Dennis Smith, in his novel on the New York City Fire Department, Report from Engine Co. 82, wrote "If you pick up a telephone receiver in this town you may, or may not, get a dial tone. If you get on a subway you may, or may not, get stuck in a tunnel for an hour. The wall socket in your apartment may, or may not, contain electricity. The city's air may, or may not, be killing you. The only real sure thing in this town is that the firemen come when you pull the handle on that red box.1" So it was in 1972, and so it is today. The brave and dedicated traditions of America's emergency services continue. Our devoted emergency responders may be the same, but our world has certainly changed. Events such as World Trade Center Bombing of 1993, the Oklahoma City Bombing of 1995, and the coordinated attacks of September 11, 2001, that resulted in the deaths of 2,819 innocent victims, 403 of them emergency service personnel,2 have changed our nation forever.

Where will the next major terrorist attack occur?

  • A public school

  • A train station, bus station, airport terminal

  • A major professional or college sporting event

  • A church or religious event

  • A chemical plant or refinery

  • An office building

  • Military base

  • Federal building

  • Historical site

  • Power plant

  • Port facility

  • A factory

Wherever it might happen, help will arrive, just like Dennis Smith promised. Our nation's first responders will be there. The chaos, the human suffering, the enormity, will be overwhelming. We have a category of our population we call first responders. These people, prepared or not, will be given a "front row seat" at this sad moment in our nation's history. There has been a concern for responders being targeted by terrorists for a number of years. Ireland, Spain, and Israel experienced this alarming tactic first. A bomb would explode in a crowded civilian area. Responders, primarily from the military, would rush into the area and begin to render aid to the injured. Within minutes, a second device, perhaps another bomb, sometimes larger in size, would be detonated to kill responders. America thought it was immune to this type of twisted tactic, until a bombing incident at an abortion clinic in Atlanta, Georgia. Suddenly on January 16, 1997, we woke up to realize the nightmare of targeting police, fire, and emergency medical personnel, was a real threat in America. An abortion clinic in Sandy Springs, Georgia, not far from Atlanta, was bombed. The bomb, containing dynamite and flooring nails, was rigged to a Baby Ben clock. While responders worked the incident, a second bomb detonated in the parking lot, away from the abortion clinic. The secondary device was designed, positioned and timed to injure responders. Seven emergency service personnel were wounded.

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