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EVENTS

New York City’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM), which is located in World Trade Center Building 7, organizes a bio-terrorism drill where militant extremists attack the city with bubonic plague and Manhattan is quarantined. The “tabletop exercise” is called RED Ex—meaning “Recognition, Evaluation, and Decision-Making Exercise” —and involves about seventy different entities, agencies, and locales from the New York area. Federal legislation adopted in 1997 requires federal, state, and local authorities to conduct regular exercises as part of the Domestic Preparedness Program (DPP). The US Defense Department chose New York City as the venue for RED Ex due to its size, prominence, and level of emergency preparedness. Various high-level officials take part, including Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, OEM Director Richard Sheirer, Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen, and Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik. Agencies and organizations that participate include New York City Fire Department, New York City Police Department, the FBI, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The exercise is supposedly so intense that, according to one participant, “five minutes into that drill, everybody forgot it was a drill.” (Mindel and Higgins 5/11/2001; New York City Government 9/5/2001, pp. 74 pdf file; Miner 12/20/2003; 9/11 Commission 5/18/2004) According to OEM Director Richard Sheirer, “Operation RED Ex provided a proving ground and a great readiness training exercise for the many challenges the city routinely faces, such as weather events, heat emergencies, building collapses, fires, and public safety and health issues.” (Mindel and Higgins 5/11/2001) In his prepared testimony before the 9/11 Commission, Bernard Kerik later states: “The City, through its OEM, had coordinated plans for many types of emergencies; and those plans were tested frequently.” The types of emergencies they prepared for, he states, included “building collapses” and “plane crashes.” (9/11 Commission 5/18/2004 pdf file) Considering Richard Sheirer’s comments, RED Ex appears to be one example where the city tests for building collapses. Details about training for airplanes crashing into New York City remain unknown. The second part of this exercise, called Tripod, is scheduled to take place in New York on September 12, 2001, but is cancelled due to the 9/11 attacks.

Personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) arrive in New York for a forthcoming training exercise and, as a result, their equipment is available to be used by members of the New York Police Department’s Emergency Service Unit (ESU) who are involved in search and rescue operations at Ground Zero the following day. (Appel 2009, pp. 195-196) The FEMA representatives are among hundreds of people scheduled to take part in a terrorism training exercise on September 12 that is being organized by the New York City Office of Emergency Management (see September 12, 2001). The exercise, called “Tripod,” is set to take place at Pier 92 on the Hudson River. (Griscom 10/15/2001; City of New York 5/22/2002; 9/11 Commission 5/19/2004)
FEMA Personnel Set Up Equipment for Exercise - The FEMA personnel arrive in New York at some time on September 10 and begin setting up their equipment at Pier 92 for the forthcoming exercise, according to a book by NYPD police officer Anthea Appel. (Appel 2009, pp. 195) It is unclear which specific FEMA personnel arrive in New York on this day. The first FEMA urban search and rescue teams to respond at Ground Zero will arrive in New York late at night on September 11 (see (10:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001). (Friel 9/1/2002; Endrikat 10/1/2002) And most of the senior FEMA staff is currently in Montana, attending a conference (see September 8-11, 2001). (Nagy 9/13/2001; DeMers 10/2001 pdf file)
FEMA Equipment Used by Emergency Responders on 9/11 - In response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, according to Appel, the FEMA equipment that is being set up at Pier 92 for the exercise will be packed up and moved to Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, where the ESU sets up a command post. Then, at around 5:00 p.m., it will be moved to the site of the collapsed World Trade Center towers, to be used by ESU officers involved in the search and rescue efforts there. (McKinsey & Company 8/19/2002 pdf file; Appel 2009, pp. 195-196)

New York City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) set up at Pier 92 on the Hudson River following the 9/11 attacks.New York City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) set up at Pier 92 on the Hudson River following the 9/11 attacks. [Source: ArcNews]At Pier 92 on the Hudson River, preparations are underway for a training exercise due to take place there the following day. The exercise, called Tripod, which had been scheduled months earlier, is intended to test how well New York’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) can administer treatment in response to a biological-terrorism attack (see September 12, 2001). (Griscom 10/15/2001; Giuliani 2002, pp. 355) Pier 92, located just over four miles north-northwest of the World Trade Center, has been set up as a model distribution station where the simulated victims will be treated. (Jenkins and Edwards-Winslow 9/2003, pp. 15 and 20 pdf file) Ken Longert, the owner of a theatrical lighting business, arrives at the pier at 7:00 a.m. to help get the place ready for the exercise. He will later recall, “Two or three hundred cadets [presumably with the New York police and fire departments] were there, learning the proper procedures in case some kind of disaster hit New York.” Longert will recall that, seconds after the second WTC tower is hit at 9:03, “all the people from OEM disappeared” from the pier. (DiMarco 2007, pp. 457-458) After OEM’s original command center is destroyed when WTC 7—where it is located—collapses (see (5:20 p.m.) September 11, 2001), Pier 92 will be selected as the location for the substitute command center. (9/11 Commission 5/19/2004) Members of OEM staff have also arrived early this morning at the OEM offices in WTC 7 to prepare for the exercise (see (Shortly After 8:46 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Jenkins and Edwards-Winslow 9/2003, pp. 15 pdf file)

