Emergency Response in Large-Scale Disasters: Lessons Learned and Implications for National Security
Document Type Honors Paper
This work analyzes the domestic emergency management policy of the United States and the extent to which it reflects an imbalance in U.S. national security policy. It tests the thesis that despite the rhetoric of enhanced emergency management capabilities in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the U.S. still remains vulnerable to largescale domestic emergencies due to a lack of adequate planning and resources. This vulnerability stems from a failure to implement lessons learned from large-scale domestic incidents such as the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the Northeast Blackout of 2003. Since U.S. security policy is heavily focused on military and foreign policy issues, emergency response capabilities have not been a priority and are not substantial enough to respond effectively to a large-scale domestic emergency. However, the two policy areas, foreign/military and domestic, are interconnected and mutually dependent. Since the threat of terrorism can never be fully eradicated, foreign/military and domestic security policies should be balanced so that if and when another attack occurs, the U.S. can respond effectively. This work uses the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the Northeast Blackout of 2003, and the State of Connecticut’s emergency training exercises as case studies to test this thesis. Interviews with first responders provide additional original research to supplement the data gathered from online resources, articles, and government reports. The concluding chapter demonstrates why a more balanced approach to security policy, both domestic and foreign/military policy, is necessary if the U.S. is to be successful in the “war on terrorism.” This work proves the thesis that the U.S. still remains unprepared for another domestic terrorist attack or other large-scale domestic emergency, and provides recommendations to further enhance response capabilities.
The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.