effect – for the simple reason that: they loathe us because of who we are and what our society represents” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 220-221).

What Role did the U.S. have in Afghanistan Beyond Military Action?

       “In October 2001, the United States of America initiated air strikes on Afghanistan, followed by a ground offensive called Operation Enduring Freedom, to topple the Taliban government and drive out Al Qaeda forces hosted in Afghanistan following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States” (Bella, Giacca, & Casey-Maslen, 2011, pg. 47, 48).  A new government was installed, and with a new regime in control, U.S. troops became peacekeepers, which undermined the original military offensive.  Al Qaeda and the Taliban continued to push back at the expense of American troops.  Although bin Laden was finally killed in 2011, this did not extinguish Al Qaeda or the Taliban.  The U.S. concentrated on re-building Afghanistan, and a new terrorist threat emerged under President Obama: ISIS.

       Elshtain believed that the United States’ War on Terrorism was just because “the United States must take the lead – not alone, to be sure – but it must take the lead in defending human dignity. ‘As the world’s superpower’”” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 221).  If the United States failed in Afghanistan, in my opinion, it is because we lost sight of our goal to destroy the terrorist camps and the power of the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  By not going in and finishing the job, the United States left itself open for more terrorist attacks on American soil, especially since the Taliban now control Afghanistan.

Given the Larger Human Rights Implication that Elshtain Addresses, what Role did the World at Large have in Combating Terrorism?

       Few countries in the world have been left untouched by terrorism, whether it is direct terrorist attacks or taking in refugees from war-torn countries.  For security reasons alone, the United Nations and all countries in the world should be working together to address the issue – which certainly will not go away anytime soon.

       Ultimately, it is the non-combatant citizens who suffer the most when terrorists are wreaking havoc in a country.  According to Amnesty International (2011): “The Taliban and related insurgent groups in Afghanistan show little regard for human rights and the laws of war and systematically and deliberately target civilians, aid workers, and civilian facilities like schools (particularly girls’ schools)” (Bella, Giacca, & Casey-Maslen, 2011, pg. 51).

       The larger humanitarian issues of violence, refugees, homelessness, poverty, and starvation affect all nations in one way or another, and all nations have a moral obligation to address it.  Elshtain called it the “principle of equal regard, faced with a terrible situation, an enormity, one is obliged to think about what is happening, and to conclude that the people dying are human beings and as such equal in moral regard to us” (Dissent, 2005, pg. 60).                                                                                                                                         

References

9-11 Commission. (2004). 9-11 Commission report. Retrieved from

https://www.9-11Commission.gov/report

Bellal, A., Giacca, G., Casey-Maslen, C. (2011, March). International law and armed non-state 

       actors in afghanistan. International Review of the Red Cross 93(881), 47-79.

       Retrieved from https://www.corteidh.or.cr/tablas/r27089.pdf

Dissent, The Editors. (2005, Summer). Interview with jean bethke elshtain. Dissent. Retrieved

       from http://www.dissentmagazine.org/wp-content/files_mf/1390329368d1Interview.pdf

Exec. Order No. 13228, 66 Fed. Reg. 196 (October 10, 2001)

Haddow, G.D., Bullock, J.A., & Coppola, D.P. (2017). Introduction to emergency management.

       (6th ed.). Cambridge, MA: Elsevier

Rengger, N. (2018). Jean bethke elshtain (1941-2013). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll

       (Eds.), Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (216-226). Abingdon, Oxon: 

       Routledge

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 23, 2021; April 1, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

5 Comments »

People will Never Forget

(Artwork from Parle Magazine [http://www.parlemag.com])

Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

COVID-19 put the whole world into a panic. There’s been a lot of verbal abuse, finger pointing, bullying, outright lying, extreme government overreach, hysteria, hypochondria, anxiety, hostility, and fear to last a lifetime. Everybody’s life has been upset in one way or another, with no end in sight. We’ve seen people at their worst.

The question is: if the pandemic ended tomorrow, how would we heal the broken relationships, reverse the mistrust that people feel, overcome the lies, forgive the hurtful words and accusations, and unite as a people? The damage has already been done. People turned on each other like rabid dogs. Some people are still expressing their hatred; their desire to hurt others; their need to segregate; their willingness to kill others who don’t comply with their demands.

The long-term social effects of COVID-19 — and the inept and malicious way in which it has been handled — is a mountain we still have to climb. Will you trust your doctor again? Your teacher? Government bureaucracy? The CDC? DHHS? NIH? The president? Congress? Facebook? Twitter? Big Pharma? Corporate America? The twisted media? The unions? Your interfering ex-friends? Your spying neighbors? Your stressed-out boss? Divisive family members? Attention-seeking celebrities? Will you ever trust ANYONE again?

Will you ever feel safe again? Feel healthy again? Or will you live in fear of the next germ that shows up to affect our lives? Will you still douse yourself in hand sanitizer and wash your hands 10 times a day? Will you still stay 6 feet away from everybody, thereby preventing new relationships into your life? Will you keep popping the tranquilizers, sipping the booze, smoking the weed to alleviate your anxiety? Will you suffer from permanent social anxiety and fear as a result of your experience with the pandemic?

What about the children? Will they be able to trust our authority figures again? Their teachers? Their parents? Their pediatricians? Will they have long-term anxiety and lung problems from wearing masks all day? From social isolation? Inadequate learning? Have they lost valuable social and language skills that would have contributed to their success in life?

And who’s addressing these issues? And does anybody really care?

Dawn Pisturino, RN

January 31, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

12 Comments »

Community Engagement: The Boston Marathon Bombing

Photo Credit: Britannica

The Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013 changed how police departments communicate with the public during important emergency events. For the first time, social media played a critical role in communicating information about the bombings and capturing the culprits (Haddow, 2017).

On the day of the bombings, Commissioner of Police Ed Davis held a press conference. He calmly explained what happened and reassured the public that Boston had a comprehensive emergency response plan in place. The FBI, State Police, National Guard, and ATF were already in the city, offering their services. The Commissioner exuded confidence, control, and common sense. He asked for the public’s help in capturing the perpetrators (Global Breaking News, 2013).

Commissioner of Police Ed Davis and the Boston Police Department were committed to providing accurate, timely information to the public and keeping the lines of two-way communication open. He asked people to stay home and away from crowds for their own safety. He asked people to call the Mayor’s hotline and the Boston PD TIPS line with information (Global Breaking News, 2013).

