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Profile: Peter LaPorte
Peter LaPorte was a participant or observer in the following events:
Peter LaPorte. [Source: Executive Affairs Group]Officials consider a scenario in which a terrorist chemical attack occurs in Washington, DC. Local officials, along with members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), come up with “a scenario in which terrorists release poison gas at hot dog stands, one at 17th and D Streets NW and one on the Mall near the Museum of American History,” the Washington Post will later describe. Whether they do this as part of a training exercise will be unstated. As they envisage the scenario, the officials successfully predict the public’s behavior on September 11, when traffic in Washington will be clogged as workers head home in response to the live television reports of the terrorist attacks. The FEMA members and Peter LaPorte, director of the DC Emergency Management Agency, determine, after considering the scenario, that if a terrorist attack occurs, the public must be given information within an hour of the incident so as to knock down rumors, explain the fastest routes out of the city, and identify areas to avoid. They suggest that authorities should make use of the Washington Area Warning System, which is a mechanism for providing emergency communications to officials in the Washington area during a crisis, or hold a news conference immediately. However, on September 11, the first news conference in Washington will take place more than three hours after the first hijacked plane crashes into the World Trade Center. Following the simulation, LaPorte and the FEMA members will urge that a plan be created, which outlines how the Washington area should respond to a terrorist incident and efforts to create such a plan will then get underway. However, since the plan’s intended date of completion is spring 2002, it will not be ready to be implemented on September 11. “It’s clear these [emergency response] things didn’t happen [on September 11] because we didn’t have a plan,” Bruce Baughman, director of FEMA’s planning and readiness division, will complain in the days after 9/11. [Washington Post, 9/17/2001]
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