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Terrorism Response Strategy Essay

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Updated: Mar 12th, 2022

Introduction

Disasters are a constant reality in human life and while some can be avoided, some are inevitable. How we go about managing a disaster situation greatly determines how well we recover from the situation. When dealing with disasters of a natural or manmade kind, the various personnel involved have to effectively communicate and coordinate their operations to contain the situation. One of the kinds of disasters that have increasingly plagued man over the last few decades is terrorist attacks. Terror attacks can be defined as forms of manmade disasters that are aimed at destroying property and/or human life. Due to the uniqueness of each terror attack coupled with the heightened levels of psychological pressure, anxiety, and strain on resources, the normal forms of organization may prove inadequate in handling the situation. An ad hoc strategy that the responders to an attack come up with maybe the most efficient method of coordinating and effectively dealing with the terror threat. In this paper, I shall outline a strategy that will be employed in dealing with a bomb that has exploded at City Hall. A description of the lifesaving efforts and protection considerations that shall be employed shall be made bearing in mind that there are speculations that this bomb attack contained biological or chemical toxins.

Preliminary Evaluation of the Scene

The emergency responder is the first line of defense in the event of a terror bombing (Burke, 2007). It will therefore be the responsibility of my team to ensure that the situation is contained most effectively. The first step to being undertaken by my team will be evaluating the scene. The preliminary assessment is performed on the basis that before implementing any rescue operations, the hazards that are contained in the area must be positively identified and the resources available or necessary to deal with the issue decided on (Levy, 2006). The information that is obtained from this assessment shall become the framework of how emergency personnel will go about their operations.

In the preliminary stage, the situation will be assessed to determine if the incident poses a credible chemical or biological threat. To investigate the contaminations, the team will be forced to enter the suspected hot zone and take samples which will subsequently be tested for known contaminants on-site (National Response Team, 2005). This is necessary since this particular attack is alleged to be of a chemical/biological nature. However, the preliminary assessment sampling will require more extensive sampling in a laboratory setting to determine is additional isolation and decontamination are required. Ascertaining the exact nature of the chemical or biological attack will also be of importance. This is because statistics indicate that despite there being hundreds of biological agents that can be used by terrorists, there exist vaccines that can be used to inoculate against these harmful agents (Bymes, King & Tierno, 2003). Confirming the unique nature of the attack will assist in deciding on what protective measures to implement. Medical personnel will also benefit from this information since they will then be in a position to offer the necessary medical aid to the affected people.

In the preliminary assessment, I will involve other agencies such as the FBI and the CDC since my response team cannot handle a contaminated site on their own. In addition to this, a chemical/biological attack perpetrated anywhere in our country constitutes a Homeland security issue and federal officers must be involved in the matter (NRT, 2005). An estimation of the potential harm that has been done shall also be made to gauge the scope of the disaster. My team will try to determine the size of the endangered area as well as the quantity of material that has already been released into the environment.

Scene Safety Concerns

As the incident commander for the first responder team, I have to account for all personnel involved in the incident (Levy, 2006). I therefore must be in the know of where all personnel is at all times in the event of an emergency. To assist me in this task, I will use an accountability system that will contain various personnel assignments. However, for this system to succeed, all personnel have to comply with the stipulated requirements and stick to their respective assignments.

The safety of all responders will be of central consideration. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a governmental body charged with response workers’ safety issues, ensures that these workers are properly protected and that all response activity complies with stipulated safety and health standards (NRT, 2005). Some of the demands made by OSHA are that adequate training, controls and personal protective equipment be used to ensure responder safety. Maniscalco (2010) insists that proper respiratory protection for emergency responders in hostile atmospheres is critical. In light of the possible risk of exposure to biological or chemical toxins by my team, measures shall have to be taken to ensure their protection. A particularly important device that my team members shall have is a “self-contained breathing apparatus” which is an airtight device that has an internal air supply providing clean air in hostile atmospheres (Maniscalco, 2010). Having protected themselves, the rescue team can go to the hot zone and begin their rescue efforts without fear of infection.

In most incidents, rescue personnel overlooks the risk that they face in the form of secondary explosive devices. Burke (2007) asserts that emergency response personnel are a target to terrorists who set up secondary bombing devices whose sole aim is to cripple rescue operations. With this in mind, I shall have the area combed by security personnel for bombs before any rescue operations begin to ensure the safety of the rescue personnel. However, this task will need to be undertaken in a timely fashion since every minute spent looking for the secondary devices is time that could have been used administering aid to the victims of the primary attack. Once it has been certified that there is no risk of a secondary attack, my team will access the area.

Rescue Operations

Most of the first responders’ operations are limited to defensive actions that are aimed at protecting life, the environment, and property (Levy, 2006). The kind of actions that my team shall undertake will hugely depend on the situation at the site. If the situation allows it, an offensive approach that will be aimed at stopping the propagation of the contaminant will be most desirable. As such, my team will concentrate on actions such as fighting the fire which may result in the contaminant spreading through the air. If the situation is deemed unsafe; that is if the incident poses significant risk and there is little chance of any survivors in the zone, my team will isolate the area and deny entry. This action will ensure that access to the damaged area is greatly restricted therefore preventing any further damages from being inflicted against the general population. This is because most disaster scenes attract crowds of people who either attempt to provide some humanitarian aid to those afflicted by the attack or are just drawn in out of sheer curiosity. While in some kinds of disasters the benevolent acts by the crowd such as searching for the wounded and getting them out of the disaster zone would be appreciated, any involvement by the crowd in this scenario is highly undesirable owing to the alleged biological/chemical nature of this explosion.

