Terrorist Attack Damage Assessments

Assessment is an important step in facilitating recovery after terrorist attack (McEntire, 2008). Damage assessment is the process of conducting a survey of physical destruction, fatalities, economic losses and the disruptions that have been caused by the attack. Damage assessments take the forms of rapid, preliminary and technical assessments. Rapid assessments seek to determine the scope of damage with the purpose of identification of the needs to be done. Preliminary assessment is conducted by state and federal officials and seeks to provide a detailed assessment of the terrorist scene. The technical assessment is conducted by experts such as insurance agents and engineers to determine the course of action for rebuilding process. Since damage assessment involves survey of the area of attack to ascertain the extent of damages and losses, these assessments must consider certain concerns.

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            The assessment process can be a dangerous process to be undertaken, owing to the nature of attack and the materials present in the scene (McEntire, 2008). Some damages could result in huge debris, which may create potential source of danger to those undertaking assessment or make it hard to walk through the site. For instance, an attack on a building may leave behind broken glass and sharp metal, which is hazardous to those walking in the site to conduct assessment. The assessment team must consider such objects and determine the best assessment strategy.

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In addition, the assessment team should ascertain the nature of materials and possible dangers that such object could pose to them and the people and adopt appropriate equipment. For instance, an attack in a building could result in huge debris, which may hinder rescue or even make it dangerous to conduct effective rescues. Huge debris may burry people or could pose potential source of danger to the rescue team since they could be weak, which may easily fall if rescue team drives over them or possibly climb over them during the survey process.

            The other major source of concern during damage assessment is training and equipment needed for the effective assessment. Damages vary in types and magnitudes, which pose varying challenges in the assessment process. A huge bomb attack on a building can create large debris fall, causing great property damage making the attack scene difficult to assess through driving in or walking through it. In addition, such an attack could leave behind potentially risky items such as unexploded bombs and other explosive devices. Depending on the nature and magnitude of attack, it is important that appropriate equipment be employed. The assessment team should ask such questions as; “is driving over the scene safe and possible? If no, is it safe and possible to just walk and make assessments or survey over the scene using aerial means is the best means?   Also, the damage assessment should be performed by well trained personnel, who are inept at handling the nature of damage caused. Some attacks require trained experts in certain field. For example, a bomb attack requires bomb experts to conduct the damage assessment and determine if the scene is safe.

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Some attacks that occur on buildings can destroy them completely. However, some less fatal attacks can cause minimal damages, which may still make such buildings habitable. Regardless of the nature of attack, it is important that the buildings or property be determined if it is fit for human use and to determine the rebuilding process. Such concerns should be addressed by trained professionals such as construction engineers, insurance agents, environmental experts and land surveyors. Buildings that are deemed inhabitable may need to be demolished, while others may need additional assessments.

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