Where were you on 9/11? Disaster Preparedness

Where were you on Tuesday, 9/11/2001? I was on a flight to Orlando for the ENA conference. My flight departed at 9:00am after the first plane flew into the twin towers, but the pilot quickly returned to the airport after all flights were grounded. I knew disaster management basics before that day but learned so much in those next few years, including disaster triage, decontamination, evacuation, and sheltering in place.

Disaster management is organized into a four-phase, ongoing process including mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Completing a hazardous vulnerability analysis (HVA) to minimize the impact of an event is part of mitigation. Preparedness involves being ready for the situations identified in the HVA. A crucial aspect of preparedness is conducting education, disaster drills, and full-scale exercises. Response includes disaster triage to do “the greatest good for the greatest number.” Several models of disaster triage have been developed, including Simple Triage and rapid Treatment (START) and Sort-Assess-Lifesaving Interventions-Treatment and/or transport (SALT). Recovery centers on restoration to normal day-to-day function.

Are you prepared for the next disaster, natural or man-made? See resources below and remember disaster preparedness questions are part of the CEN, TCRN, and CPEN exam blueprint outlines.


1. Emergency Nurses Association (ENA). Emergency Nursing Pediatric Course, 5th ed., Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2020.

2. Emergency Nurses Association (ENA). Trauma Nursing Core Curriculum, 8th ed., 2019.

3. Sheehy, S. Sheehy’s Manual of Emergency Care, 7th ed. Elsevier, 2013.