Essay on Hazards in the Target Community: 11 September

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Harvey Mudd College
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The scale of the impact affected all categories Global, National, Regional (National Capitol Region), City and Neighboring Counties.

Brief Description

On September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 77, which was scheduled to fly from Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia to Los Angeles, California was hijacked by 5 men affiliated to the terrorist group Al-Qaeda and deliberately crashed it into the Pentagon which is located in Arlington County, Virginia (Grieger, & Knowles, 2014). The attack killed 64 people on board which included passengers, crew and the hijackers. The attack also killed 125 people who were in the building

Primary all-hazards class(es)

Man-Made (intentional) and NATECH

Primary hazard CBRNE category(y/ies)

Biological, Chemical, Explosives

Hazards in the Target Community

With regards to the terrorist stacks that took place on September 11, 2001, there were various hazards that affected the population in various ways. The hazards were grouped into three categories which were the man-made hazards, natural and technological (NATECH) hazards and the CBRNE hazards (Hansen, Nissen, & Heir, 2013). To begin with, there were various man-made hazards during the attack on the Pentagon, and the first was lack of protocol for roof rescue and this exposed the victims and survivors from descending the building the North Tower. After the plane struck the building, the three stair wells of the building were damaged thereby making them impassable. Additionally, the doors that led to the roof were locked for security reasons and prevented the victims from accessing the roof (Grieger, Fullerton, & Ursano, 2003). In this case, there was the hazard of structural hazards in that the building could have fallen on the survivors.

The second hazard was the radiation the evacuation of thousands of people away from the building, this is because the evacuation of a high large number of people from the building could have led to additional problems such as stampede leading to higher injuries or death of the people (Grieger, Waldrep, Lovasz, & Ursano, 2005). The third man-made hazard was the dangerous rooftop, this was as a result of the impact of the attack which weakened the structural integrity of the building and hindered evacuation operations from the rooftop. The fourth hazard was the deviations in the stair ways which made the stairs weaker and exposed the victims to additional challenges of finding their way out of the building. Finally, there was smoke from the building that exposed the victims to both physical and physiological dangers (Pyszczynski, Solomon, & Greenberg, 2003). The smoke also hindered their movement in the building and slowed the evacuation process.

With regards to the NATECH hazards, the first was the release of harmful substances that resulted from the attacked building, this included construction materials that were ejected from the building and chemical installations from the building. The second was spillage of chemical substance into the water body that led exposed the nearby community and the water animals to various dangers. In this manner, chemical spills and dust and dust spread into the waters and caused tremendous damage (Neria, DiGrande, & Adams, 2011). Finally, there was damage to infrastructure due to fire that spread to other buildings. The wind that blew led to faster spread of fire hence increasing the hazard during the process.

With regards to the CBRNE hazards, there were various forms of biological hazards, and one of such was due infection of twenty-three people and the death of five people with anthrax-laced mail. In this manner, contact between people and dangerous animals as a result of the terrorist attacks led to the infection of a higher number of people. The probability of this hazard was however low at 23 percent, and the severity of consequence at 16 percent (Schlenger et al., 2002). Chemical hazards, on the other hand, resulted from the victims and the community inhaling dangerous chemicals and gases from the vicinity. Additionally, smoke that was emitted from the rumbles cause cardiovascular diseases to the community. The probability of chemical hazard was recorded at 31 percent, and the severity of consequence at 24 percent. Finally, the explosives primarily caused destruction of property and death of a high number of people. Moreover, the primary explosion and led to secondary explosion from gas lines and mixing of chemical substances which then led to higher destruction of property in the surrounding and the community at large. The probability of this hazard was however low at 44 percent, and the severity of consequence at 57 percent (Hulse, 2003).

Guiding Frameworks and Agencies with Jurisdiction

The key frameworks with the level of jurisdiction as regards the Pentagon Terrorist attack are the FBI and the CIA, this is because they are the bodies responsible for maintaining law and order and collecting intelligence on the security of the country. In this manner, the guiding frameworks are classified national security documents and the American constitution in that they aid in the interpretation of the law and guide policing forces on the process of collecting intelligence and steps to take in response to terrorist attacks (Grieger, Fullerton, & Ursano, 2003).

Foreseeable Challenges

There are various challenges for disaster managers and one of them is lack of comprehensive evacuation procedures to follow, this is because of unpreparedness of emergency services and personnel (Schlenger et al., 2002). The second challenge is unpreparedness of the civilians, and their unwillingness to help in the cases of disasters. Individual volunteers play a crucial role in the cases of disasters and there is a need for emergency personnel to educate the society on disasters to that they be willing and able to help. Third, there is the challenge of command, and this is because instructions and commands are given by different officers during disaster management. Contradicting commands could lead to disorganization and hamper the rescue and evacuation processes (Neria, DiGrande, & Adams, 2011). Additionally, disorganization could lead to increase in accidents, injuries and deaths.

Moreover, there could be the challenge of poor coordination of the agencies responsible for handling disaster situations and such might hinder proceeding steps when attending to the victims. Communication and communication play a critical role when attending to victims and there is a need to focus attention more on the same (Hansen, Nissen, & Heir, 2013). Finally, there might be technical and infrastructural challenges which would be lack of special and critical equipment to handle disasters.


Grieger, T. A., & Knowles, J. W. (2014). Mental Health Response to Pentagon Staff in the Weeks Following the Attack. On the Ground After September 11: Mental Health Responses and Practical Knowledge Gained, 198.

Grieger, T. A., Fullerton, C. S., & Ursano, R. J. (2003). Posttraumatic stress disorder, alcohol use, and perceived safety after the terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Psychiatric Services, 54(10), 1380-1382.

Grieger, T. A., Waldrep, D. A., Lovasz, M. M., & Ursano, R. J. (2005). Follow-up of Pentagon employees two years after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. Psychiatric Services, 56(11), 1374-1378.

Hansen, M. B., Nissen, A., & Heir, T. (2013). Proximity to terror and post-traumatic stress: a follow-up survey of governmental employees after the 2011 Oslo bombing attack. BMJ open, 3(7), e002692.

Hulse, C. (2003). Pentagon prepares a futures market on terror attacks. The New York Times, 29.

Neria, Y., DiGrande, L., & Adams, B. G. (2011). Posttraumatic stress disorder following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks: a review of the literature among highly exposed populations. American Psychologist, 66(6), 429.

Pyszczynski, T., Solomon, S., & Greenberg, J. (2003). In the wake of 9/11: Rising above the terror. American Psychological Association.

Schlenger, W. E., Caddell, J. M., Ebert, L., Jordan, B. K., Rourke, K. M., Wilson, D., ... & Kulka, R. A. (2002). Psychological reactions to terrorist attacks: findings from the National Study of Americans' Reactions to September 11. Jama, 288(5), 581-588.

The 9/11 commission report: Final report of the national commission on terrorist attacks upon the United States. Government Printing Office, 2011.


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