By John A. Cote MSSI, CPP
Since that dreadful day in September 2001, many committees and organizations have tried to rate our performance as a country prepared for the next terrorist attack. The report cards given for our preparedness so far have been varied to say the least.
Many experts agree that it’s not a matter of if but when the next attack will take place. Will we be ready?
When thinking of terrorism, folks tend to predict what may happen in the future based on past events. Overall, thinking this way does not prepare us for new techniques our enemy may have devised for inflicting carnage on us. No one, prior to 9/11, was truly prepared for an attack on our country by commercial jetliners used as flying bombs.
NORAD was prepared for an attack on our country by bombers or jet fighters, however there did not seem to be protocols for engaging a civilian aircraft acting in a threatening manor.
If you recall, just after we were attacked by the four commercial jetliners the security industry went to great lengths to develop countermeasures to secure this gap in our national security.
The Transportation Security Administration was developed and began to implement new security measures in our nation’s airports. Private industry developed new cockpit doors which could withstand repeated attacks from guns and forced entry. Some pilots decided to carry guns on board as a last defense against a cockpit attack.
All these measures are very good steps in preventing another attack of the same nature, however, our enemy is very cunning and adaptable.
Even now, some six years after 9/11, many other modes of transportation besides air travel are very vulnerable.
In London, terrorists didn’t use airplanes they chose to attack the subway systems. In Spain, terrorists chose to attack trains. I recently rode the train from a major eastern city. My ticket was not checked until the train had reached the fourth stop. There was one person trying to check tickets but a cursory glance was all that was given as throngs of people marched toward the waiting train. Anyone could have boarded that train carrying anything they wanted.
So again I ask are we ready for the next attack? Let me put it another way, are you ready for the next attack? Each person needs to take responsibility and prepare themselves for what may come.
Now, I don’t mean we need to be afraid, but with the passage of time between major violent events, people become complacent and enveloped in a false sense of security that can cloud our thinking. It is up to each one of us to be prepared for what’s coming.
How do you prepare for such an event?
There are many Web sites out there with excellent emergency preparedness information – Ready.gov, The American Red Cross, and the National Terror Alert just to name a few. There’s a definite consensus:
1. Create an emergency communications plan
Choose an out-of-town contact your family or household will call or e-mail to check on each other should a disaster occur. Your selected contact should live far enough away that they would be unlikely to be directly affected by the same event, and they should know they are the chosen contact. Make sure every household member has that contact’s, and each other’s, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers (home, work, pager and cell). Leave these contact numbers at your children’s schools, if you have children, and at your workplace.
2. Establish a meeting place
Having a predetermined meeting place away from your home will save time and minimize confusion should your home be affected or the area evacuated. You may even want to make arrangements to stay with a family member or friend in case of an emergency. Be sure to include any pets in these plans, since pets are not permitted in shelters and some hotels will not accept them.
3. Assemble a disaster supplies kit
Prepare a disaster supplies kit in an easy-to-carry container such as a duffel bag or small plastic trash can. Include “special needs” items for any member of your household (infant formula or items for people with disabilities or older people), first aid supplies (including prescription medications), a change of clothing for each household member, a sleeping bag or bedroll for each, a battery powered radio or television and extra batteries, food, bottled water and tools. It is also a good idea to include some cash and copies of important family documents (birth certificates, passports and licenses) in your kit.
4. Check on the school emergency plan of any school-age children you may have
You need to know if they will they keep children at school until a parent or designated adult can pick them up or send them home on their own. Be sure that the school has updated information about how to reach parents and responsible caregivers to arrange for pickup. And, ask what type of authorization the school may require to release a child to someone you designate, if you are not able to pick up your child. During times of emergency the school telephones may be overwhelmed with calls. (source: American Red Cross)
For more on information on preparing for the unexpected, visit:
By John A. Cote MSSI, CPP