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U.S. Emergency Management

The main objective of the emergency management that any federal department runs in the United States is to insure that the country is well prepared to any kinds of disasters. Its main role might relate to the response efforts information preparations, helping communities and others. Thus, the tragic events that took place on the 9/11 have changed certain strategies and structure of the departments related to emergency management. Thereafter, the objective of the following paper is to discuss the differences in the practice of U.S. emergency management before and after the 9/11 attacks.

The mayor of New York City has created New York City Office of Emergency Management in 1996, which had regular training in relation to all kinds of possible threats such as catastrophe responses and terrorists attacks. It had multiple interagency training exercises, which took place every 8 to 12 weeks. It is important to mention that emergency response agencies were allocating more resources to trainings related to bioterrorism. The proof to that was a drill that took place in May 2001 and related to bubonic plague. Moreover, they perceived such scenarios as sarin gas attack or truck bombs as the major possible threats. The emergency response agencies put preparations for biological threat attacks as a matter of priority prior to 9/11 (“Context of '1996-September 11, 2001”, n.d.).

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The U.S. emergency management has always been trying their best as the attack on World Trade Center and Oklahoma City bombing have been a bitter experience for the country (Fagel). The tragic events of the 9/11 have come as a shock but not a surprise as Islamist threats have been coming for over a decade and the country seem to know about the warnings and the previous events were signals to that. The U.S. authorities perceived Usama Bin Ladin as a financier of terrorism until 1997, but after issuing a self-styled fatwa, it was obvious that the threat was more serious that thought. However, due to high level of precision, well planning and destructiveness, the attacks on World Trade Center and Pentagon have become the most viscous crimes committed by the terrorist.

Before 9/11 attacks, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was more concentrated on an anti-terrorism approach. It is obvious that the agency did not perceive Islamic terrorists as an ‘active force’ before 2001. Unfortunately, the findings show that none of the emergency management actions that the government implemented since 1998 to 2001 have been useful enough to delay the al Qaeda plot. The emergency response from firefighters, civilians, medical technicians and professionals during the attacks was on a high level of determination. In fact, the emergency response department did the best what they could in such a challenging and dramatic situation.

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However, the findings show that decision-making was not on a very high level in New York as there have been certain problems in control and demand of internal communications. The Fire Department of New York had not foreseen the magnitude of the incident, low communication, and certain units were self-dispatched (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, 2004).

Before the 2001, the “our communities were placed on heightened alerts” (Fagel). The agency placed much emphasis on the programs related to the continuity of government (COG), but they did nothing to improve and test the communication capacities. Unfortunately, the emergency management prior to 9/11 had a lack of trainings related to situational awareness, and many agencies did not know how they would address the developing crisis. It was also evident that communication was on a very low level as emergency response department did not invest much into technologies because Usama Bin Ladin was not seen as a terrorist who would dare to do such a cruel act. Thereafter, after 9/11, one of the top priorities of the emergency response departments in the United States was to improve the mentioned communication, which is why the use of fixed and mobile site technologies as well as voice radio systems usage have become a matter of a first priority to the respondents. Moreover, the federal government did significant organizational changes, and it allocated significant funds to invest in technical assistance and trainings in order to improve the emergency communications capabilities. Thus, emergency response agencies established Incident Command System and National Emergency Communications Plan so they could standardize protocols, plans, and procedures to improve control, communications and commands (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2011).

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The federal government has done many structural changes since 9/11. Almost every department of the government has established special emergency operation centers. Moreover, local communities prepare emergency leaders and managers on a regular basis. National Response Framework has been developed and implemented in order to run the emergency management in the United States (U. S. Department of Homeland Security, 2008).

In conclusion, this is important to mention that despite the failure in communications and other drawbacks of emergency management during 9/11, it was still on the best level it could have been. The emergency planning prior to 9/11 more concentrated on a possibility of bioterrorism, while after 9/11, it has significantly changed. It is clear that emergency management in the USA before the 9/11atacks was not much based on risks and vulnerabilities of New York, but it concentrated on programs for general revenue sharing. The emergency management did not adapt the developed standards to the private sector, which was a big mistake as it controlled 85 percent of all the infrastructure of the nation.