John Odermatt.John Odermatt. [Source: Queens Gazette]New York City’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) activates its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on the 23rd floor of World Trade Center Building 7. The OEM is responsible for managing the city’s response to major incidents, including terrorist attacks. (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 283-284, 293) Its personnel arrived at WTC 7, where it has offices, early this morning to prepare for Tripod, a major biological terrorism training exercise scheduled for September 12 (see September 12, 2001). (Jenkins and Edwards-Winslow 9/2003, pp. 15 pdf file)
Staffer Is Told to Open the Operations Center - OEM Commissioner John Odermatt and Richard Bylicki, a police sergeant assigned to the OEM, heard the explosion when Flight 11 crashed into the WTC, at 8:46 a.m. (see 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001). As they look out of the window at the burning North Tower, Odermatt debriefs Bylicki and instructs him to open the EOC for a fully staffed operation. Bylicki therefore sets about activating the operations center. (Bylicki 6/19/2003)
Staffers Call Agencies and Tell Them to Send Their Representatives - EOC personnel start contacting agencies, including the New York Fire and Police Departments and the Department of Health, and instruct them to send their designated representatives to the center. They also call the State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which they ask to send at least five federal urban search and rescue teams. (9/11 Commission 5/18/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 293) Meanwhile, Bylicki helps the OEM’s Watch Command handle an “enormous influx” of phone calls, many of which are from senior city officials. (Bylicki 6/19/2003)
Activation Proceeds without Any Problems - EOC personnel initially struggle to make sense of what has happened at the Twin Towers. (Wachtendorf 2004, pp. 77) However, the activation apparently proceeds without any problems. Firefighter Timothy Brown, a supervisor at the OEM, is instructed by Calvin Drayton, a deputy director with the OEM, to go up to the 23rd floor of WTC 7 and make sure that personnel are getting the EOC up and running, and the Watch Command is being properly supervised. He goes up to the 23rd floor and first checks the Watch Command. He sees that its supervisor, Mike Lee, has things under control. Then, in the EOC, he sees Michael Berkowitz, a supervisor with the OEM, powering up all the computers and television screens necessary to handle the emergency, and beginning to notify the dozens of agencies that need to send representatives to the center. Berkowitz tells Brown he has the manpower he needs to get the center up and running. “I was very comfortable that OEM was beginning to do what we do in a major emergency,” Brown will later recall. Activating the EOC is something OEM personnel have “drilled for and drilled for and drilled for… and so we were very good at it,” he will comment. (Brown 1/15/2002; Brown 6/30/2002 pdf file; Brown 1/31/2003)
Center Is Designed for Managing a Crisis - The EOC, which opened in 1999 (see June 8, 1999), is a state-of-the-art facility designed to operate as a stand-alone center from which the city government can operate during a crisis. (City of New York 2/18/2001) It is one of the most sophisticated facilities of its type in the world. It includes a communications suite, a conference room, a press briefing room, and a large number of staff offices, and has numerous computer-equipped workstations. (Kendra and Wachtendorf 3/2003 pdf file) It has enough seating for 68 agencies to operate during an emergency. (City of New York 2/18/2001) However, it will be evacuated at 9:30 a.m. due to reports of further unaccounted-for planes, according to the 9/11 Commission Report (see (9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 305) Other accounts will indicate that it may be evacuated at an earlier time, possibly even before the second crash at the WTC occurs (see (Soon After 8:46 a.m.-9:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (Shortly Before 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001).