The Boston Police Department was a leader in using social media to communicate with the public. Photos, videos, and information were shared through Twitter, Facebook, and websites. Inaccurate information was quickly corrected. It was noted by Bar-Tur that “BPD’s presence online helps reinvent the whole notion of community policing for the 21st century” (Haddow, p. 185, 2017). When the Tsarnaev brothers were finally caught, Boston Police Department tweeted a resounding “CAPTURED!!!” (Haddow, p. 185, 2017).

Instead of cowering in fear and feeling powerless, the Boston community was kept involved. This community empowerment contributed to situational awareness and the recovery of Boston after the event.

Global Breaking News. (Presenter). (2013, April 15). First press conference boston marathon

       bomb attack [Video file].Retrieved from (link not working):

Haddow, G.D., Bullock, J.A., & Coppola, D.P. (2017). Introduction to emergency

       management. (6th ed.). Cambridge, MA: Elsevier.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

October 7, 2019

Copyright 2019-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

4 Comments »

Giuliani vs. Nagin: How Mayors Respond to Disasters

New York Daily News Photo

Both the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 in New York City and Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005 were major disasters. One was a manmade disaster and the other a natural disaster. In New York City, the damage was contained in Manhattan. But in New Orleans, the damage was widespread and uncontrolled.

On the night of September 11, 2001, Mayor Rudy Giuliani held a press conference to inform citizens of New York City and the entire nation of what happened, the response to the event, and future recovery. He talked about his own experiences during the event and how he and the people with him survived.

Mayor Giuliani presented himself as calm, rational, and confident. He maintained his composure and self-control. He made it clear to the public that everything was under control. He reassured them that everything was okay, and they were safe.

His message was positive and hopeful. He honored the victims and praised the people who had evacuated in a peaceful and civilized manner and helped each other along the way. He emphasized how proud he was of the people and first responders of New York City.

Giuliani became emotional when talking about the first responders and fire and police personnel who died. He asked everyone to pray for the victims and to be grateful that they were alive.

Towards the end of the news conference, he stressed that members of the Muslim community would be protected. He condemned all acts of vigilante violence and retaliation. He asked people who worked in Manhattan to stay home from work.

The mayor projected a feeling of hope, security, and confidence that the U.S. government would deal with the perpetrators and New York City would rebuild and be stronger than before.

Three days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans, Mayor Ray Nagin made an impassioned plea on WWL Radio for help. He described the horrific conditions in New Orleans and the lack of response by FEMA and the federal government. His anger and frustration were real. He was clearly traumatized by events.

When I was listening to him, I kept thinking that here is a man who feels powerless. There was apparently no clear chain of command or designated people in authority. Mayor Nagin was there, on the ground, asking for the authority to do something from people who seemed indifferent to the situation. He reminded everyone that FEMA knew about the problems with the pumping stations and did nothing. He wanted to know when the help promised by the federal government was coming. He deplored the fact that valuable resources were being wasted on looters and lawlessness instead of rescuing and helping victims.

At the end of the broadcast, he called on the public to be active in contacting authorities and demanding help for New Orleans. He contrasted the immediate response and aftermath of 9/11 to the lack of response to New Orleans. He was outraged.

Mayor Nagin had every right to be outraged by the slow response to Hurricane Katrina. And maybe his angry message was what it took to get things done.

Authentic History. (Presenter). (2011, January 11). 9/11 news coverage: 10:00 pm: Mayor rudy

       giuliani press conference [Video file]. Retrieved from  

       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DZw0Q6WUsA.

Froomkin, M. (Presenter). (2005, September 2). Interview with mayor ray nagin of new orleans

       [Audio file]. Retrieved from

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

October 7, 2019

Copyright 2019-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

3 Comments »

What 9/11 Taught Us about Communications and Social Media


What Happened on September 11, 2001
:

„ At 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City (911 Memorial, 2018).

„ John Murphy, CEO of Oppenheimer Funds, was jogging in Battery Park when he saw the smoke. He assumed that an airplane had inadvertently crashed into the World Trade Center (Argenti, 2002).

„ Mary Beth Bardin, executive vice-president of public affairs and communications at Verizon, was stuck in traffic when she noticed the smoke. She assumed that a building was on fire in downtown Manhattan. When the cab driver turned on the news, she learned that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center (Argenti, 2002).

„ Verizon suffered major communications damage. “The attack knocked out 300,000 voice access lines and 4.5 million data circuits and left ten cellular towers inactive, depriving 14,000 businesses and 20,000 residential customers of service” (Argenti, para. 9, 2002).

„ Communication breakdowns abounded during the emergency response to the attacks on the World Trade Center. 911 operators had no clue of what was actually happening. Orders to evacuate were misunderstood or not received. Telephone lines were jammed with callers. Signals to firefighter radios failed. Public address and intercom systems inside the World Trade Center went out (CBS News, 2004; Sharp, 2011).

„ Confusion and lack of situational awareness led to higher casualties. People in the South Tower were told not to evacuate and to wait for instructions and help from emergency personnel. Others evacuated up, toward the roof, not knowing that they needed a key to get onto the roof (CBS News, 2004).

„ A “long-standing rivalry between the NYPD and FDNY” (CBS News, para. 23, 2004) led to disputes over command authority. Fire and police personnel were using different radio channels and could not communicate with one another (CBS News, 2004; Sharp, 2011). A repeater system installed in the World Trade Center after the 1993 bombing was not completely functional (Sharp, 2011). All of these issues were addressed in the 9/11 Commission Report.

* * *

People in New York City Knew Something was Happening, but They Didn’t Know What!

A lot of Changes have Happened Since 9/11:

Post-9/11, the Department of Homeland Security was created, and a National Incident Management System was established to designate clear lines of authority during disaster events.

„ The role of Communications has evolved.

„ Better technologies have been developed.

„ The rise of Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other social media networks has allowed two-way communication with the public.

„ Emergency managers now hire trained communication specialists to communicate accurate, timely information to the media, community and national leaders, and the public. (Haddow, 2017).

* * *

Why are these Changes Important?

„ New York City now has a state-of-the-art fire department operations center. During a disaster, the FDOC contacts other agencies for help. Personnel report to FDOC senior staff. The department’s incident management teams can be activated. FDOC can access NYPD videos, the Department of Transportation digital photographs, and live videos from media helicopters and ground vehicles. FDOC can monitor, record, and replay radio transmissions from Fire, EMS, NYPD, OEM, and others. FDOC can act as a command center. (Sharp, 2011)

„ FDNY now uses multi-frequency radio systems to communicate with each other and NYPD (Sharp, 2011).

„ Training in National Incident Management System processes is now mandatory to ensure that agencies are working together, using the same language, and sharing information with each other (Sharp, 2011).

