It has been 11 years since the day “September 11, 2011” became synonymous to the term terrorism and the anti-terrorism campaigns of the international community. The attack became the start of the US’ fight against the various terrorist groups around the globe, targeting the higher ups of groups such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban. However, looking back on the day of the attack, one can wonder as to how the US federal government responded upon the attacks and how it utilized its forces to ensure the safety of the onlookers and the rest of the state. While the response team worked endlessly to check for survivors, the immediate response of the government revealed several lapses in terms of current immigration policies, response time and security policies currently imposed in the country.
Upon the attack, government agencies were in chaos as to how to relay the information regarding the attack and how to direct the civilians. According to Purpura (2007), then President George W. Bush only left Florida when the second jet hit the second tower. Nonetheless, several orders were initiated such as air patrols over New York and Washington, securing US borders and the investigations as to where the country lapsed on the attack. In New York, the repeater system placed in the towers was not easily activated, causing rescuers to be trapped alongside many civilians when the towers collapse. Nonetheless, they were able to correspond to each other through radio frequency, while victims and civilians were able to use their mobile phones and credit card phones. However, due to the number of callers, network traffic became overloaded, leaving some unable to broadcast their cries for help or location.
According to the McKinsey Report (2002) for the New York City Government, Emergency medical technicians were sent alongside 911 ambulances immediately to the scene, setting up several strategic triads around the site for casualties. With the collapse of both South and North Towers, emergency staffs were moved to Battery Park City near the Embassy Suites, Chelsea Piers and also the Staten Island Ferry Terminal to administer aid. Most of the wounded and survivors from the site were taken to these points, each being sent to two areas meant for critically injured and one for the wounded. For the critically injured, makeshift tables and stretchers were setup with their own corresponding medical team to ensure treatment once casualties were brought in drones. Most of the supplies needed by the triage centres came from neighbouring hospitals, providing the medical teams several airway and vascular control machinery for those who have inhaled fumes from the site. Shifts were done to ensure that medical teams had enough rest while the food was donated by merchants around the triage centres .
Upon the first hit of the American Airlines Flight 11 in the Northern Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 am, the New York Fire Department immediately responded albeit they had first responded to a call regarding a gas leak near the area. According to Langley (2006), then Fire Chief Joe Pfieffer noted that respondents to the incident found some difficulties bringing in their heavy equipment to the North Tower as they met office workers running downwards to escape the building. They also found problems over health and visuals as per the time of the collapse, leaving firefighters surrounded by cloud, smoke, and dust. The thick cloud around Ground Zero caused difficulties over their search for survivors, especially for those already in the field. What added to the problem was the panic around Manhattan as the second tower slowly collapsed around the neighbouring area. Radios were mostly used throughout the site, and for those who have managed to survive the collapse of the towers, they were able to radio contact the people in the field to dig through the wreckage. It took hours for support teams to dig up the wreckage considering the amount of steel, concrete and timber that has to be sorted out. The responders also used a Life Detector, a listening device that could notify if there are still voices in the wreckage
Two of the most notable agencies that had immediately created changes and responses to call on terrorism and homeland security were the Transportation Security Administration, and the Department of Homeland Security. In terms of the Transportation Security Administration, it covered several lapses that the FAA failed to cover such as general aviation measures, as well as private airplanes that could be used for hijack operations. The TSA also served as the replacement for the FAA, in consideration that it is now in charge of aviation security. According to the report issued by the DHS (2011), the Department of Homeland Security highlighted the response of the country to protect not only the territory of the US from terrorist attacks but also from other similar incidents such as accidents and natural disasters. The DHS became prominent over the creation of several security policies that ensure safety and easy enforcement of justice once the country is being threatened by any organization.
However, there are still things that the US federal government could have considered and done even before the tragedy struck in 9/11. Two notable agencies that could have done better in preventing the disaster would have been the North American Aerospace Defence Command and the Federal Aviation Administration. According to Purpura (2007), the 9/11 Commission, on its report to the Senate and to the President, noted that both agencies failed to create a stable connection that could have directed the calls to the proper agencies. There was a lack of security channels for both FAA and NORAD, causing the president to have problems contacting the agencies in question. Both agencies also lacked protocols as to how they will act when hijacked planes are in the country
Langley, A. (2006). September 11: Attack in America. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books.
McKinsey & Company. (2002, August 9). McKinsey Report - Emergency Medical Service response. Retrieved September 19, 2012, from Official Fire Department City of New York Website: http://www.nyc.gov/html/fdny/pdf/mck_report/ems_response.pdf
Purpura, P. (2007). Terrorism and Homeland Security: An Introduction with Applications. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
US Department of Homeland Security. (2011). Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendation. Washington D.C: US Department of Homeland Security.