Two years after September 11, 2001, the United States is drastically underfunding local emergency responders and remains dangerously unprepared to handle an attack on American soil, particularly one involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or catastrophic conventional weapons. If the United States does not take immediate steps to better identify and address the urgent needs of emergency responders, the next terrorist incident could be even more devastating than those of September 11. The Council-sponsored Independent Task Force on Emergency Responders met with emergency responder organizations across the country to assess what would be required to achieve a minimum effective response to a catastrophic terrorist attack. The presently unbudgeted needs total $98.4 billion over the next five years, according to the emergency responder communities and budget experts. Although the Task Force argues that additional funding for emergency responders is urgently needed, the report also stresses the importance of developing national preparedness standards to ensure the most efficient and effective use of limited resources. The Task force credits the Bush administration, Congress, governors, and mayors with taking important steps since September 11 to respond to the risk of catastrophic terrorism. It does not seek to apportion blame for what has not been done or not been done quickly enough. Rather, the report is aimed at closing the gap between current levels of emergency preparedness and minimum essential preparedness levels across the United States.
Publisher: Brookings Institution