„ The changes made in New York City have been duplicated in communities all across the country.

„ Community first responders now have social media sites on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks to educate the public about disaster preparedness; relay accurate, timely information to the public during a disaster event; and help members of the community to register for disaster aid and find relief shelters (Haddow, 2017).

* * *

Use the Internet for Disaster Information:

„ In 2001, YouTube, Google News, Facebook, and Twitter did not exist (Praetorius, 2012).

„ Today, the Internet allows free access to all kinds of information:

„ Social networks like Facebook

„ Blogs like Blogger and WordPress

„ Microblogs like Twitter

„ Crowdsourcing and Forums like LiveJournal

„ Digital Mapping like Google Maps

„ Websites

„ Podcasts and TV and Radio broadcasts

„ Video Sharing like YouTube

„ Photo Sharing like Instagram

„ Wiki sites like Wikipedia (Haddow, 2017).

* * *

Participate with Social Media:

„ “Social media is imperative to emergency management because the public uses these communication tools regularly” (Haddow, p. 171, 2017).

„ Submitting videos, photos, digital maps, and information

„ Receiving information about casualties, injuries, and damage

„ Communicating with friends, family, and co-workers

„ Raising money for disaster relief

„ Learning about preparedness and evacuation routes

„ Receiving guidance, information, and moral support

„ Learning how to find relief shelters and registering for aid

„ Access to FEMA information

„ Access to press conferences and local news (Haddow, 2017).

* * *

Summing it all Up:

„ “The mission of an effective disaster communication strategy is to provide timely and accurate information to the public in all four phases of emergency management” (Haddow, p. 162, 2017).

„ “Information sharing is the basis of effective disaster communications” (Haddow, p. 191, 2017).

(This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC By-NC-ND)

* * *

Honor the Heroes!

(This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC By-NC-ND)

View the Power Point Presentation on Dropbox:

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

October 7, 2019

Copyright 2019-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

References

911Memorial. (2018). 9/11 Memorial Timeline. Retrieved from http://www.timeline.911memorial.org/#FrontPage.

Argenti, P. (2002, December). Crisis communication: Lessons from

9/11. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://www.hbr.org/2002/12/crisis-communication-lessons-

from-911.

Associated Press. (2004, May). Communication breakdown on

9/11. CBS News. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/communication- breakdown-on-9-11.

Haddow, G.D., Bullock, J.A., & Coppola, D.P. (2017). Introduction to emergency management. (6th ed.). Cambridge, MA: Elsevier.

Praetorius, D. (2012, November). How social media would have changed new york on 9/11. Huffington Post. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/social-media-9-11-new-York_b_ 1872764.

Sharp, K. (2011, September). Interoperability & other lessons from 9/11.

       Public Safety Communications. Retrieved from https://psc.apcointl.org/2011/09/06/911-10-years-later

7 Comments »

In Honor of the Flight 93 Heroes, September 11, 2001

Flight 93 National Memorial Wall of Names in Pennsylvania

I’m crying as I write this.

It’s hard to remember and write about the events that happened on 9/11 without weeping, gnashing my teeth in anger, and praising the innocent brave souls who lost their lives. As our country moves farther away from decency, patriotism, and traditional American values, it’s important to remember the heroes who willingly gave their lives trying to divert another terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol Building. It’s imperative that we defeat and crush the enemies of the United States, both inside and outside of America – no matter who they are and what position they might hold.

We now have members of Congress who actively work against decent citizens of the United States. These worthless dogs dress themselves up in fine clothes, healthy bank accounts, and politically correct (for the Left) rhetoric and prey on the weak-minded and uneducated. (Having a college degree doesn’t make a person educated.)

We now have a President and Vice-President who deliberately sell themselves to Communist China and terrorists, while undermining the interests of America and the American people. These “leaders” – and I use the word loosely – come off as treasonous traitors to the United States. In my opinion, they should be court-martialed and face a military firing squad for their crimes against America and the American people. The same should be true of all politicians and corporate leaders who line their pockets at the people’s expense and betray our great country.

The sacrifice of the passengers and crew of Flight 93 calls out to us, urging us to save our country from the obscene, degraded, and depraved maniacs who hate their own country, pervert science, normalize insanity and criminality, glorify death and destruction, and revel in dirt and excrement.

Timeline of Events

At 09:23 am, the Aircraft Communication Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) began issuing warnings about hijackers boarding planes and using them as weapons of mass destruction. United Airlines Flight 93 was notified at 09:27:25 am.

At 09:28:05 am, members of the radical Islamic terrorist group, Al Qaeda, hijacked the plane, taking over the cockpit and subduing the passengers. They were later identified as Ziad Jarrah, Ahmed al-Numi, Ahmed al-Haznawi, and Saeed al-Ghamdi. Their leader, Jarrah, had trained in Afghanistan for three months, met Osama bin Laden in January of 2000, and arrived in Florida in June of 2000 to take flight lessons and to study martial arts.

At 09:28:17 am, the Cleveland controller heard screaming over the radio transmission and LeRoy Homer, Jr. crying, “Mayday! Mayday! Get out of here! Get out of here! Get out of here!”

At 09:31:57 am, the cockpit voice recorder kicked in and recorded the last 30 minutes of the flight. Jarrah was heard talking to the passengers and saying, “We have a bomb on board.” The message was accidentally sent to the Cleveland Air Traffic controller.

At 09:39 am, Jarrah was heard announcing, “We are going back to the airport, and we have our demands.” In reality, the flight was turned eastward towards Washington, D.C. Although some have speculated that the White House was the target, the 9/11 Commission believed, based on evidence, that it was the U.S. Capitol Building that was the real target.

At this point, Captain Jason Dahl may have disabled the autopilot. It was later discovered that passengers and crew had made 35 airphone calls and two cell phone calls, warning family and friends of what was happening. The passengers came up with a plan to take back the plane and revolted at 09:57 am. They allegedly used the food cart to try and break into the cockpit. One of the hijackers guarding the door may have been killed.

At 10:03:09 am, a male voice speaking English cried, “Pull it up!” The plane was deliberately crashed by the hijackers at 10:03:11 am.

In the meantime, Vice-President Dick Cheney, safe inside the Presidential Emergency Operation Center under the White House, ordered Flight 93 to be shot down. After the plane crashed, he called the passengers and crew “heroes.”

A permanent memorial to the passengers and crew of Flight 93 was dedicated on September 10, 2011.

Crew members

Captain Jason Dahl

First Officer LeRoy Homer, Jr.

