As we observe the ominous 11th anniversary of 9/11, we at RJWestmore Inc. would like to once again thank all of the emergency personnel and civilians who provided much needed assistance in the hours, days, weeks, months and years immediately following what is considered the deadliest domestic terrorism attack in United States History. In the years since the attacks, we, as a nation have grown accustomed to the idea that America may not be as safe and secure as we once believed. And this is actually a good thing—because it has made us realize that we need to prepare. And preparation is always a good thing!
When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. So, to mark the occasion of the 11th anniversary, we want to share some tips to help you plan for a terrorist attack. We hope you will never have to use the ideas. But, in the event you do, we want you to BE SAFE. In fact, at RJWestmore Inc., our primary goal is to keep you safe!
Over the years, terrorists have used several different methods to attack at home and abroad. Here are some examples:
- Armed attacks and Assassinations— these include raids and ambushes. I like to ambush the neighborhood cats. But I don’t really mean them any harm. I just like to see them run for cover.
- Arsons and Fire bombings—incendiary devices are cheap and easy to hide. So arson and fire bombings are easily conducted by those groups that may not be as well-organized, equipped, or trained as well-funded terrorist organization.
- Bioterrorism—refers to the intentional release of toxic biological or chemical agents. Some of the guys at the fire station make chili that gives off toxic fumes. But I don’t think that’s the same thing.
- Cyber Terrorism—using information technology to attack. I prefer to keep my information in paper folders locked in a file cabinet. But that’s just me.
- Ecoterrorism— a recently coined term describing violence in the interests of environmentalism. In general, environmental extremists sabotage property to inflict economic damage.
- Hijackings and Skyjackings—the seizure by force of a surface vehicle, its passengers, and/or its cargo. Skyjacking is the taking of an entire aircraft, which creates a mobile, hostage-barricade situation. This is why I don’t fly. Well, that and the fact they won’t give me a passport. I refuse to sleep in the cold belly of the plane like other K9s.
- Kidnappings and Hostage-Takings—terrorists establish a bargaining position in an attempt to elicit publicity.
- Narcoterrorism—has had several meanings since 1983. It once denoted violence used by drug traffickers to influence governments which were trying to stop the drug trade. In the last several years, narcoterrorism has been used to indicate situations in which terrorist groups use drug trafficking to fund their operations.
- Nuclear Terrorism— refers to a number of ways nuclear materials might be exploited as a terrorist tactic. These include attacking nuclear facilities, purchasing or building nuclear weapons or finding ways to disperse radioactive materials.
- And, finally… Bombings— which are the most common type of terrorist act.
Overall, the best way to prepare for a terrorist attack is to be observant and vigilant. Familiarize yourself with your work, school and community disaster plans. If you are not aware of such plans, contact your supervisor, school administrators, or local fire department for information. If no one has made a disaster plan, come up with one on your own and share it with emergency personnel.
On an ongoing basis, keep your eyes open for unusual activity in your immediate area, as members of terrorist cells often live and work in suburban neighborhoods even as they prepare to attack. If your neighbor receives lots of packages marked “ammo” or “firearms,” call the police department. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Since bombs are the most typical terrorist attack, here are a few hints about handling bomb threats. Now, admittedly, most members of al-Qaeda won’t call to warn about a bomb threat. But domestic terrorists usually do. And the most common way they warn is via telephone. Subscribers to the RJWestmore Training System watch colorful educational videos that walk you through the steps to take if someone calls with a bomb threat:
- Take a deep breath. Most bomb threats are false. And even if the threat is real, calls are made by those who want to minimize damage.
- Bomb threats are usually made by telephone. So keep emergency numbers by your telephone.
- Be polite, calm and patient and ask questions: (This seems weird to me. Be polite to a terrorist? But I think I understand. You have to try to keep him/her calm.)
- Where is the device?
- When is it set to go off?
- What does it look like?
- Why are you doing this?
- Do you have any bacon? (Just kidding. But I love any excuse to bring up bacon.)
- Pay careful attention to background noises. Does the caller have an accent? Does he/she speak with a lisp or stutter? Write everything down so you will be able to give authorities a clear description of the caller.
- A bomb search should only be done by people who are familiar with the area and have been trained to investigate. Some of my best friends are bomb-sniffing dogs.
- Do not use two-way radios or cell phones, as these can remotely detonate a device.
- Call 911. In this case, the Twilight Bark won’t do!
- Notify building management immediately after hanging up.
- Open the doors and windows. I recommend doing this all of the time for airflow!
- Prepare to evacuate the building following pre-established safety guidelines.
- Do not reenter the building until you have gotten the “all clear” from emergency personnel.
For information about what to do during and after a terrorist bombing, check out the free information available on the CDC website. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJWestmore, Inc. Our new Version 3.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system.