Lessons learned from Katrina, 9/11, SARS, and other disasters
WEISFUSE: I'll take a stab at it. Yes, we are very aware, well aware of NIMS National Institute of Management System. So on paper these are all dealt with but the issue becomes - on the ground, you know. It's easy to say, yes, we follow NIMS, but you know, New York City is a very complicated city. Multiple agencies would be on the ground. Does everybody know this, can act it out during a time of crisis? I mean, that's something we're working on, but having the document doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to work that way.
SHUTE: How useful is it as a framework?
WEISFUSE: Well, I think the Incident Command System is very useful as a framework. We've adopted it wholeheartedly because of some of the mistakes we made, you know, in emergency preparedness and some of the difficulties we've had. But, you know, command I'm sure the military, with its sort of more regimented way of doing things, is a lot more able to effect these kinds of incident management or command and control protocols than the civilian sector, where everybody wants to do their thing, you know, you want to go to the site and do your neurosurgery or whatever it is. So I think the military certainly has advantages on it and I think the civilian sector needs to grow more into that kind of role.
SHUTE: Thank you. Next question?
DEBOISBLANC: Nancy, as a panelist, I would like to ask you a question. What is the I know the answer, it's a rhetorical question but I want tohear you comment on it or I want to hear other people in the audience speak to the responsibility of the press to accurately report these events without inflaming the stories to capture ratings. That, in the immediate post-Katrina period, was a killer. That
SHUTE: No, I think
DEBOISBLANC: there was a lot of reporting going around that turned out in retrospect none of it was true. And I know that it's very difficult early on to validate a lot of those stories, but clearly as we try to do our jobs better, you've got to do your jobs better.
SHUTE: And I think you were listening just to local radio, wasn't that your source of news?I'm just trying to get out of this.
DEBOISBLANC: I appreciate it.
SHUTE: I'm happy to address that because I think it's a huge problem for those of us who are trying to cover these events as they happen. You know, I thought the Toronto folks really got on the ground fast and had a way for reporters we all knew about the 3 p.m. press conference and so we weren't always trying to buy Dr. Low.
But with things like anthrax, it was excruciating trying to get accurate information about what was happening here in D.C., in our own city, let alone New York and Florida and some of the other locations. I do think systems with the agencies have improved so it's easier for us to get information. But I've got to tell you, from someone who's really, really trying hard to give level-headed, dispassionate advice, we have some photographers of ours sitting here in the room who went over to Brentwood, photographed, came back and then found out they've been contaminated with anthrax and were wondering what to do about their kids. That's a huge issue. We're all trying but we've got a long ways to go.