On July 7, 2014, I was a guest at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum
in New York City. My visit was simultaneously profound, humbling, and painful as I relived memories of my professional response role during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
At 8:45 a.m. on September 11, 2001, an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Eighteen minutes after the first plane hit, a second Boeing 767—United Airlines Flight 175—sliced into the south tower near the 60th floor. As millions watched the events unfolding in New York, American Airlines Flight 77 circled over downtown Washington, D.C., and slammed into the west side of the Pentagon military headquarters at 9:45 a.m. Meanwhile, a fourth California-bound plane—United Flight 93—was hijacked about 40 minutes after leaving Newark International Airport in New Jersey. This hijacking ultimately crashed in a rural field in western Pennsylvania at 10:10 a.m.
On September 11, 2001 I served in a professional role for a different organization. In this role I provided guidance, direction, and support for professional responders during high-profile crisis events throughout the world. This was my job at several locations throughout the United States on 9/11/2001 and for many months afterward.
I was also a CPI Certified Instructor and had taught various CPI training programs to other professionals for many years. I felt indebted to the Crisis Prevention Institute on September 11, 2001. CPI’s simple and clear protocols, techniques, and skills constantly ran through my mind as I carried out my responsibilities that day and in the following months.
This often surprises people. Many people think that CPI’s concepts and skills exclusively apply to violence. In general, I did not respond to violence relative to the September 11th
It is true that we prepare our participants to prevent, respond to, and appropriately follow up violent events. Despite these specific focus areas, the concepts and skills we teach can be adapted to a vast variety of crisis responses.
A crisis involves a situation or event that is experienced or perceived as an intolerable difficulty that may exceed typically available resources, personnel, procedures, and coping mechanisms. Many types of crisis situations can occur in the workplace. These range from medical-, legal-, financial-, and weather-related emergencies to hazardous materials spills, equipment failure, property impairment, and even extremely irrational internal or external customers.
During my career, I have been privileged to be of service during almost every conceivable type of crisis. I have always found my CPI training indispensable in any crisis.
CPI training has taught me that crisis response plans should provide direction to involved stakeholders during and after a crisis event. Plans should include procedures for the rapid identification of potentially harmful situations and the methods for responding to situations quickly and efficiently. During crisis situations, simple and clear guidelines for directing our decisions and actions work best.
CPI’s simple and clear models and protocols have helped me to easily keep my mind focused and my thinking organized during any crisis response. The training always reminded me of the many reasons for the importance of follow-up after a crisis.
All of these factors came to mind as I toured the memorial, the museum, and the surrounding neighborhood on July 7, 2014. I still feel indebted to CPI for all of the lessons I continue to learn from our training programs. It is an honor for me to now be of service to CPI.
The National September 11 Memorial is a tribute of remembrance and honor to the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center site, near Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993.
The National September 11 Memorial Museum serves as the country’s principal institution for examining the implications of the events of 9/11, documenting the impact of those events and exploring the continuing significance of September 11, 2001.
The Museum honors the nearly 3,000 victims of these attacks and all those who risked their lives to save others. It further recognizes the thousands who survived and all who demonstrated extraordinary compassion in the aftermath.
Visit the National September 11 Memorial and Museum website