Home Emergency Management News Rethinking Security and the Management of Terrorist Attacks

Rethinking Security and the Management of Terrorist Attacks


By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

On March 22, London experienced a terrorist attack near the British Parliament buildings. According to reports, the suspect crashed a vehicle into a group of pedestrians. One woman even jumped into the Thames River to get away from the attacker.

Emergency services quickly arrived on the scene and tended to the injured. Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood, a witness to the event, performed CPR on an injured police officer. For anyone who experienced this incident firsthand, the scene was chaotic and horribly frightening.

Terrorist attacks are tragedies for the innocent people injured or killed at the hands of a person who’s vowed to kill. For people who are in security positions, these incidents are even more tragic since first responders experience trauma themselves. The unfortunate reality is that as more violent incidents like the London terrorist attack occur, the more emergency managers and security professionals must tighten their methods for managing such crises.

International Political Arena Changes Increase Likelihood of Attacks

Political scientists throughout the 1990s discussed the international arena and the political dynamics that were starting to emerge. U.S. magazine Foreign Affairs noted, for example, that future wars would be fought between civilizations rather than by individual countries. Foreign Affairs author Samuel Huntington famously wrote, “The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.”

Huntington’s argument also shed light on the notion that the end of the Cold War also ended the bipolar world. Furthermore, his book, A Clash of Civilizations, raised the idea that international politics would transition into a multi-polar world.

Numerous political scientists argue that a multi-polar world would bring with it a certain instability. That instability would make citizens potentially more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

The Connection between International Security and Terrorist Attacks

Unfortunately, there is a direct correlation between international security and terrorist attacks. Emergency managers need to be well versed in what’s happening politically to predict whether there are security threats that might result in terrorist attacks.

Emergency managers, however, are not always security experts. It is important for emergency agencies to have collaborative relationships with security organizations to effectively manage such incidents.

Sharing Security Tactics Can Prevent or Mitigate Terrorist Attacks

Emergency managers also need to understand how past incidents unfolded and how on-scene emergency managers handled previous incidents. Understanding what has taken place also allows emergency managers to contemplate tactics and strategies.

There are many opportunities at the federal level for lesson sharing. Criminals share information when they’re contemplating an illegal act; emergency managers simply must do the same to tighten how they handle violent incidents.

Terrorist attacks like the one in London this week will unfortunately continue to occur. Emergency managers need to stay current about world affairs to tighten their tactics if a terrorist strikes in their jurisdiction.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.