Lorraine Bay

Sandra Bradshaw

Wanda Green

CeeCee Lyles

Deborah Welsh

The 33 passengers included several foreign nationals.

The American passengers were innocent victims and died for their country. They sacrificed their own lives by standing up to the terrorists, who were forced to then crash the plane into an empty field in Pennsylvania. The foreign passengers who died as innocent victims were in the wrong country at the wrong time. Please pray for all of them and their families.

Let this be a lesson to all of us that life can change on the turn of a dime. The enemies of America never sleep. And we must be equally watchful and alert to the danger they pose.

Dawn Pisturino

September 8, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

6 Comments »

Communications and Social Media in Emergency Management

FEMA communications station

At 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.  Seventeen minutes later, United Airlines Flight 175 smashed into the South Tower.  At 9:37 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77 nose-dived into the Pentagon building in Arlington, Virginia.  All three airlines had been hijacked by members of the radical Islamic terrorist organization, Al Qaeda (Haddow, 2017; 911 Memorial, 2018).

Communication breakdowns were widespread during the emergency response to the attacks on the World Trade Center.  911 operators did not know what was actually happening.  Evacuation orders were confused and misleading.  Telephone lines were jammed with callers, and cell towers were down.  Signals to firefighter radios failed.    Public address and intercom systems inside the World Trade Center went out (CBS News, 2004; Sharp, 2011).

Confusion and lack of situational awareness led to higher casualties, especially among first responders.  People in the South Tower were told not to evacuate and to wait for instructions and aid from emergency personnel.  Others evacuated up, toward the roof, not knowing that they needed a key to get outside to the roof (CBS News, 2004).

Fire and police personnel were using different radio channels and could not communicate with one another (CBS News, 2004; Sharp, 2011).  A repeater system installed in the World Trade Center after the 1993 bombing was not completely functional (Sharp, 2011).

By the time the Boston Marathon bombings occurred on April 15, 2013, emergency managers had learned the importance of communications during disaster events.  For the first time, social media played a critical role in communicating information about the bombings and capturing the culprits (Haddow, 2017).

The Boston Police Department was a leader in using social media to communicate with the public.  Photos, videos, and information were shared through Twitter, Facebook, and websites.  Inaccurate information was quickly corrected.  When the Tsarnaev brothers were finally caught, Boston Police Department tweeted a resounding “CAPTURED!!!” (Haddow, p. 185, 2017).

“Information sharing is the basis of effective disaster communications” (Haddow, p. 191, 2017). The public needs to know what is happening and where to get help.  TV, radio, and newspapers have been the traditional media used for information.  But the use of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter has changed all that.

“Social media is imperative to emergency management because the public uses these communication tools regularly” (Haddow, p. 171, 2017).  Not only can members of the public receive accurate and timely information from reliable sources, but they can help response efforts by submitting videos, photos, digital maps, and other information.

The use of social media allows friends and family to communicate with one another.  They can view press conferences by local and national leaders.  Information about shelters and registering for aid is readily available.  People can contribute donations through websites (Haddow, 2017).

On the downside, social media has been responsible for spreading hysteria and misinformation across the Internet.  “Misleading, faulty, or malicious information or pictures” (Haddow, p. 161, 2017) can hamper response and relief efforts.  Dishonest people have been known to solicit donations for relief aid that never reached the intended source.  When terrorism is involved, calls for retaliation are often posted.

Emergency managers have found that interacting with the public through two-way communication is an effective tool during disaster events.  When emergency managers and local leaders commit themselves to providing timely and accurate information to the public, the whole community benefits.  Communication specialists are now an important part of every Office of Emergency Management.  They work with the local media to get disaster and relief information out quickly and effectively.  Understanding what is actually going on helps members of the public to make well-informed decisions about evacuation, relief aid, and recovery (Haddow, 2017).

“The mission of an effective disaster communications strategy is to provide timely and accurate information to the public in all four phases of emergency management” (Haddow, p.162, 2017).  Social media can provide information about disaster preparedness and limiting damages resulting from disasters.   Local emergency responders can provide warnings of an impending event, information about evacuation routes, and up-to-date details about an ongoing event.  After the event, social media and websites can help people register for and receive disaster aid.  The FEMA website offers complete information about its mission and what services are available to disaster victims (Haddow, 2017).

Decades of experience have taught emergency managers the value of effective communication.  Improved communication technology and social media contribute enormously to that goal.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

October 10, 2019

Copyright 2019-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

References

911 Memorial. (2018). 9/11 Memorial Timeline. Retrieved from

       http://www.timeline.911Memorial.org/#FrontPage.

Associated Press. (2004, May). Communication breakdown on 9/11. CBS News. Retrieved from

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/communication-breakdown-on-9-11.

Haddow, G.D., Bullock, J.A., & Coppola, D.P. (2017). Introduction to emergency management.

       (6th ed.). Cambridge, MA: Elsevier.

Sharp, K. (2011, September). Interoperability & other lessons from 9/11. Public Safety

       Communications. Retrieved from

7 Comments »

A Case Study in Drought: Bullhead City, Arizona

New York Post – Lake Mead at Hoover Dam

Bullhead City, Arizona Primary Hazard: Drought

According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, drought is considered a creeping natural hazard because it has no “clear beginning and end like tornadoes or hurricanes or floods” (National Drought Mitigation Center, 2019, para. 19).  It can develop over many months or years as the climate in a region changes.  This is called “natural climate variability . . . we consider drought to be a normal part of climate just like floods, hurricanes, blizzards, and tornadoes” (National Drought Mitigation Center, 201, para. 7).

Why Bullhead City has the Highest Probability of Drought

Bullhead City, Arizona is a desert community on the Colorado River which sits at an elevation of 566 feet above sea level.  Roughly 40,000 people call it home (City Data, 2017).  Due to an abundance of rain and snow during the 2018-2019 winter season, the U.S. Drought Monitor determined in June, 2019 that Bullhead City had graduated from drought to an abnormally dry area (Associated Press, 2019).  As of this writing, however, the monsoon season—which normally dumps a lot of rain in the area—has been sparse, and Bullhead City is in danger of falling back into drought if the 2019-2020 winter season does not produce adequate precipitation.

Lack of precipitation affects water levels in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.  Lake Mead, which is held in place by the Hoover Dam, supplies the bulk of water used by residents in Bullhead City and other populated areas along the Colorado River (Associated Press, 2019).

