September 11, 2001, terrorists staged an attack on the United States. There were several areas affected, but the Twin Towers in New York City were - and still remain - the most notable. They are what everyone thinks of, when 9/11 is mentioned. On that day many lives were lost. Among them were 37 officers and one K-9 officer from the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) (Damico & Quay, 2010). That department works jointly for New York and New Jersey, and was housed in the World Trade Center complex. The quick thinking of the PAPD, along with other law enforcement agencies, reduced the loss of life. While still tragic, the 9/11 events could have been significantly more devastating if it were not for the quick thinking of a number of police officers, firefighters, and other individuals. One of the reasons the PAPD performed so well on 9/11, however, likely came from the fact that they were not strangers to that type of attack on that specific target. In 1993, the World Trade Center was also the subject of an attack by terrorists attempting to destroy it (Chernick, 2005).
The attack in February, 1993, and the attack in September, 2001 were both perpetrated by terrorist groups. While the September 11th attack resulted in much more devastation and loss of life, the 1993 attack was still a wake-up call for the United States. It may have also better prepared the PAPD and other law enforcement agencies to handle events such as what occurred on September 11th. Of course, no one expected the events of that day, and it was virtually impossible to "see it coming." The United States had grown complacent, and was not expecting any harm to come to its shores. The Terrorists exploited that, because they knew the United States' people felt safe and secure. By attacking the way they did, they destroyed that feeling of safety and created a feeling of fear and worry among a large majority of the American people (Bolton, 2006). Many are still afraid today.
The response to the incident, however, was anything but fearful. When the PAPD and other first responders arrived at the Towers, they knew they had to start getting people out as quickly as possible. Many people had already been evacuated, but those that were still inside and still alive were at great risk of serious injury or death, because the Towers were not built to withstand the attacks they had undergone. They started to crumble, and if they fell they would take the lives of many more people if those people did not evacuate the area. The PAPD was only a part of the critical incident response. The New York fire department and police department also responded, and there were many untrained people who pitched in to help because they saw the gravity of the situation (Caraley, 2002). Because so many different agencies appeared to help with the incident, it was truly a multi-disciplinary response and approach to protecting as many citizens as possible.
With any kind of CBRNE incident, there are several issues that have to be considered. First, saving lives is the most important thing - but not at the expense of many others lives that will be put at risk. In other words, the people who are working to save lives, such as the PAPD, have to temper what they are doing with the understanding that there is only so much of which they are capable before the risk to them becomes too high to continue. Going into the Towers to rescue people was possible, and it was done, but there was a point reached where it became too dangerous because of the risk of the building collapsing. The first responders did not have to worry about any kind of chemical or biological weapons, but only about the instability caused by the planes flying into the Towers and the resulting explosion and fire. While these were no small issues, they were not as significant as they would have been had there also been large amounts of chemicals, biological agents, or neurotoxins released. It seems hard to believe that 9/11 could have been worse, but that is the case (Bolton, 2006).
During the response to the 9/11 incident, there were many agencies all working together (Chernick, 2005). Despite that, there was a great deal of confusion, because so much…