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12 Recommendations to Strengthen Preparedness Against Terrorist Attacks

12 Recommendations to Strengthen Preparedness Against Terrorist Attacks

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  • As the terrorism “awareness flag” is raised higher in the United States and around the world, we must continue to ensure our state of readiness. As first responders we must continue to review, revise and practice our emergency response procedures and guidelines. It is critical for fire, emergency medical services (EMS), law enforcement, public health, hospitals and other emergency response organizations to share information and to participate in preparedness activities on a regular basis.

12 Recommendations

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  • Our way of life has changed to include constant vigilance.
  • All emergency responders and the public must be forever vigilant.
  • Don’t cower in a corner and deny ourselves of life’s wonders and opportunities.
  • Take more notice of what is going on around us.
  • Replace fear/despair with an improved state of awareness and readiness.

*

  • The 12 recommendations noted below are not necessarily in sequential order. Yet, they serve first responders by promoting planning, encouraging information sharing, stimulating thinking, and strengthening their state of readiness.

Recommendation No. 1

  • Conduct a community vulnerability assessment.
  • Determine which infrastructure may pose terrorist targets.
  • The local law enforcement department should be the lead organization in conducting this assessment.
  • If the law enforcement organizations should be part of the assessment team.
  • Consider the resourcefulness of the state police and the FBI, and FEMA.

*

Conduct a vulnerability assessment of the community. Determine which buildings, structures, means of public transportation, processes, storage facilities, etc., may pose terrorist targets. The local law enforcement department should be the lead organization in conducting this assessment. If the community has more than one law enforcement organization, then they should be part of the assessment team. Also consider the resourcefulness of the state police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Recommendation No. 1

  • Include the state of readiness of the local first responders in your vulnerability assessment.
  • Consider detection of nerve/blister chemical agents, dispersed radiological materials & other HAZMAT.
  • Consider protective equipment for use by first responders.
  • Consider training first responders receives to help prepare them for potential acts of terrorism.
  • These and other issues should be addressed as part of the vulnerability assessment.

*

  • Part of the vulnerability assessment also includes the state of readiness of the local emergency responders (first responders). What equipment do they have to detect the presence of nerve or blister chemical agents, dispersed radiological materials and other harmful substances? What protective equipment is available for use by first responders? What training have first responders received to help prepare them for potential acts of terrorism? This and other issues should be address as part of the vulnerability assessment.

Recommendation No. 2

  • Identify and recommend ways to reduce the community’s vulnerability.
  • It is important to share the findings of the vulnerability assessment.
  • Share it with emergency responders and with owners, managers & operators of potential “targets.”
  • Some ways to help reduce vulnerability are to:
  • Install more outside lighting
  • Adding surveillance cameras
  • Alerting security personnel
  • Encourage constant vigilance among employees

*

  • Identify and recommend ways to reduce the community’s vulnerability. It is important to share the findings of the vulnerability assessment with not only the appropriate emergency responders, but also the owners, managers and operators of these potential “targets.” Installing more outside lighting, adding surveillance cameras, alerting security personnel, and encouraging constant vigilance among employees are some ways to help reduce vulnerability and dissuade threats.

Recommendation No. 2

  • Not all communities have the same level of risk.
  • This does not mean that a community assessed w/minor risks should ignore the need to prepare.
  • First responders have the obligation to protect their citizens by being prepared.

*

  • Obviously not all communities have the same level of risk. However, this does not mean that a community that has a risk that is perceived to be less than other surrounding communities should ignore the need to prepare. First responders still have the obligation to protect their citizens by being prepared.

Recommendation No. 3

  • Provide awareness training to members of the Emergency Communications Center (ECC).
  • The ECC is the critical link.
  • ECC notifies of an emergency and dispatches resources to manage emergency incidents.
  • Awareness and follow on training should include “must know” information about:
  • Chemical agents.
  • Biological agents.
  • Radiological materials.
  • Explosives.
  • Have a set of questions to ask “911” callers that may elicit info that the incident may be terrorist-related.

*

  • Provide awareness training to members of the Emergency Communications Center (ECC).
  • The ECC is the critical link.
  • ECC notifies of an emergency and dispatches resources to manage emergency incidents.
  • Awareness and follow on training should include “must know” information about:
  • Chemical agents.
  • Biological agents.
  • Radiological materials.
  • Explosives.
  • Have a set of questions to ask “911” callers that may elicit info that the incident may be terrorist-related.