In April, 2019, Congress passed an updated Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan which affects Arizona, California, Nevada, and other states dependent on the Colorado River for water and hydroelectric power.  If Arizona loses its Colorado River allotment, communities will have to pump groundwater, which can be contaminated with natural nitrate and arsenic, or find other alternatives, such as the unpopular use of recycled water (Whitman, 2019).                                                                                                                                         

Removing contaminants raises the cost of water to consumers.  The ideal situation is “to pump only as much groundwater as flows back underground, a balance known as safe yield, by 2025” (Whitman, 2019, para. 13).  But that is a tough goal to implement.  Water conservation measures can stifle growth, an unpopular idea in high-growth areas.

Currently, the Colorado River supplies water to more than 30 million people in seven states, with 70% of that water used for agriculture (Zielinski, 2010).  When government officials designated water allotments to these states in 1922, there were far fewer people living in the region.  And the strain is showing: “the Colorado River no longer regularly reaches the sea” (Zielinski, 2010, para.10).  In fact, it turns into a pathetic mud puddle 50 miles north of the Pacific Ocean.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) plans to build a solar-powered pump station south of Hoover Dam on the Colorado River that would continually refill Lake Mead and produce a continuous supply of hydroelectric power to millions of people in California.  The fear is that this project would shrink water supplies to communities farther down the Colorado River—such as Bullhead City (Grossman, 2018).

Shrinking water supplies, smaller water allotments, and increased demand have fueled tensions between the states dependent on the Colorado River—especially, between Arizona and California.  And those tensions are not going away anytime soon (Runyon & Jaspers, 2019).

Preparedness, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery

Bullhead City has its own Drought/Water Shortage Contingency Plan.  The Arizona State Legislature passed House bill 2277 in 2005 which requires communities to develop and maintain a system water plan that includes three parts: a water supply plan, a water conservation plan, and a drought preparedness plan.  This requirement has become part of the State’s water resource management plan to develop preparedness and mitigation strategies at both the local and state level (City of Bullhead City, 2016).

The United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) also requires local communities to develop drought/water shortage contingency plans to conserve water.  These plans outline community response to reductions in the water supply due to drought, infrastructure failure, or other causes (City of Bullhead City, 2016).

Bullhead City depends solely on the Colorado River for its water supply.  Arizona’s water allotment was designated in the 1922 Colorado River Compact.  “The city of Bullhead City diverts its Colorado River surface water allocation through groundwater wells” (City of Bullhead City, 2016, p. 5).  This is possible because of the Colorado River aquifer that exists.

The Secretary of the Interior can declare a shortage of Colorado River water.  All states dependent on the Colorado River would be forced to share in the water shortage as determined  by the 2007 Record of Decision – Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and the Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead.  Bullhead City’s right to Colorado River water is fourth priority, which means that communities with higher priority will get their Colorado River water first.  The Mohave County Water Authority (MCWA) has set aside 107, 239 acre-feet of long-term water credits for Bullhead City.  Bullhead City, along with other Colorado River communities, has been given until 2026 to put preparedness plans in place to respond to drought and water shortages (City of Bullhead City, 2016).

If the water credits are eventually used, Bullhead City has a contract with the Central Arizona Project water canal to use groundwater pumping to recover their allotted water.  The use of such credits would incur extra costs that would be passed on to consumers (City of Bullhead City, 2016).

Bullhead City has developed plans to respond to a 20% and a 40% reduction in water supplies.  Both plans call for the unpopular use of reclaimed (recycled) water.  The extensive use of reclaimed water would require the building of extra infrastructure (City of Bullhead City, 2016). 

The response plan for Bullhead City has been developed as a staged response with the following components: water use reduction; priority users and water reduction; water rates/financial incentives; the role of private water companies; preparedness and mitigation plans for private water companies sub-contracted by Bullhead City; voluntary versus mandatory water reduction; agricultural irrigation versus drinking water; water conservation; public education; stored water recovery and delivery; scenarios of probable water shortage conditions; the use of reclaimed water; demand versus supply evaluation.  These plans would be implemented according to the water level in Lake Mead.  The strictest water management plans would be enforced when the level in Lake Mead is at or below 1,025 feet (City of Bullhead City, 2016).

In the meantime, Bullhead City has waged a public education campaign about the use of xeriscaping using low-water plants and trees; drip irrigation; and harvesting rainwater for landscape use (Water Resources Research Center, 2019).  Tips on conserving water are freely available on the city’s website.  Water rebates are available to consumers.  Water usage reports are available for public perusal.  And water development fees have been imposed to improve water services in the city (City of Bullhead City, 2019).

Bullhead City receives an average of 3 to12 inches of rain a year (Arizona Water Facts, 2019).  Epcor, a private water company, has raised consumer water rates 25% to 35% during the drought.  This situation has prompted Bullhead City to introduce Proposition 415, which would approve a bond up to $130 million to buy out the company (City of Bullhead City, 2019).  If approved, the city will own another source of water and provide water services at a lower cost to consumers.

Identify Gaps and Suggest Expansion of Preparedness, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery Plans

Bullhead City has not done enough to control population growth.  The city advertises itself as the lowest cost of living city in the state based on a 2015 study done by the Council for Community and Economic Research (Merrill, 2015).  This draws more people on fixed incomes from within and outside of the state.  These people can ill afford to pay higher water rates and development fees.  And if water supplies are, indeed, shrinking, Bullhead City can ill afford to add more people to its population.

Furthermore, if Bullhead City plans to use reclaimed water in the future, it needs to build the infrastructure now, and not wait for an emergency situation to arise.

Initial Evaluation and Emergency Management Procedures

Drought is the main hazard facing Bullhead City, Arizona.  It is dependent on water supplied by the Colorado River and the allotment it receives based on the Colorado River Compact of 1922.  Although it has plans in place for a 20% and 40% reduction in water supplies, it has not planned for anything more severe.  At the very worst, the governor of the State of Arizona would declare a disaster and water would have to be trucked in for residential and business use.  A lack of water would lead to social chaos and fighting among citizens.  There would be a mass exodus of people out of town.  Law enforcement would be heavily involved to control the situation. EMS personnel and local hospitals would have to deal with people who were severely dehydrated.  Animals would be abandoned and left to die from thirst.  City officials would be overwhelmed by demands for water.

Interrelationships among the Core Components of the Emergency Management Phases

Drought and water shortages can vary from season to season.  Preparedness plans to deal with these problems and to mitigate the costs and impacts are essential to protect the vital resource of water.  Well-conceived plans must be in place to respond to serious shortages of water for the sake of the community.  If the problem becomes serious enough, there might not be a recovery phase.

