I was privileged to participate in a local 9/11 memorial service this past weekend. Called “Remember, Honor, Hope,” the event helped each of us properly mark the 10th anniversary of this tragic event in American history.
- Remember: We remembered those who lost their lives that day—those who perished on the four hijacked planes, those at the Twin Towers and those at the Pentagon.
- Honor: We honored those who worked feverishly that day to save lives – many losing their lives in the process (341 firefighters, 23 NYPD police officers, 37 Port Authority officials and two paramedics) as well as those who had the unenviable job of cleaning up the unimaginable debris and remains that blanketed Ground Zero for months afterwards.
- Hope: Despite the devastation of that day, we have hope for our future. I believe that, without hope, we have nothing. We learn from history so it doesn’t repeat itself and we persevere for the next generation—just as those before us did through wars, hard economic times and natural disasters.
Are we prepared in the event of a disaster?
As a city leader, 9/11 reminded me about the importance of being prepared. Auburn had a disaster preparedness plan in place well before 9/11, but as we watched things unfold from afar, we realized we can’t develop it and put it in a drawer, so to speak. We must revisit our disaster preparedness plans regularly. While we hope to never face a 9/11-like event, these plans are important for all kinds of disasters—some of which we’ve already experienced, like flooding, snow storms, ice storms and tornadoes. With a disaster preparedness plan in place, our response to the community becomes second nature. We know what to do and how to deploy help in the quickest, most logical manner.
9/11 also emphasized the need for centralized and coordinated communication between our first responders—that is, the fire and police, as well as others, including EMT, hospitals and sometimes the street department. We can better serve our community if we’re all totally connected on the same dispatch. With that understanding of crisis management in mind, DeKalb County – with the support of all the fire service, law enforcement, EMS and local governments – is in the process of building a centralized communications center, which is set to be open in early 2012. Whatever comes at us, we’ll be prepared to serve the community—with deliberate, decisive actions that will minimize damage and maximize safety. That’s something we can all feel hopeful about.