Recommendation No. 4

  • Provide awareness training to first responders and other emergency responders.
  • Awareness training is the opportunity for first responders to quickly gain must know information.
  • The information is related to WMD, their consequences and protective measures.
  • WMD knowledge will reduce fear, boost confidence, & build response capabilities w/first responders.
  • This knowledge can help identify:
  • Protective measures.
  • Methods of decontamination.
  • Means of detection.
  • Development of standard operating procedures, guidelines, or both.

*

  • I believe that we have been remiss for not providing more information to the public. The more we educate the public, the more likely they will react in a more responsible way in the face of a terrorist attack. They will be better prepared to not only protect themselves, but also their neighbors. It’s long overdue for all of us to start giving the public a dose of preparedness rather than a dose of fear.

Recommendation No. 5

  • Educate the public!
  • The media outlets are daily sources of information about the threat of terror.
  • The media reports news as they witness first hand.
  • The media receive information from local, state and federal governments, and the “sea” of experts.
  • The news may send a message of fear, destruction, and uncertainty about the growing threat.
  • The most likely victims will be the public.
  • The public are the least informed about what to do to prepare to protect themselves.

*

  • The town meeting is an excellent way to educate the public. It allows members of the local government to share information about what they are doing to prepare for the potential terrorist attack. It also allows members of the community to ask questions about what they should do to be better prepared for disaster.

Recommendation No. 6

  • Train to a level that demonstrates commitment, proficiency and confidence.
  • First responders must build upon their awareness training.
  • First Responders should seek more information to strengthen their WMD knowledge base.
  • This means attending training courses, seminars and conferences and also self-study.

*

  • Train to a level that demonstrates commitment, proficiency and confidence. First responders must build upon their awareness training by seeking more information to strengthen their WMD knowledge base. This means attending training courses, seminars and conferences and also self-study.

Recommendation No. 7

  • Network with other first responders.
  • Information sharing is so important, yet, it is slow to occur among fire responders.
  • There are still gaps and shortfalls in the information transfer process.
  • Many WMD-related reports are prepared and available to first responders.
  • How many first responders know that they exist?
  • The government needs to do a better job of making first responders aware of these useful documents.

*

  • In addition to these publications, first responders must learn about what other first responders are doing not only in the region, but also across the United States. Conferences and seminars are good venues for meeting other emergency responders and promoting networking. The sharing of email addresses among attendees is an important step in the information transfer process. Just think how much further ahead we would be if we really took advantage of the “information highway?”
  • The Internet and email list serves are good vehicles to obtain and share information. Using secured access helps to encourage information transfer. Of course, the more means available to share information the easier transfer will occur.

Recommendation No. 8

  • Develop and maintain a strong partnership among local, state and federal emergency responders.
  • Get the right people represented on the right committees and in the right planning processes.
  • The partnership will build respect, trust, and commitment.
  • It will result in a better state of preparedness.

*

  • Develop and maintain a strong partnership among local, state and federal emergency responders. Be sure to get the right people represented on the right committees and in the right planning processes. The partnership will build respect, trust, and commitment. And, it will result in a better state of preparedness.

Recommendation No. 9

  • Participate in realistic exercises.
  • Tabletop and functional exercises serve to validate community planning and state of readiness.
  • Realistic exercises provide realistic outcomes.
  • Consider type and magnitude of a disaster as it will dictate the boundaries of its destruction and harm.
  • Responders must be ready to keep disasters from
  • Claiming more casualties.
  • Causing more destruction.

*

  • Participate in realistic exercises. Tabletop and functional exercises serve to validate community planning and state of readiness. Exercises that are based on realism should provide realistic outcomes. Unfortunately, the type and magnitude of a disaster usually dictates the boundaries of its destruction and harm. We as first responders must be ready to keep that disaster from claiming more casualties and causing more destruction.

Recommendation No. 9

  • Media should not be quick to criticize the actions of first responders.
  • First responders meet the consequences of disasters head on.
  • No perfect solution when it comes to disaster management.
  • First responders must do their best with the resources available.
  • First responders work to have the most positive impact on managing the disaster consequence.
  • Exercises are to reflect this level of commitment and participation.
  • Don’t establish exercise goals which quickly dooms the efforts of first responders.

