One of the most critical roles for local government is to have an efficient and effective emergency preparedness and response system. A successful emergency preparedness and response system plans for and protects its citizens from potential crises, both expected and unexpected. The need for an effective system could not be made more evident than on September 11th, 2001 after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Many valuable lessons were learned after that response including the need for clearer strategic planning and better communications. Six years later, the City of Minneapolis encountered an unexpected disaster when the I-35 W Bridge collapsed during rush hour on Wednesday, August 1st 2007. The emergency response to the I-35 W Bridge collapse was swift and massive with more than 140 different organizations involved in the effort. It took emergency responders less than two hours to rescue every survivor, and as I will argue throughout the paper, the crisis response to the I-35 W Bridge collapse is a model for effective emergency preparedness and response in the 21st century.
There were two very important lessons learned from this analysis. First,
hierarchical and network characteristics within the crisis management system proved to
be one of the most significant reasons the emergency response was so effective. The
crisis management system utilized during the I-35 W Bridge collapse was the Incident
Command System. The Minneapolis response illustrates that a successful crisis
management system requires a balance between hierarchical and network elements. The
second most important lesson learned was Mayor R.T. Rybak’s decision to attend the
Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) training course in 2002. Thisdecision played a crucial role in the response and recovery efforts for two reasons. First, it was the initial step towards relationship building, and second, it illustrated weaknesses in the city’s emergency response, which were amended before the 2007 I-35 W Bridge collapse.
Doyle, Jeremiah. A Model for Emergency Preparedness and Response in the 21st Century: A Closer Look at the I-35 W Bridge Collapse and the City of Minneapolis’s Crisis Management System. May 13, 2009. Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. Master of Public Policy.
professional paper for the fulfillment of the Masters of Public Policy degree
A Model for Emergency Preparedness and Response in the 21st Century: A Closer Look at the I-35 W Bridge Collapse and the City of Minneapolis’s Crisis Management System.
Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
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