Conclusion

The desert was never meant to support millions of people.  Water is a precious resource that has not been taken seriously enough by government officials, city planners, and members of the real estate and development professions.  Bullhead City is dependent on a river it cannot control, weather and climate it cannot control, and State politicians it cannot control.  The city must do whatever it takes to protect its water supply.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

September 24, 2019

References

Arizona Water Facts. (2019). Bullhead City, Arizona. Retrieved from

       http://www.arizonawaterfacts.com/mtw/bullhead-city.

Associated Press. (2019. June). Arizona out of short-term drought. Mohave Daily News.

       Retrieved from http://www.mohavedailynews.com/news/arizona-out-of-short-term-

       drought/article_8c36c50a-9259-11e9-ab41-9b4eacdd7bd1.html

City Data. (2017). Bullhead City, Arizona. Retrieved from

       http://www.city-data.com/city/Bullhead-City-Arizona.html

City of Bullhead City. (2019). City of Bullhead City. Retrieved from

       http://www.bullheadcity.com

City of Bullhead City. (2016). City of bullhead city drought/water shortage contingency

       plan. Retrieved fromhttp://www.bullheadcity.com/home/showdocument?id=7546

Grossman, D. (2018, July). The hoover dam changed america – And it might do it again.

       Popular Mechanics. Retrieved from

https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/infrastructure/922539919/the-hoover-dam-

       changed-americaand-it-might-do-it-again.

Merrill, Laurie. (2015, June). Which arizona cities will cost you the least. AZ Central.

       Retrieved from https://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/2015/06/17/bullhead-

       city-cheapest-arizona-city/28899239.

National Drought Mitigation Center. (2019). What is drought. Retrieved from

       http://www.drought.unl.edu/Education/Drought forKids/What is Drought.aspx.

Runyon, L. & Jaspers, B. (2019, February). What is happening with the colorado river drought

       plans. KPBS. Retrieved from

https://www.kpbs.org/news/2019/feb/07/what-is-happening-colorado-river-drought-plans.

Water Resources Research Center. (2019). Low-Water tree and plant guide. Retrieved from

       http://www.wrrc.arizona.edu

Whitman, E. (2019, April). After colorado river drought plan, what’s next for water in arizona.

       Retrieved from https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/content/print/view/11268880.

Zielinski, S. (2010, October). The colorado river runs dry. Smithsonian Magazine.

       Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-colorado-river-runs-

       dry-61427169.

7 Comments »

The Evolution of Emergency Management in the United States

Associated Press

What is “emergency management?”  According to Haddow, Bullock, and Coppola (2017), “the definition of emergency management can be extremely broad and all-encompassing.”  It is an evolving discipline whose priorities have changed in response to diverse events, political leadership, and scientific advances.

The nature of the events and the responses of political leaders have been the most influential in shaping emergency management priorities and organizational structure.  Since emergency management “deals with risk and risk avoidance” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017), no single event will be handled in precisely the same way.  A terrorist attack like 9/11, which was a major criminal event that involved foreigners and foreign countries, will have a much greater impact on the psyche of the American people and affect a broader range of government departments, than a natural event like a hurricane or earthquake.

The U.S. Constitution “gives the states the responsibility for public health and safety – hence the responsibility for public risks – with the federal government in a secondary role.  The federal role is to help when the state, local or individual entity is overwhelmed” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

What kind of events can hit American communities?  Natural events include floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, storm surges, tornadoes, wildfires, land movements such as avalanches and mudslides, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, severe winter storms, drought, extremes of heat and cold, coastal erosion, thunderstorms, lightning, and hail.  Technological events can include building fires, dam failures, hazardous material incidents, nuclear and radiation accidents. 

Criminal events include terrorism and the potential use of biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).      

On May 31, 1889, the South Fork dam in Johnstown, PA failed, and “unleashed 20,000,000 tons of water that devastated” the town and killed 2,209 residents (National Park Service,2017).  The failure was caused by inadequate construction, maintenance, and repair.  This event caught the attention of the entire world, and people banded together to help “the Johnstown sufferers” (National Park Service, 2017).

In 1803, Congress passed legislation authorizing federal funds to help a town in New Hampshire destroyed by fire.  This set the precedence for federal involvement in local events.  But it was under Franklin D. Roosevelt “that the federal government began to make significant investments in emergency management functions” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

The Reconstruction Finance Corporation and the Bureau of Public Roads were authorized “to make disaster loans available for repair and reconstruction of certain public facilities” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017) in the 1930s. The Tennessee Valley Authority – established to produce hydroelectric power – also sought to reduce flooding in the valley (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

The Flood Control Act of 1936 authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “to design and build flood-control projects” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  Now, “humans could control nature” and promote growth and development in areas previously unavailable (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

The 1950s and the Cold War brought a whole new dynamic to the discipline of emergency management.  Scientists had succeeded in creating a whole new arsenal of weapons with the capability of destroying the world.  The potential for nuclear holocaust was so great, “civil defense programs proliferated across communities” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  People built bomb shelters to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.  A feeling of paranoia gripped the entire nation as U.S. politicians engaged diplomatically with representatives from the Soviet Union.                                                                            

The Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA) was a poorly-funded department “whose main role was to provide technical assistance” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017) in the event of nuclear attack.  In reality, however, it was the civil defense directors at the local and state levels who shaped the policies and response to potential disaster.

The 1960s focused attention on natural disasters, and the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 was passed by Congress.  The National Flood Insurance Program was subsequently created, which helped to ease the burden on homeowners located in flood areas and to act proactively before the floods began.  This legislation emphasized “the concept of community-based mitigation” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  When communities joined the NFIP, they committed themselves to passing local ordinances which controlled development in floodplain areas.  The federal government produced floodplain maps to support these ordinances.

George Bernstein, who became head of the Federal Insurance Administration under President Richard Nixon, strengthened the program by “linking the mandatory purchase of flood insurance to all homeowner loans that were backed by federal mortgages” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  This led to the Flood Insurance Act of 1972.

During the 1970s, “more than 100 federal agencies were involved in some aspect of risks and disasters” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  The fragmentation, conflicts, and confusion that resulted were no different on the state and local levels.  When Three Mile Island occurred, these problems became all-too-apparent to the general public.  As a result, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was created by Congress under President Jimmy Carter, with the director reporting directly to the president.

