Terrorism is one of the disasters feared all over the world. America particularly is most prone to a terrorist attack than any other nation. The government has tried to come up with several measures to ensure they are ready and prepared to counter any terrorist attack that may occur, especially after the unexpected 2001 September 11th attack. However, eight years later, America is still not fully prepared incase of another attack. This term paper addresses the issue of the preparedness of America in dealing with or preventing terrorist attacks.
Is America prepared for another terrorist attack? Introduction The threat of terrorist events involving weapons of mass destruction is real. The September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon changed the United States forever, ushering in a host of new and unprecedented realities for the American people, for the intelligence and national security communities, for medical personnel, for private security entities, and perhaps especially for the police, fire, and emergency medical personnel.
In particular, police, fire and emergency medical service personnel, the agencies and individuals most likely to be the first responders to possible terrorist attacks, faced compelling demands to adopt new strategies and tactics, to undertake new training, and to view their roles and their work in an entirely different way. This term paper aims at finding out whether the American government has prepared enough to counter another terrorist attack without experiencing the problems encountered in 2001. The police, fire and emergency medical personnel
As first responders, police, fire, and emergency medical service personnel are our first line of defense in case of a terrorist attack, but the enormity and complexity of the challenges that they face makes it abundantly clear that they alone cannot bear the responsibility for ensuring our safety. Although first responders play an absolute critical role in homeland security and domestic preparedness, and although a great deal of attention and resources have already been focused on them to counter the terrorist threat, much more needs to be done.
Perhaps most important, realistic potential that American people, towns, and cities may again come under attack from terrorist demands that significant system changes occur throughout the range of public agencies and private entities charged with the responsibility of ensuring public safety. For the American government to be fully prepared, it must develop and implement a broader, more coordinated, more cohesive, and more focused approach to terrorism and to weapons of mass destruction and that approach must involve new relationships between and among all of these public agencies and private entities.
(Roberts, 2005) The police and the emergency workers who might be called on to respond initially to a nuclear, biological, or chemical event are not adequately trained to deal effectively with those events. This is not to say that most police and emergency workers lack any training in this area. It means that they lack the highly specific training and special expertise required to recognize and deal with many of the complex and unique threats posed by such events. At present, many also lack the special tools, gear, and protective equipment these events may require.
Patrol officers, firefighters, and emergency medical service personnel who initially respond to an event involving weapons of mass destruction should not be expected to undertake the specific duties and responsibilities that are better performed by well-equipped and more highly trained specialists. (Lustick, 2006) Since they lack the necessary equipments to deal with the crisis, their primary role should be to recognize the threat, to minimize additional exposure to chemical or biological agents, to ensure safety of victims, to safeguard the scene, and to report their findings to those more competent to deal with these issues.
Another primary responsibility is to minimize their own contact with the chemical of biological agent and to provide as much information as possible to ensure the safety and the effectiveness of other responding units. First responders who rush in to a weapons of mass destruction event not only risk death or serious injuries from secondary devices that may have been placed at or near the scene precisely to disable or kill rescuers, but they may also become a significant liability to other victims as well as to other responders if they become contaminated or injured themselves.
Such first responders who rush in and become victims may exacerbate the overall problem, consuming precious time and resources. (Mandaville, 2009) Developing capacity to prevent terrorist attacks Surveillance, physical barriers, and advanced technology have played a prominent role in the security improvement efforts explored by most communities since the September 11th terrorist attack. For example, security cameras are keeping watch over banks, embassies, schools, and a variety of other buildings as well as traffic intersections, shopping centers, parks and many other public gathering spaces.
The striking image of London subway bombers captured by the cities extensive video surveillance system and a raising sense that similar attacks could happen in the United States are renewing interest in expanding police camera of public places. The London bombings showcased the capabilities of digital video surveillance system when ,after July 7 and July 21, 2005, attacks, authorities quickly produced relatively high resolution images of the suspected bombers that benefited fast moving investigators.
