More than 5 years after the September 11th attacks, the U.S. is still not prepared to deal with major catastrophies like another 9/11 or Katrina. Major cities still do not have interoperable communications systems in place. These systems allow first responders from various local agencies to communicate with one another, as well as with State, and Federal authorities....including National Guard units. This is absolutely crucial to mount an effective response to terror attacks, major domestic crimes, major fires, or Natural disasters.
Interoperable communications capability is one of the key recommendations of the 9/11 commission. This recommendation stemmed from the confusion that New York firefighters faced at the World Trade Center on 9/11 due to poor communications, and an overwhelmed system. New York Fire Commanders could not even communicate with some of their own firefighters or with commanders of other agencies within their own city, such as the NYPD or ambulance units. Firefighters had to shuttle messages back and forth on foot.
I completed an extensive report on U.S. disaster preparedness approximately a year ago and I am familiar with many of the deficiencies that still remain in Homeland Security, particularly with disaster response. Once the Democrats take over the Congress this week, hopefully some things can finally get done to deal with this problem.
The U.S. has spent (wasted) more than 350 Billion dollars in Iraq, when that money could have been better spent fulfilling these crucial needs here at home.