*

  • Another important point: Invite first responders from neighboring jurisdictions to either passively or actively participate in the exercises. The second best thing to participating in an exercise is observing it (passive participation). Allowing first responders to observe expands the “learning circle.”

Recommendation No. 10

  • Seek ways to enhance the usefulness of conventional fire-rescue equipment.
  • Be creative and innovative.
  • Become problem solvers.
  • Adapt with existing equipment to facilitate training and reduce demands for funds slated for other use.
  • Coordinate w/other agencies to enhance resource shortages and requirements.
  • Share lessons learned with each other.
  • Review how first responders in other organizations are addressing the same or similar problems.

*

  • Seek ways to enhance the usefulness of conventional fire-rescue equipment to meet the potential challenges of terrorist attacks. First responders are very creative and innovative people. Give them a problem and they often can discover ways to solve it. Adapting existing equipment will facilitate training and reduce demands for funds slated for other use. If you have limited budget coordinate with another agencies so both of you can get the most equipment with combined resources. Again, learn from each other. Determine how first responders in other organizations are addressing the same or similar problems.

Recommendation No. 11

  • Be proactive and participate in independent study for self-development.
  • Spend at least five hours weekly enhancing their domestic preparedness fund of knowledge.
  • This will help improve understanding and build self-confidence.
  • Reviewing references, books, notes, & viewing of DVDs/videos are ways to bolster one’s knowledge.
  • No greater defense against terrorists than to know the enemy & their potential arsenal of weapons.
  • Fear tends to dwell where knowledge does not exist.

*

  • Spend at least five hours per week in independent study. First responders are encouraged to spend at least five hours each week enhancing their domestic preparedness fund of knowledge. This time will help improve understanding and build self-confidence. Reading a book, reviewing conference notes, and viewing videotapes are excellent ways to bolster one’s knowledge. There is no greater single defense against terrorism than knowledge of the enemy and their potential arsenal of weapons. Fear tends to dwell where knowledge does not exist.

Recommendation No. 12

  • Practice vigilance on a daily basis.
  • The era of terrorism is upon us.
  • Remain vigilant.
  • Don’t take unusual circumstances and condition for granted.
  • Maintain ongoing communications with the law enforcement community.
  • A prepared and vigilant community serves to help fortify its state of readiness.

*

  • Practice vigilance on a daily basis. The era of terrorism is upon us. We must remain vigilant. Don’t take unusual circumstances and condition for granted. Maintain ongoing communications with the law enforcement community. A prepared and vigilant community serves to help fortify its state of readiness.

12 Recommendations to Strengthen Preparedness Against Terrorist Attacks

*

    • I suggest that first responders consider using these 12 recommendations as the basis of a training session or meeting. Determining ways to promote and use these Recommendations should better prepare first responders for what may lie ahead. To be ready requires much more than words. It also requires action.

 

*

  • As the terrorism “awareness flag” is raised higher in the United States and around the world, we must continue to ensure our state of readiness. As first responders we must continue to review, revise and practice our emergency response procedures and guidelines. It is critical for fire, emergency medical services (EMS), law enforcement, public health, hospitals and other emergency response organizations to share information and to participate in preparedness activities on a regular basis.

*

  • The 12 recommendations noted below are not necessarily in sequential order. Yet, they serve first responders by promoting planning, encouraging information sharing, stimulating thinking, and strengthening their state of readiness.

*

Conduct a vulnerability assessment of the community. Determine which buildings, structures, means of public transportation, processes, storage facilities, etc., may pose terrorist targets. The local law enforcement department should be the lead organization in conducting this assessment. If the community has more than one law enforcement organization, then they should be part of the assessment team. Also consider the resourcefulness of the state police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

*

  • Part of the vulnerability assessment also includes the state of readiness of the local emergency responders (first responders). What equipment do they have to detect the presence of nerve or blister chemical agents, dispersed radiological materials and other harmful substances? What protective equipment is available for use by first responders? What training have first responders received to help prepare them for potential acts of terrorism? This and other issues should be address as part of the vulnerability assessment.