Reorganization Plan Number 3, which created FEMA, sought to establish the following guidelines: FEMA workers “were to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to major civil emergencies” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017); the agency would demand “the most efficient use of all available resources” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017); “emergency responsibilities should be extensions of federal agencies” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017); and “federal hazard mitigation activities should be closely linked with emergency preparedness and response functions” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

In the 1980s, civil defense became the priority under President Ronald Reagan.  Director Louis Giuffrida reorganized FEMA, moved multiple departments into one building, and placed the agency’s priority “on government preparedness for a nuclear attack” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  Giuffrida resigned after a financial scandal, which undermined the credibility of the agency.  The new director, Julius Becton, worked to restore “integrity to the operations and appropriations of the agency” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  Under Becton’s leadership, natural hazards like earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods were given a low priority, confirming that the agency “continued the pattern of isolating resources for national security priorities without recognizing the potential of a major natural disaster” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

Senator Al Gore, during Senate hearings, questioned FEMA’s priorities and its preparedness in the event of a major earthquake.  FEMA was pressured to create an earthquake preparedness plan which “would later become the standard for all of the federal agencies’ response operations” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

Under George H.W. Bush, multiple natural disasters occurred – including Hurricane Andrew – which affected people’s perception of FEMA.  “People wanted, and expected, their government to be there to help in their time of need” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  FEMA was perceived as weak and ineffective.

James Witt was appointed Director by President Bill Clinton.  Witt had extensive experience in emergency management and reorganized FEMA to support community relations, the efficient use of new technology, and an emphasis on “mitigation and risk avoidance” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

The 1990s heralded a new wave of natural disasters.  FEMA successfully handled the Midwest floods of 1993 and initiated “the largest voluntary buyout and relocation program to date in an effort to move people out of the floodplain . . .” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

Director Witt became a member of Clinton’s cabinet and persuaded state governors “to include their state emergency management directors in their cabinets” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  This is how important emergency management had become.

The bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and the Oklahoma Bombing in 1995 reaffirmed the notion that terrorist events fall into the category of “risks and the consequences of those risks” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  Emergency management has been an important part of handling similar events.

FEMA’s Project impact: Building Disaster-Resistant Communities heralded “a new community-based approach” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017) that required communities “to identify risks and establish a plan to reduce those risks” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  The ultimate goal was for the community to “promote sustainable economic development, protect and enhance its natural resources, and ensure a better quality of life for its citizens” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

Project Impact was defunded under President George W. Bush.  After the unexpected earthquake in Seattle, however, FEMA received a lot of praise from Seattle’s mayor, and the program was restored.  Seattle, it turned out, had been “one of the most successful Project impact communities” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

The events of 9/11 proved the effectiveness of FEMA when “hundreds of response personnel initiated their operations within just minutes of the onset of events” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  FEMA was then incorporated into the newly-formed Department of Homeland Security and lost much of its effectiveness and power.  The new National Incident Management System (NIMS) fell under the auspices of the Director of Operations Coordination (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

The threat of Hurricane Katrina off the Gulf Coast in 2005 prompted President Bush to declare “a disaster in advance of an emergency event for the states in the projected impact zone” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017) and caused DHS/FEMA to shoulder the responsibility.  Their response was a failure.

Obama’s appointee, W. Craig Fugate, designated victims of disasters as “survivors” and developed the Whole Community concept which emphasized “preparedness partnerships that had been developed among federal, state, local, private sector, voluntary, and non-profit entities” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  Involving people from all sectors of the community has increased the effectiveness of emergency management response to disasters.

The history and development of emergency management prove how events influence and shape government policies, departmental organization, leadership priorities, and government response to national emergencies.  When all citizens get involved, emergency preparedness and response protect communities and mitigate the costs of recovery.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

August 8, 2019

Copyright 2019-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

References

Haddow, G.D., Bullock, J.A., & Coppola, D.P. (2017). Introduction to emergency

       management. Cambridge, MA: Elsevier Inc.

National Park Service. (2017). Johnstown flood national memorial pennsylvania.

       Retrieved from http://www.nps.gov/jofl/index.htm.

7 Comments »

9/11, the Incident Command System, and the National Incident Management System

Incident Command System and the National Incident Management System

[Twenty] years ago, America changed forever.  Protecting our nation from terrorist attacks became the primary objective.  The systems and operations developed to prepare, plan, mitigate, respond, and recover from terrorist attacks expanded to include ALL disasters.  We now have a national disaster plan which is utilized at the local, tribal, state, and federal levels.

Brief Overview of the Events of 9/11

At 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.  Seventeen minutes later, United Airlines Flight 175 smashed into the South Tower.  At 9:37 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77 nose-dived into the Pentagon building in Arlington, Virginia.  All three airplanes had been hijacked by members of the radical Islamic terrorist organization, Al Qaeda (Haddow, 2017; 911 Memorial, 2018).

“The use of fuel-filled planes caused catastrophic fires in all three buildings impacted, and this led to collapse of both World Trade Center towers and the wing of the Pentagon directly affected” (Haddow, 2017, p. 393).  The federal government has spent more than $20 billion on the response and recovery of the World Trade Center attacks alone.  On the positive side, the events of 9/11 led to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the development and implementation of a more comprehensive and advanced national response to disasters, regardless of size and cause (Haddow, 2017).

The Core Components of the National Incident Management System (NIMS)

“NIMS was created to integrate effective practices in emergency preparedness and response into a comprehensive national framework for incident management” (Haddow, 2017, p.247).  Its flexibility allows it to adapt to any kind of disaster, from routine incidents involving local communities to large-scale events, such as hurricanes or earthquakes (DHS, 2008).  NIMS provides a template for “coordination and standardization among emergency management/response personnel and their affiliated organizations” (DHS, 2008, p.7).

The National Incident Management System is guided by five core components: preparedness; communications and information management; resource management; command and management; and ongoing management and maintenance.  The National Integration Center is responsible for directing NIMS, using the latest technology and operational systems (DHS, 2008).

Preparedness is a multi-task discipline which uses assessment skills; advanced planning; appropriate procedures and protocols; up-to-date training and practice exercises; skilled personnel with the proper licensure and certification; the latest technology and equipment; and the ability to evaluate responses to events and revise protocols and procedures for improved responses to future events (DHS, 2008).

Communications and information management are crucial to emergency responders because all command and coordination stations must share a common goal and operating system in order to work effectively as a team (DHS, 2008).

Resource management demands that “the flow of resources [personnel, equipment, etc.] be fluid and adaptable to the requirements of the incident” (DHS, 2008, p. 8)  Without a well-coordinated movement of resources to the disaster site, responders cannot do their job in a timely and efficient manner.