However, critics said that the London attacks also highlighted the limitations of camera surveillance: they did not prevent terrorist bombings in the heart of the city. (Forest, 2006) Still, even with suicide bombers, camera surveillance can help with the hunt for the terrorist cells that provide them with crucial logistical support. Emerging technologies offer even greater promise. In 2006, Chicago installed gunshot detection equipment on cameras to automatically alert authorities and point the camera in the direction of the sound.
Also, New Jersey Transit has a pilot project in one station that uses computer analysis of video to alert authorities of suspicious behavior, such as someone leaving a package behind. Authorities are also experimenting with facial recognition software, though existing versions are of limited use in scanning crowds for suspected terrorists. In San Francisco, the mayors have been noted advocates for expanding the city’s surveillance camera program. (Alexandrov, 1996)
Another example of preparedness for a terrorist attack is by the Long Beach Airport in southern Los Angeles County, which has developed a plan to implement a sophisticated wireless video surveillance platform. The airport, an alternative to Los Angeles International Airport hosts major Airlines such as Alaska Airlines, America West Airlines and Jet Blue Airways. The new wireless surveillance system’s purpose is to enable three separate Long Beach Airport security operation centers to simultaneously monitor distant sites, including secured airport areas, public parking lots, and road way tunnels.
This system provides a single wireless solution for viewing, storing and managing real-time video from more than 100 cameras, becoming one of the very first wireless surveillance systems to be installed at any airport in the United States. With this integrity, security platform personnel at three locations in Long Beach (the Command and Control Centre, the Security Operations Centre, and the Security Safety Office) will be able to monitor information while viewing live video feeds at the same time from the same computer. (Fawdah etal, 2003)
Video surveillance has also become a prominent feature of the nation’s passenger railways. For example, the Washington D. C. , Metro system has partnered with the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, and the Department of Justice to develop the Program for Response Options and Technology Enhancements for Chemical or Biological Terrorism (PROTECT). PROTECT combines a closed-circuit television (CCTV) system, an operations control centre, and advanced sectors to alert authorities if a terrorist releases a chemical or a biological agent on a subway platform or in a train.
Preparing Americans Psychologists are beginning to have a stronger appreciation of the fact that humans are extremely resilient, even in times of crisis. Accordingly, the American government should also try to nurture the quality of resilience in its citizens. More recent work has considered how this concept has relevance, not just for adults, but also for communities, particularly in the wake of a disaster; it is argued that community resilience can be nurtured through readiness, response and recovery phases of a disaster.
So, for instance, by minimizing the subject fear of terrorism, the American government can empower its citizens to exert a greater level of confidence in their respective communities’ abilities to anticipate and respond to security threats. Ultimately, in doing so, one of the most potent weapons that terrorists possess -fear- may be squashed. (Rowitz 2005) Its also critical not to install fear in individuals when preparing for disaster, since such individuals generally ignore such messages; additionally, fear arousing information is particularly helpful when followed by practical suggestions as how to address given concerns.
Some have argued that the Department of Homeland Security, along with its affiliated Web site(www. ready. gov) has failed to appropriately address individuals’ fears and the ways to nurture resilience by making extreme and often erroneous suggestions (e. g. , encouraging individuals to have a supply of antibiotics on hand) while not addressing events that have a greater likelihood of promoting panic (e. g. , how to get trampled in a crowd should a “dirty bomb” attack occur). (Ursano, etal 2003) Analysis
There is no further need to speculate as to how the American government would likely respond to a terrorist attack, such as the 2001 terrorist attack. It is evident that significant work remains in order to secure the American Homeland incase of an attack or when disaster strikes. The occurrence of Hurricane Katrina was a good indicator of America’s preparedness. By the end of four days or so after Katrina struck, National Guardsmen and supplies started to pour into the city. Most, but not all, residents had been evacuated out of New Orleans and left with very uncertain futures.
