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Emergency Management, Homeland Security, and Higher Education: Overcoming the 9/12 Syndrome Emergency Management, Homeland Security, and Higher Education:

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Presentation on theme: "Emergency Management, Homeland Security, and Higher Education: Overcoming the 9/12 Syndrome Emergency Management, Homeland Security, and Higher Education:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Emergency Management, Homeland Security, and Higher Education: Overcoming the 9/12 Syndrome Emergency Management, Homeland Security, and Higher Education: Overcoming the 9/12 Syndrome Kathleen Tierney Department of Sociology and Natural Hazards Center University of Colorado at Boulder National Center for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) FEMA Higher Education Conference 2005

2 The 9/12 Syndrome Prior to 9-11, the Nation Had Done Almost Nothing To Prepare for Catastrophic Events Homeland Security Challenges Require Both New Institutional Arrangements and New Management Philosophies

3 The 9/12 Syndrome Homeland Security Threats are Completely Different from Other Types of Hazards Behavioral Insights Derived From Social Science Research No Longer Apply

4 Overcoming the 9/12 Syndrome Strong Emergency Management System Prior to 9/11 No a priori Reason to Believe That U. S. Required Large-Scale Changes in EM Infrastructure, Management Assumptions

5 Overcoming the 9/12 Syndrome No Evidence That Individual, Group, and Organizational Behavior Differs as a Function of Disaster Type— Even for Events Caused by Intentional Terrorist Acts

6 Behavioral Myths Recycled and Re-Invented Since 9/11 Panic Role Abandonment Victims and Public as a Problem to be Managed: The Need for Command and Control

7 Misconceptions About Panic In Public and Media Discourse, Term is Used Synonymously With Intense Fear, Emotionality Information-Seeking, Stockpiling Supplies, Orderly Flight

8 General Research Consensus Panic Is Exceedingly Rare Research Has Identified How and Why Panic Occurs Panicky Responses Can Be Prevented

9 Role Abandonment in Disasters Issue First Raised in the Research Literature in the 1950s Has Been Debated and Discussed Over Decades, e.g., With Respect to Nuclear Accidents—and Now Terrorism

10 General Research Consensus Role Strain Does Occur, But Role Abandonment Is Uncommon— Especially Among Those In Responsible Positions Over-Response and Refusal to Stop Working Are More Typical Patterns Among Crisis-Relevant Personnel

11 Disaster Myths and the 9/12 Syndrome Popular Culture: Disaster Films, TV Shows News Media: Reporting Conventions, Emphasis on the Atypical, Drawing Conclusions Before Facts Are Known

12 Disaster Myths and the 9/12 Syndrome 9/12 “Experts” Unfamiliar with the Research Literature Mistrust of the Public Some May Benefit From Promulgation of Disaster Myths

13 Sustaining Myths of Panic and Role Abandonment “Outbreak,” “Volcano” and “The Day After Tomorrow”: High-Ranking Government and Health Officials Leave Their Posts to Search for and Aid Family Members “Dirty War”: Post-Film Panel Discussion Focuses on Panic

14 Sustaining Myths of Panic and Role Abandonment Science Magazine Article: Dirty Bomb Scenario—Written by Two Physicists—Discusses Panic Flight Web Sites, Newsletters, Professional Training

15 Sustaining Myths of Panic and Role Abandonment Health Affairs: “If there is a significant bioattack, we will undoubtedly see defection of health care personnel.” Concern With Absenteeism Among Health Care Workers Due to “Conflicted Loyalties”

16 Sustaining the Panic Myth: New Red Cross Media Campaign

17 Negative Consequences Myths Learned by Next Generation Myths Influence Decision Makers Poorly-Informed Policy Discourse, e.g., “Worried Well”

18 What Can We Do? Intensify Outreach to New Homeland Security Higher Ed Programs Engage Academic, Practitioner, Policy Communities, and the Media in Active Dialogue; Provide Insights from the Empirical Literature

19 What Can We Do? Emphasize the Importance of Critical Thinking and an “Evidence Based” Approach to EM and HS Place Current Situation in Historical Context: We’ve Been Here Before!

20 Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center University of Colorado 482 UCB Boulder, CO Phone: (303) Web:


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