Communication will be key to rescue operations since it is only by effective communication that the human resources can be properly channeled during the incident (Levy, 2006). Plans will therefore be developed to ensure that all personnel is accessible at all times. Personnel will also be notified on whom to contact when in need of information or to report some urgent matter. The reliability of communication channels such as radios will be checked and backup plans made in case of equipment failure.

The victims of the bomb attack will consist of those who are injured and possibly infected by the biological agents. If the assessments will have shown that my team can safely rescue the patients, the team will proceed to the area and rescue all casualties. However, if rescue operations cannot be carried out by my team, they will wait for specially trained and equipped teams to come and carry out rescue operations. Once rescued, patients who are suspected of being contaminated will be separated from the rest and shall be subjected to preliminary decontamination procedures. These are procedures that are aimed at minimizing the internal contamination of the patients (Bymes, King & Tiemo, 2003). Once the patients have been decontaminated, they will be allowed to rejoin the general population. The responder team will have to ensure that they have their protective gear on in the cause of the entire operation as a breach in this may have disastrous results.

Establishing Security and Control

The first security-conscious action to be undertaken will be the creation of a perimeter around the bomb site and the subsequent cordoning off of the area. One of my officers will be designated as the on-scene commander and it will be his/her duty to establish a security perimeter around the incident. This will effectively isolate the threat area thus limiting further contamination. In addition to this, restricting access to the general public ensures that the rescue personnel has unrestricted access therefore leading to more efficient rescue efforts. An additional merit of this effort is that the crime scene (bombed are) shall also be protected therefore ensuring the preservation of evidence that can later be used to prosecute suspects (Bymes, King & Tierno, 2003). This is especially necessary since the bomb attack is suspected to have been carried out by terrorists. Preserving the scene will ensure that investigators obtain evidence that that not been tampered with.

In a conventional bomb attack, securing the hit area would be sufficient containment of the threat. However, owing to the risk of biological and chemical agents in the bomb, further measures will have to be taken. Closing down of public transport means will also have to be done immediately to avoid the risk of infected people further spreading the contamination (Burke, 2007). The people in the immediate vicinity shall then be evacuated to protect them from the risk of contamination. Informing the public of the exact nature of the attack can assist greatly since awareness leads to prudence and taking of actions that prevent the spread of the contamination or contain it. As such, the local media shall be contacted and requested to broadcast to the public the nature of the attack. People shall be advised to restrict their movement and if possible stick to their homes to avoid further contamination. As much information as is necessary will be provided since little information at times leads to panic which is undesirable in such an event.

In the bomb attack, numerous agencies at local, state, and federal levels will be involved on the ground and this will create a problem due to the existence of parallel chains of command. As such, an incident management system that is designed to manage multi-agency emergencies may provide how the situation can be dealt with most effectively (Maniscalco & Christen, 2002). Since the bomb incident is complex owing to the possibility of chemical agents which will result in mass casualties and major rescue challenges, a single incident manager accountable for all response activities may prove to be ineffective.

To ensure that the attack is tackled efficiently, a unified management approach that leads to the establishment of common objectives by the various parties involved will be utilized. The major objectives of the first response team shall be to save lives and ensure the safety of all personnel. As such, there will be a safety officer who shall be responsible for ensuring the safety of the response team and that of other people on the site. He/she will also create a safety plan which shall be adopted to minimize the risk to the response workers.

Decontamination Efforts

Despite the safety precautions undertaken by the response team, my personnel may still be at risk of exposure to contaminants since the personal protection equipment used is not foolproof (NRT, 2005). As a result of these uncertainties, the responder team will be subjected to decontamination procedures, and where appropriate, vaccines against the biological/chemical agent or antibiotics will be taken to ensure that the individuals are safe if they were accidentally contaminated.

As a result of the chemical/biological agents in the bomb, the affected area and its environs will have been contaminated therefore rendering them unsafe. The response team will mark this area off as “hot” and “warm” indicating that they possess contaminants that may be detrimental to one’s health. Evacuation of these areas will be necessary to avoid the spread of the contamination. Decontamination will then be done to make the area safe for re-occupation.

Conclusion

Terrorist attacks have become prevalent over the last decade. In the case of such eventualities, the role that first responders can play is insurmountable. Having a strategy in place makes the responder’s actions even more effective. This paper set out to give a detailed strategy that I will employ as a first responder team leader in dealing with a bomb explosion at the City Hall. Unique considerations have been taken since the bomb attack is alleged of a chemical nature. As has been articulated throughout this paper, the safety of the responder law enforcement team and the general population is of vital importance and therefore measures should be taken to ensure it is not compromised to avoid an escalation in the number of casualties.

References

Burke, R. (2007). Counter-terrorism for Emergency Responders. USA: CRC Press.

Bymes, M., King, D., Tierno, P. (2003). Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Terrorism: Emergency Response and Public Protection. CRC Press.

Levy, J. M. (2006). The first responder’s field guide to hazmat & terrorism emergency response. Firebelle Productions.

Maniscalco, P, M. (2010). Homeland Security: Principles and Practice of Terrorism Response. USA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Maniscalco, P. M & Christen, T. H. (2002). Understanding Terrorism and Managing the Consequences. New York: Prentice Hall.

National Response Team. (2005). Technical Assistance for Anthrax Response. Web.

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