If we have learned nothing else in recent years, we know that protecting the United States requires a multi-faceted approach to prevention, innovation, and response. In December of 2003, the President issued Homeland Security Directive (HSPD)-8 to establish a federal policy that aims to strengthen our preparedness against many types of emergencies, including terrorist response. Unfortunately, the approach taken by many departments in emergency response is to use examples based upon prior experience, but prior experience leans heavily on natural disasters rather than the unique characteristics of terrorist incidents. R. James Woolsey (foreign policy specialist and former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency) and other experts have called this problem a "failure of imagination". Examples of this are myriad: for instance, although Foreign Terrorist Organizations commonly use vehicles as explosive devices (IRA using car bombs in Derry; Hezbollah using truck bombs in Beirut), no one took that reality to the next logical level to imagine that an FTO might use an airplane on a larger target. Today's threats can come from small organizations that emerge quickly and disappear just as quickly; it no longer takes an entire army to threaten the United States and her assets. Because of this, new ways of predicting and approaching terrorist threats must be found. Adopting a standard methodology which pulls together a common understanding and course of action across all departments involved in emergency response will help shape the future of emergency services as it pertains to terrorist response.
It is a well-established fact that the American public believes it is the responsibility of our military to be the ...
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...perators responding instinctively” has been the norm (and a matter of survival in some cases) is a difficult concept to embrace. However, if we can remember that the spirit of emergency response is supposed to be about teamwork and coordination under extreme circumstances to achieve a successful outcome, then perhaps individual personality differences or lack of understanding can be muted for the cause of the common good. Bringing all non-military emergency services agencies together towards a common understanding and course of action will serve as the framework of future emergency response. In turn, collaboration and unified leadership amongst emergency response units will strengthen the public’s trust in them, and should lead to an overall decrease in duplication, wasted resources, and perhaps most importantly – an increase in first responder and civilian safety.
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