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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.

American Military University


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