Before 9/11, New York City was scheduled to have a major terrorism training exercise on this day, in a large commercial warehouse on the Hudson River. Called Tripod, it was intended to test how well the city’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) could administer treatment in the event of a biological-terrorism attack. More than 1,000 Police Academy cadets and Fire Department trainees were recruited to act the parts of terrified civilians afflicted with a range of medical conditions. Various individuals were invited to watch, including Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the police and fire commissioners, and representatives of the FBI and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Presumably many have already arrived for the exercise when the 9/11 attacks occur (see 7:00 a.m. -9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001). Because Pier 92, where Tripod was due to take place, has been set up ready for the exercise, OEM staff are able to move there and quickly convert it into a large emergency operations center when their original command center (in WTC Building 7) is evacuated and later destroyed during 9/11. Thus, within 31 hours of the attacks, OEM has a functional facility able to manage the search and rescue effort, just four miles north-northwest of the WTC site. (Griscom 10/15/2001; Jenkins and Edwards-Winslow 9/2003, pp. 20 pdf file; 9/11 Commission 5/19/2004) Tripod is the follow-up to a previous training exercise in New York, called RED Ex (see May 11, 2001). (Miner 12/20/2003) Due to the 9/11 attacks, Tripod is called off, but will eventually take place on May 22, 2002. (City of New York 5/22/2002)

Henry Jackson.Henry Jackson. [Source: Henry Jackson]New York City’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) opens a new operations center at Pier 92 on the Hudson River after World Trade Center Building 7, where its original Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was located, collapsed on the afternoon of September 11 (see (5:20 p.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 4/7/2004; Ridgeway 1/28/2008) The original EOC, on the 23rd floor of WTC 7, was evacuated at around 9:30 a.m. on September 11 (see (9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 305; Ridgeway 1/28/2008) The OEM command bus initially served as the office’s command post (see (Shortly After 9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001) and then, that afternoon, an alternate EOC was established at the New York City Police Academy (see (2:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). (Jenkins and Edwards-Winslow 9/2003, pp. 20 pdf file; Wachtendorf 2004, pp. 76; 9/11 Commission 4/7/2004)
New Operations Center Is Set Up at the Site of a Planned Exercise - However, it was soon realized that the location was too small for the OEM’s needs. OEM Director Richard Sheirer suggested that a new EOC should therefore be set up at Pier 92 and the decision was made to do this. Pier 92 was chosen because it was going to be the site of a training exercise on September 12 called Tripod, which would test how well the OEM could administer treatments in response to a biological terrorism attack (see September 12, 2001). Consequently, equipment was already there that could be used in a replacement EOC. Henry Jackson, deputy director for administration at the OEM, was given the order to build the new facility at 8:00 a.m. on September 12 and by the end of the day, 150 people were helping to set it up. (Griscom 10/15/2001; 9/11 Commission 4/7/2004; 9/11 Commission 4/20/2004; 9/11 Commission 5/19/2004) The new EOC is operational by September 14. OEM representatives are instructed to report to it for the 6:00 p.m. shift that day. (Wachtendorf 2004, pp. 76)
Facility Is Organized Like the Original Operations Center - The new operations center is arranged just like the original EOC in WTC 7. OEM and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials sit on a raised platform known as “command and control,” surrounded by 10 sections, which each represent a particular task, such as law enforcement, debris removal, transportation, and infrastructure. (Griscom 10/15/2001; Wachtendorf 2004, pp. 94) The facility is equipped with networked computers, telephones, fax machines, photocopiers, and supplies. A media briefing area, from which Mayor Rudolph Giuliani will hold regular press conferences, is created near the back of the facility. (Wachtendorf 2004, pp. 88-89)
Facility Is Much Larger than the Original Operations Center - The facility is about 125,000 square feet in size, making it around two and a half to three times larger than the original EOC in WTC 7. (Giuliani 2002, pp. 355; 9/11 Commission 5/19/2004) More organizations with more representatives have desks there than could have been accommodated at the original EOC. (Wachtendorf 2004, pp. 105) Eventually, 175 agencies will be represented there. (Jenkins and Edwards-Winslow 9/2003, pp. 20 pdf file) One senior OEM official will in fact remark that, even if the smaller original EOC in WTC 7 had survived on September 11, unlike the replacement facility, it would have lacked the capacity to manage the city’s response to the 9/11 attacks. (Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research 10/2002 pdf file)
New Operations Center Has Extensive Security - The new EOC is four miles north-northwest of the WTC site. (Jenkins and Edwards-Winslow 9/2003, pp. 20 pdf file) Workers there can easily be transported to and from Ground Zero by boat or by the West Side Highway. (Giuliani 2002, pp. 355) Considerable security is provided, as the facility is regarded as a likely target for any further terrorist attacks. Armed snipers are positioned on the roof, soldiers with automatic weapons guard the street-side entrances, and armed patrol boats keep watch from the river. (ArcNews 12/2001; Wachtendorf 2004, pp. 105) The EOC will be located at Pier 92 until February 2002, when the OEM will move its operations to a facility in Brooklyn. (Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research 10/2002 pdf file)

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