Command and management “enable effective and efficient incident management and coordination by providing a flexible, standardized incident management structure” (DHS, 2008, p. 8) which involves the Incident Command System, Multi-agency Coordination Systems, and public information.  Jurisdiction, authority, and multi-agency involvement must be decided and coordinated before and during the disaster event for the response to be successful.

Ongoing management and maintenance by the National Integration Center ensures that the National Incident Management System will always perform at a top-notch level.  Failures and successes must be evaluated and addressed and systems refined accordingly (DHS, 2008).

How the Components of NIMS Support and Complete the Incident Command System (ICS)

“NIMS was developed as an outgrowth of ICS that allows for increased interorganizational coordination that is not necessarily addressed under standard ICS structures.  The system is designed to be a more comprehensive incident management system than ICS because it goes beyond the field-level incident command and control and addresses all phases of emergency management, as well as all stakeholders (including the NGO and private sectors).  It does not, however, replace ICS” (Haddow, 2017, p. 248).

The National Incident Management System provides a template by which the ICS can operate more efficiently.  It is an upper management organizational system that oversees the entire operation of a disaster event (Haddow, 2008).

The Incident Command System falls under the command and management component of the National Incident Management System.  ICS addresses all hazards, regardless of cause, at the federal, state, tribal, and local levels.  NGOs and the private sector are also included (DHS, 2008).

The ICS standardizes the use of common terminology for all agencies involved; inventories and describes resources used; and records incident fatalities (DHS, 2008).

A flexible organizational system adapts the ICS to the needs of a particular event.  A small, community-based incident will require less manpower and fewer resources than an event on the scale of Hurricane Katrina (DHS, 2008).

ICS develops a set of objectives by which an event can be measured, studied, and evaluated.  This is important for quality improvement.  The Incident Commander or Unified Commander creates an Incident Action Plan which “should guide all response activities” (DHS, 2008, p. 47).  There should be enough staff and supervisors involved to make the work flow go as planned (DHS, 2008).

The Incident Commander determines and oversees the locations of command facilities.  Resources must be carefully managed to control costs and availability.  Communication systems must be set up and maintained to provide optimal information sharing and communication (DHS, 2008).

How NIMS and ICS were Utilized in the Events of 9/11

The events of 9/11 resulted in a large number of fatalities among first responders.  It became necessary to re-evaluate and re-write appropriate procedures and protocols.  At that time, there were no procedures in place to deal with terrorist attacks.  The Department of Homeland Security was created, which absorbed FEMA into its structure.  The National Incident Management System gradually developed and was finally published in 2008 (Hadddow, 2017).

As soon as the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City was attacked on 9/11, New York City emergency dispatchers sent police, paramedics, and firefighters to the site.  Battalion  Chief Joseph Pfeifer of the New York City Fire Department dispatched additional fire personnel and equipment.  The Port Authority Police Department, which was responsible for the security of the World Trade Center, went into action to help with evacuation and rescue (911 Memorial, 2018).

President Bush was notified at 8:50 a.m.  At 8:55 a.m., the South Tower was declared secure, and no evacuation attempts were made. Four minutes later, it was decided to evacuate both towers.  And, at 9:00 a.m., all civilians were ordered to evacuate the World Trade Center complex.  At 9:02 a.m., evacuation efforts were underway, when the South Tower was attacked at 9:03 a.m.  President Bush was further informed at 9:05 a.m., and Mayor Rudy Giuliani arrived at the New York City Police Department Command Post (911 Memorial, 2018).

At 9:30 a.m., the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management evacuated its office at the World Trade Center.  Vice-President Dick Cheney was evacuated from the White House (911 Memorial, 2018).

The Pentagon attack occurred at 9:37 a.m.  Emergency personnel immediately responded.  At 9:45 a.m., the White House and the U.S. Capitol Building were evacuated (911 Memorial, 2018).

The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed at 9:59 a.m.  At 10:15 a.m., the Pentagon E-ring collapsed.  The North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed at 10:28 a.m., and the evacuation of lower Manhattan began at 11:02 a.m.  At 5:20 p.m., the entire World Trade Center collapsed.  All efforts after that were dedicated to putting out the fires, securing the crime site, finding and rescuing survivors, recovering the dead, identifying victims, and removing and cleaning up debris and body parts (Haddow, 2017; 911 Memorial, 2018).

In 2002, two after-action reports were released: Improving NYPD Emergency Preparedness and Response and Arlington County After-Action Report on the Response to the 9/11 Terrorist Attack on the Pentagon.  These reports helped to shape improvements in the emergency management discipline (Haddow, 2017).

The NYPD report identified twenty areas of improvement, with six warranting immediate action: “clearer delineation of roles and responsibilities of organizational leaders; better clarity in the chain of command; radio communications protocols and procedures that optimize information flow; more effective mobilization of response staff; more efficient provisioning and distribution of emergency and donated equipment; a comprehensive disaster response plan with a significant counterterrorism component” (Haddow, 2017).

It is easy to see here how the implementation of the National Incident Management System would have improved the response to the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks.  The Command and Management Component would have helped to define the authority of the Incident Commander and to clarify the chain of command.  The Communications and Information Management Component would have centralized communications and information sharing to present a clear picture of what was happening and what was needed.  The Resource Management Component would have coordinated the flow of personnel and equipment to the site to more efficiently deal with the disaster.  The Ongoing Management and Maintenance Component would have ensured that a comprehensive plan was in place to manage a major terrorist attack.  The Preparedness Component would have ensured that New York City was ready to bring all agencies together to work as an expert team in responding to a major disaster (DHS, 2008).

The response to the Pentagon attack was deemed a success due to its quick, coordinated, well-prepared response based on the Incident Command System.  Arlington County already had a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan in place.  The Arlington County Fire Department had already considered the possibility of a weapons of mass destruction scenario and was well-prepared to respond (Haddow, 2017).

Conclusion

It is unfortunate that disasters have to occur in order to improve emergency management as a discipline and emergency response as a necessity of life.  But complacency is not an option.  Preparation is the key to effective response and recovery when disasters do occur.  The Incident Command System, guided by the core components of the National Incident Management System, is an effective tool for coordinating and managing preparation, planning, mitigation, response, and recovery of major disasters on the local, tribal, state, and federal levels.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

September 18, 2019

Copyright 2019-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

References

911 Memorial. (2018 ). 9/11 Memorial Timeline. Retrieved from

       http://www.timeline.911memorial.org/#FrontPage

Department of Homeland Security. (2008). National incident management system.

       Retrieved from http://www.fema.gov/nims.

Haddow, G.D., Bullock, J.A., & Coppola, D.P. (2017). Introduction to emergency

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