Disaster Response
A Decade of Lessons Learned Post 9/11


Ten years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 1 1/2 years after the Haiti earthquake, and six months after the Japanese tsunami, earthquake and nuclear crises, this Forum event examined how far we have come in responding to disasters — and the policy implications for decision making in emergencies. The panel discussed the health risks first responders face, the roles of survivors and government agencies in the hours and days after a disaster, and what measures can be taken to speed recovery and clean-up.

Part of: .

Presented in Collaboration with Reuters

Background Articles

Image Credit: This site includes material which is © 2011 Reuters. All rights reserved. Photo credit: Peter Morgan/Reuters

  • Peg Blechman

    What is the status of emergency preparedness and inclusion of people with disabilities since 9/11? There have been complaints about shelters used during Hurricane Irene being inaccessible for people with disabilities. –Peg Blechman, United States Access Board

    Thank you for the question Ms. Blechman. We received a related question about personal care attendants in disasters via our email account from (theforum@hsph.harvard.edu) from Chip Wilson at the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

    Watch the expert participants answer the question at the beginning of Chapter 10 in the video above.

  • Craig Marston

    Please comment on lessons learned, coordination between intelligence received through various sources, law enforcement, health care, fire service, private sector) and shared with responders planning and operations.

    The continued lack of a national radio band that police and firefighters can access in emergencies is a matter of high concern, said Jennifer Leaning. Isaac Ashkenazi said that a common disaster language is needed among responders. Watch them discuss lessons learned about communications — and not always implemented — in Chapter 9, starting at minute 2:16 in the video.

  • Vera Sistenich

    Question for Dr Ashkenazi:

    In efforts to empower the public to be effective first responders to disasters, what are your top priorities in how to achieve this? — Dr. Vera Sistenich, Emergency Physician from Australia, MPH Global Health student

    Isaac Ashkenazi commented that the public is an asset, not an obstacle, and discussed its role. The real first responders are the bystanders, he said. (Watch Chapter 6, starting at minute 4:12.)

  • Brian Geiger

    This week, we will launch a voluntary disability registry permitting Metro area residents to receive first alerts about public emergencies and post-disaster resources for assistance. We are reassuring all users that information is private and stored on a secure server maintained by the county EMA. Access is restricted by password and information is encrypted. What cautions do you suggest for public health professionals and volunteers when implementing a voluntary disability registry? –Brian Geiger, Professor and Assistant Director, Center for Educational Accountability, University of Alabama at Birmingham

    Watch Stephanie Kayden answer the question in Chapter 10, starting at minute 3:45 in the video above.

  • Srihari Cattamanchi

    There is so much of technology developed on communication systems, but during a disaster when all communications get jammed or fail, what is the best and safe alternative to communicate with the outside world and disaster zone? — Dr. Srihari Cattamanchi, Fellow in Harvard-Affiliated Disaster Medicine Fellowship Program

  • Srihari Cattamanchi

    What are the lessons the panel would like to share with the developing world a decade after 9/11 on disaster preparedness and how are you going to get this message to the people and government of the third world to act and make themselves better prepared? — Dr. Srihari Cattamanchi, Fellow in Harvard-Affiliated Disaster Medicine Fellowship Program

    Stephanie Kayden discussed policy implications of mass displacements in the developing world and the developed world. (Watch Chapter 8, starting at minute 4:32).

  • Peg Blechman

    Will a video recording of this webcast be available and provided by email? I would like to send it to my listserv of members within the federal, state, and local governments and disability community. –Peg Blechman, United States Access Board

    Yes, this webcast in now available on this website as an on-demand video. We also will post in the next few days a transcript and a summary of key policy points — all of which we encourage you to share with others.

    Thanks to all who sent in questions. Please continue to add your comments and observations

  • Scott White

    Thanks, will watch this with interest. Wonder if anyone there observed that the gridlock in DC that followed the earthquake showed that disaster prep is still appallingly lacking here.

  • Ronald McCrary

    I’m a Chaplain & local Pastor. Wonderful session, great reflection and ideas. Can’t wait for the next one.