Written nearly two years after September 11, 2001, this report concludes that the United States is drastically underfunding local emergency responders and remains dangerously unprepared to handle a catastrophic attack on American soil, particularly one involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-impact conventional weapons. If the nation does not take immediate steps to better identify and address the urgent needs of emergency responders, the next terrorist incident could be even more devastating than 9/11.
These are the central findings of the Council-sponsored independent Task Force on Emergency Responders, a blue-ribbon panel of Nobel laureates, U.S. military leaders, former high-level government officials, and other senior experts, led by former Senator Warren B. Rudman and advised by former White House terrorism and cyber-security chief Richard A. Clarke. This report marks the first time that data from emergency responder communities has been brought together to estimate national needs.
The Task Force met with U.S. firefighters, police officers, emergency medical workers, public health providers, and other emergency responders—whose lives depend on the adequacy of their preparedness for another terrorist attack—and asked them what additional programs they truly need to establish a minimum effective response to a catastrophic attack. The shockingly high unbudgeted needs they articulated make clear the importance of closing the gap between current levels of emergency preparedness and minimum essential preparedness levels across the United States. This is a must read for anyone interested in how the United States can, and must, better protect itself.