The rescuers were met unprepared, which led to delays in rescuing the victims. Katrina dramatically revealed the incredible degree to which we are still unable to respond and proactively anticipate disasters. However, that there have been, are, and will likely always be large gaps in protecting the American homeland should not be surprising. In a country as geographically vast as the United states, American needs to appreciate that –regardless of whether politicians may promise-every square inch of this country can not be guarded or protected at all times.
Whether in a mall, on a train, at a school or in the work place, most of us are probably well aware that if someone is intent on carrying out a physical harm to others, there is a good probability that such an event will occur. Sadly, there are many instances of deadly violence that have occurred at all of the above locations and others, such as the shooting, rampage that took place in 1993 on the Long Island Railroad or the 1999 Columbine High School Massacre. There is also a difference between acts executed by one by one or two troubled individuals versus those committed by an organized group of individuals such as al Qaeda members.
While we can fully eradicate the risk of single terrorists, we can certainly do more to minimize the risk posed by terrorists groups, although this risk too can never be completely eliminated. Conclusion The new realities of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction demand a new set of policies, practices and relationships among and between a host of entities and institutions charged with the responsibility to ensure public safety. The government still has a lot of work to do in readiness of effective response should another terrorist attack occur.
As learnt from the experiences and lessons of the September 11th attacks on the world Trade Centre and the Pentagon, police, fire, and emergency medical services face unprecedented challenges in the future, and similar challenges confront virtually every institution in the United States. As seen in this paper, there are a lot of issues, problems and threats posed by the specter of terrorism and terrorists’ use of weapons of mass destruction. This calls for the need for highly coordinated response and recovery planning that integrates resources, skills, personnel, and capabilities of a range of public sector organizations.
No plan can pretend to be perfect, there are simply too many unforeseen issues and exigencies that arise in specific events, and the planning must therefore be crafted for flexibility and adaptability. This involves nothing less than a new midst that accepts, accounts for, and takes up the challenges posed by the realities of our world. Recent studies reveal the extent and the dimension of the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, their availability to terrorists and extremist groups, and the massive casualties that can inflict on public safety personnel and members of the public.
These threats are not likely to subside, and in fact may increase. (Ackerman 2007). There is a pressing need for more and better training for the first responders to such events so that they can recognize events involving weapons of mass destructions and so that they can operate safely to minimize deaths, injuries, and damage. Similarly, there’s need for more and better equipment to help rescuers achieve their goals. This calls for a new mindset among emergency workers, and a mindset for of safety and preparedness that infiltrates all their duties and activities.
In addition to anticipating and preventing terrorism, Americans need to have a better understanding of the root causes of terrorism. We should not excuse or condone the actions of terrorists. It is also naive logic to presume that terrorists are simply evil individuals and that killing such people will end the security concerns. Individuals such as al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi absolutely need to be captured or killed. References 1) Forest James J. F. (2006). Homeland Security: Public spaces and social institutions.
Greenwood Publishing Group 2) Roberts Albert R. 3rd edition. (2005). Crisis intervention handbook: assessment, treatment, and research. Oxford University Press US; pg 189-198 3) Rowitz Louis (2005). Public health for the 21st century: the prepared leader. Jones & Bartlett Publishers; pg 80-90 4) Lustick Ian (2006). Trapped in the war on terror. University of Pennsylvania Press; pg 8 5) Ackerman Bruce A. (2007). Before the Next Attack: Preserving Civil Liberties in an Age of Terrorism. Yale University Press; pg 114-116 6) Mandaville Michael(2009).
Citizen-Soldier Handbook: 101 Ways Every American Can Fight Terrorism. Dog Ear Publishing, 2009; pg 89-95 7) Fawdah Yusri, Fielding Nick. (2003) Masterminds of terror: the truth behind the most devastating terrorist attack the world has ever seen. Arcade Publishing; pg 201 8) Alexandrov Stanimir A. (1996). Self-defense against the use of force in international law; Martinus Nijhoff Publishers; pg 181-183 9) Ursano Robert J. , Fullerton Carol S. , Norwood Ann E. (2003). Terrorism and disaster: individual and community mental health interventions. Cambridge University Press; pg 287
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