*

  • Identify and recommend ways to reduce the community’s vulnerability. It is important to share the findings of the vulnerability assessment with not only the appropriate emergency responders, but also the owners, managers and operators of these potential “targets.” Installing more outside lighting, adding surveillance cameras, alerting security personnel, and encouraging constant vigilance among employees are some ways to help reduce vulnerability and dissuade threats.

*

  • Obviously not all communities have the same level of risk. However, this does not mean that a community that has a risk that is perceived to be less than other surrounding communities should ignore the need to prepare. First responders still have the obligation to protect their citizens by being prepared.

*

  • Provide awareness training to members of the Emergency Communications Center (ECC).
  • The ECC is the critical link.
  • ECC notifies of an emergency and dispatches resources to manage emergency incidents.
  • Awareness and follow on training should include “must know” information about:
  • Chemical agents.
  • Biological agents.
  • Radiological materials.
  • Explosives.
  • Have a set of questions to ask “911” callers that may elicit info that the incident may be terrorist-related.

*

  • I believe that we have been remiss for not providing more information to the public. The more we educate the public, the more likely they will react in a more responsible way in the face of a terrorist attack. They will be better prepared to not only protect themselves, but also their neighbors. It’s long overdue for all of us to start giving the public a dose of preparedness rather than a dose of fear.

*

  • The town meeting is an excellent way to educate the public. It allows members of the local government to share information about what they are doing to prepare for the potential terrorist attack. It also allows members of the community to ask questions about what they should do to be better prepared for disaster.

*

  • Train to a level that demonstrates commitment, proficiency and confidence. First responders must build upon their awareness training by seeking more information to strengthen their WMD knowledge base. This means attending training courses, seminars and conferences and also self-study.

*

  • In addition to these publications, first responders must learn about what other first responders are doing not only in the region, but also across the United States. Conferences and seminars are good venues for meeting other emergency responders and promoting networking. The sharing of email addresses among attendees is an important step in the information transfer process. Just think how much further ahead we would be if we really took advantage of the “information highway?”
  • The Internet and email list serves are good vehicles to obtain and share information. Using secured access helps to encourage information transfer. Of course, the more means available to share information the easier transfer will occur.

*

  • Develop and maintain a strong partnership among local, state and federal emergency responders. Be sure to get the right people represented on the right committees and in the right planning processes. The partnership will build respect, trust, and commitment. And, it will result in a better state of preparedness.

*

  • Participate in realistic exercises. Tabletop and functional exercises serve to validate community planning and state of readiness. Exercises that are based on realism should provide realistic outcomes. Unfortunately, the type and magnitude of a disaster usually dictates the boundaries of its destruction and harm. We as first responders must be ready to keep that disaster from claiming more casualties and causing more destruction.

*

  • Another important point: Invite first responders from neighboring jurisdictions to either passively or actively participate in the exercises. The second best thing to participating in an exercise is observing it (passive participation). Allowing first responders to observe expands the “learning circle.”

*

  • Seek ways to enhance the usefulness of conventional fire-rescue equipment to meet the potential challenges of terrorist attacks. First responders are very creative and innovative people. Give them a problem and they often can discover ways to solve it. Adapting existing equipment will facilitate training and reduce demands for funds slated for other use. If you have limited budget coordinate with another agencies so both of you can get the most equipment with combined resources. Again, learn from each other. Determine how first responders in other organizations are addressing the same or similar problems.

*

  • Spend at least five hours per week in independent study. First responders are encouraged to spend at least five hours each week enhancing their domestic preparedness fund of knowledge. This time will help improve understanding and build self-confidence. Reading a book, reviewing conference notes, and viewing videotapes are excellent ways to bolster one’s knowledge. There is no greater single defense against terrorism than knowledge of the enemy and their potential arsenal of weapons. Fear tends to dwell where knowledge does not exist.

*

  • Practice vigilance on a daily basis. The era of terrorism is upon us. We must remain vigilant. Don’t take unusual circumstances and condition for granted. Maintain ongoing communications with the law enforcement community. A prepared and vigilant community serves to help fortify its state of readiness.

*

  • I suggest that first responders consider using these 12 recommendations as the basis of a training session or meeting. Determining ways to promote and use these Recommendations should better prepare first responders for what may lie ahead. To be ready requires much more than words. It also requires action.