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AFTER 9/11: Do Americans feel safer?
by Shelby Capacio -
A lot of security improvements have gone into effect in the last 12 years, but many are wondering if Americans feel any safer in light of the changes.
Many minds answer that question in terms of terrorism, but in almost every respect, the emergency events that are not terrorism-related are where the impact of 9/11 can be seen.
The images of what occurred 12 years ago are still clear in the memories of Americans, and they beg a question over whether citizens are more secure now.
"I feel secure, but I don't know if I feel more secure," Mike O'Neill admitted as he prepared to fly to New York.
Outside airports and borders, many lessons on disaster response and preparation have been learned.
"It doesn't matter if it's a terrorist attack, it's an industrial accident, a transportation accident or a natural disaster," Joe Kelly, director of Minnesota Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said. "The effects on the people are the same."
According to Kelly, the attacks on the twin towers led to dramatically improved disaster response in Minnesota. One dramatic example is the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge.
Unlike the first responders in New York, Minneapolis police, firefighters and crews from the Department of Public Safety were able to communicate on 800MHz radios to vastly improve their coordination.
"Everybody in the region that responded to that, they were all on the same radio system," he explained. "They didn't have to worry about matching frequencies. They didn't have to worry about call signs. They didn't have to worry about interference and calls being dropped."
Disaster coordination has improved in other ways as well. Kelly said better planning made response more efficient when last winter's ice storm pounded southwestern Minnesota and when spring thunderstorms destroyed metro neighborhoods.
Much of the work done by the Federal Emergency Management Agency isn't highly publicized. For example, FEMA was in the Twin Cities on Wednesday to plan critical infrastructure protection for power plants, cell phone towers and communication centers.