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The Oklahoma City Bombing on 19th April, 1995 Research Paper

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Updated: Nov 10th, 2021

The Oklahoma City bombing took place on 19th April, 1995 when Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building situated in downtown Oklahoma City was bombed by sympathizers of American militia movement, Timothy McVeigh, along with an assistant, Terry Nichols. Considered to be the most deadliest and substantial act of domestic terrorism in USA before the 9/11 attacks, the bombing was mainly aimed towards the government of USA. A truck bomb made of explosives, diesel fuel and fertilizers, that was parked in front of the federal building was used by the perpetrators and the bomb went off at 9:02 a.m. CST. (Wright, 2007).

Due to the Oklahoma City bombing, 168 lives were lost and more than 800 people were injured. It was estimated that due to the bombing incident the cost of damages reached a total of almost $652 million, out of which the estimated insured damages covers only about $300 million. More than 324 buildings had been damaged or destroyed by the blast within the 16 block radius along with the destruction and burning of almost 86 cars and shattering of glasses of more than 258 neighboring buildings (Linenthal, 2003).

Emergency Response

Immediate Service – The Oklahoma City bombing took place at 9:02 a.m. CST and the Emergency Medical Services Authority or EMSA were contacted within minutes of the bombing. Immediately, EMSA firefighters, ambulances and police officers reported to the site of the bombing. Even the civilians who were close to the bombing site and had heard the bomb explode responded to the scene to help the emergency workers and victims. Volunteer services immediately reached the site of the disaster and since the incident was a local one everybody took responsibility in doing whatever could be done to help at that moment. The Oklahoma National Guard also provided immediate services by sending 465 of their members to the bombing site within an hour of the incident. They, along with the representatives from the US Department of Civil Emergency Management, not only provided the rescue workers and victims with their assistance but also with security. The rescue workers used sensitive listening devices in order to detect the heart beats of the survivors trapped under debris from the fallen building.

Personnel – Within half an hour of the explosion, the State Emergency Operations Center or SEOC was formed and it consisted of different representatives from the departments of education, military, public safety, health and human services. Federal officials were also notified and they reached the scene within minutes of the disaster. The victims and survivors were sent to the nearby St. Anthony Hospital where they were treated. The hospital personnel organized an efficient and effective triage system (Linenthal, 2003).

Emergency Agencies – The SEOC was also assisted by other emergency agencies like the Air Force, the National Weather Service, Public Works Department, National Guard, Department of Public Safety and the Civil Air Patrol. The American Red Cross quickly responded with their supplies and personnel to the aid of the relatives of those killed or injured in the explosion. The Salvation Army also responded to the scene with food supplies and they even deployed 7 of their units for providing services to the victims and rescue workers. On 20th April the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA was activated and more than 12000 people took part in the rescue and relief operations.

Apply Systems Overview

  1. Microsystem – A microsystem represents the direct social setting involving the element. The coordinated working of the various federal agencies mentioned above further clarified the various roles of the different departments and agencies to be played during such consequence and crisis management.
  2. Mesosystem – Since a mesosystem links two microsystems together, the super mesosystem in the Oklahoma City bombing was the FEMA that was federally responsible for all the management actions taken at the explosion site. The primary mesosystem consisted of the combined forces of EMSA, SEOC and other agencies that responded to the explosion site within minutes of the bombing.
  3. Exosystem – An exosystem represents a setting where the elements do not dynamically participate but where significant decisions are taken that affect those who directly interact with that element. In the Oklahoma City bombing such a system was found in the neighborhood and community structures, like those of the television and radio which continuously broadcasted the events of the explosion urging people to help the victims.
  4. Macrosystem – Macrosystem represents the blueprints necessary for organizing and defining our social life and thus includes economy, culture and politics. After the Oklahoma City bombing, various legislations were passed by the government of USA that was specifically designed for the prevention of potential terrorist attacks in the future. According to them, protection of the federal buildings was increased which allowed the US government to foil more than sixty domestic terrorist attacks between 1995 and 2005 (Wright, 2007).

Category of disaster

The Oklahoma City bombing falls under a federal emergency. On 19th April, at 9:45 am CST, a state of emergency was declared in Oklahoma City by the governor. The major difference this declaration made was that due to it all the non-essential workers in the city were released from their individual duties due to safety reasons. Since the bombing was declared as a federal emergency, FEMA took charge of the situation and activated 11 of their Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces. These task forces consisted of 665 rescue workers all of who gave assistance in the different recovery and rescue operations. Since this was a federal emergency, according to Section 501(b) of the Stafford Act, FEMA was given primary federal responsibility to respond to such a domestic management incident. Also, a liaison was appointed by FEMA to FBI for coordinating public information, suite access and support requirements. At 4 pm CST, President Bill Clinton announced a federal emergency in the City and addressed the entire nation. He even demanded that all planes be grounded in Oklahoma City so that the bombers can be prevented from getting away by air. However this action was not taken. As a remembrance for all the victims of the bombing, the flags on all the federal buildings were flown during half-past for the next 30 days (Linenthal, 2003).

Post disaster period

After the Oklahoma City bombing, post disaster psychiatric disorder was seen among the survivors of the bombing incident. There were instances of mental health abnormalities among the survivors and the magnitude of post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD was found to be extreme in them. Almost all of the survivors experienced functional impairment, hyper-arousal symptoms, psychiatric co-morbidity and intrusive re-experience. Since the bombing shook the federal plaza in Oklahoma City, the effects of the explosion was felt by the entire neighborhood up to a 16 block radius. The catastrophe will forever remain etched in the hearts of the communities of the entire nation with the chilling and bloody images of children and adults being dragged out of the collapsed Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Due to the trauma of the horrible event experienced by the individuals and communities alike, people for a long time experienced emotional aftershocks. They experienced such strong emotionally disturbing reaction that it affected their capability of functioning at their workplaces and with their families. The economy suffered a huge setback due to the bombing since the entire incident cost around $652 million. Although the survivors did not receive any financial assistance from the state, the Murrah Fund was set up which received more than $300,000 in grants (Wright, 2007).

Personal opinion

Personally, I feel that the Oklahoma City bombing was one of the most terrible incidents that took place in the USA resulting in an emotional scar that will forever remain in the hearts of people all over the world. Even though the physical wounds of the survivors have healed long ago, the emotional wounds as a result of the bombing are still fresh in everyone’s minds. This traumatic event was so painful that feelings of numbness aroused in my mind, making me realize how vulnerable and unsafe human life has become in our world. Even in our fast life forgetting such traumatic incidences is very difficult and it also teaches us not to take anything in life for granted. After researching this topic my horror was multiplied due to the fact that 19 of the 168 victims were children from a daycare center.

References

  1. Linenthal, E. T. (2003). The Unfinished Bombing: Oklahoma City in American Memory. NY: Oxford University Press US.
  2. Wright, S. A. (2007). Patriots, politics, and the Oklahoma City bombing. London: Cambridge University Press.
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