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Thoughts on the Fifth Anniversary of 9/11

On the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11 it is, perhaps, a time to reflect on how we are doing at becoming equipped to survive. Depending upon which source you read and who you believe, Americans in general range from just marginally better prepared to a lot better prepared. The following statistics from a recent press release by the Department of Homeland Security can be viewed in a positive light or as rather depressing:

* 91 percent of respondents said it is “very” or “somewhat” important for all Americans to be prepared for emergencies
* From 2005 to 2006, the proportion of Americans who said they have taken any steps to prepare rose 10 points, from 45 percent to 55 percent
* There were also several notable increases in key preparedness behaviors from 2004 to 2006:
> Put together an emergency kit: 44 percent in 2004 to 54 percent in 2006
> Created a family emergency plan: 32 percent in 2004 to 39 percent in 2006
> Searched for info about preparedness: 28 percent in 2004 to 40 percent in 2006

(from a study conducted in June by the Advertising Council on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security’s Ready Campaign)

I have my own, somewhat less scientific measuring stick. I can look at the logs for Equipped To Survive and see how traffic to the site has increased. In the past five years we have seen about a 45% increase in unique visitors to ETS. The number jumped big time after 9/11 and, somewhat encouragingly, never subsided to pre-9/11 levels as one might have expected. Every major disaster and catastrophe results in a good sized jump in traffic for about a month or so and in every case, we experience a notable long term increase.

It’s the latter statistic that I find encouraging. It says to me that we are starting to take this stuff more seriously and that more and more Americans are getting religion, as it were. However, we still have a huge ways to go before we, as a nation, become self-sufficient to the extent that we should.

Those DHS statistics above can also be taken to suggest a not particularly impressive picture of a nation that as a whole actually realizes it needs to take personal responsibility for its own preparedness; that has thought about it, and yet stubbornly refuses to do so.

My interpretation is that far too many citizens are either still possessed by the head-in-the-sand syndrome and believe that it really won’t happen to them or are so lazy that they choose to conveniently and foolishly believe that somehow the government, which proves time and time again that it cannot be relied upon in an emergency, will somehow become competent overnight for the nest big one. What planet to these folks live on?

There is no question in my mind that government is significantly better prepared today to deal with a major terrorist attack than we were five years ago (that doesn’t mean adequately prepared, just better). I also know that for the person who is personally involved in one of these tragedies–it doesn’t matter for squat. The government is NEVER going to respond quick enough to be much help to those caught up in the initial stages of a major terrorist attack. It simply isn’t possible for large organizations to respond quickly enough and the more massive the situation, the worse the response will be.

It’s up to the individual to be prepared and anyone who hasn’t got that message by now has got to have rocks for brains. By default, if you’re reading this I’m preaching to the choir. You don’t have rocks for brains. Congratulations!