Mayor says emergency responders need better training for future

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

NEW YORK -- Emergency responders need better training and improved communication in order to prepare for more terrorist attacks, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday.

Bloomberg spoke to a group of emergency management leaders from around the country at the "Looking Back, Moving Forward" conference on lessons learned after Sept. 11.

"Obviously we always have a long ways to go," Bloomberg said. "You cannot protect against every eventuality, but what you can do is you can train your people as well as you possibly can, get them the best equipment, you can sit back and think what's likely to happen and then you can educate the public."

The three-day conference at the Sheraton New York hotel began a day after Vice President Dick Cheney warned that future attacks on the United States are likely. Edward Jacoby Jr., director of New York state's Emergency Management Office, said Cheney's comments underscored the importance of the conference.

"No matter how smart we are we can always learn something more," Jacoby said.

Preparing for the worst

Bloomberg said counterterrorism preparation has become a way of life for local government.

"We'll swap ideas and hopefully we'll all learn," the mayor said.

"I think what we're trying to do in the city is look back at 9-11 and see what we can learn about that, how to do it better next time."

Former Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen, who was called away from the fire command center at the World Trade Center moments before the south tower collapsed, urged officials to envision the worst case scenario when responding to every emergency.

"Don't think that it's a normal situation, think it's different," Von Essen said. "It's better to overreact and think out of the box and think it's something unusual than to go into an incident thinking it's the same old stuff."

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