Arlington Preparedness: Lessons Learned Since Sept. 11

Published on September 06, 2016

Recognized as a "model for the nation" in its response to the terror attack on the Pentagon, Arlington's public safety teams have never stopped learning.

Today County staff and crews continue to refine and expand their vital set of skills. As a result, Arlington is better prepared than ever for any sort of emergency.
Over the past 15 years, County preparedness has advanced through:


  • Collaboration: Arlington has expanded its collaborative approach to include regional partners, agencies across County government and volunteers. Teams plan for and train regularly for emergencies with federal, military, state, private and non-profit organizations, Reagan National Airport and Metro. County public safety agencies work with public health, technology services and other County government agencies that have critical safety roles.

  • Improved technology and equipment: The County's 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center has expanded since 2001, with improvements that ensure calls are processed quickly and accurately, including Text-to-9-1-1. ConnectArlington, the County's fiber-optic network, has boosted voice/video and data network's capacity, vastly improving reliability and recoverability, and enabling the use of critical cloud-based applications. Arlington first responders now have access to an ambulance bus, mass casualty support units and other improved tools.

  • Robust planning: With an expansion of Arlington's Office of Emergency Management (OEM), its Emergency Operations Center has been activated more than 100 times since 2001. OEM continuously trains more than 200 County emergency support personnel and more than 1,000 affiliated volunteers annually, with an "all hazards" approach to ensure an effective response to any emergency. Arlington Public Health was the first in Virginia to be recognized by the National Association of County and City Health Officials for meeting national criteria for managing public health emergencies.

  • Extensive training: The Arlington County Police Department regularly trains with the Arlington County Fire Department on the Rescue Task Force concept, deploying together in active shooter incidents. The concept, introduced in Arlington County, has become nationally recognized and Arlington emergency leadership routinely provides guidance on the system to officials across the country.

  • More information, in more ways: Arlington continues to expand the way it provides critical information to people during emergencies, including Arlington Alert, social media, 1700 AM Arlington and low-power WERA 96.7 FM.

Residents Have a Vital Role


September is National Preparedness Month but any day of the year is the right time to review or improve your family's plan of action in the event of an emergency.

Remembering 15 Years Later


On Thursday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. at Kenmore Middle School, Arlington's Emergency Preparedness Advisory Commission will host moderator Doug Kammerer of NBC4, Deputy County Manager James Schwartz and retired Maj. Gen. James Jackson for a discussion of the events and aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001.

On Sunday, Sept. 11 at 9:30 a.m. at Courthouse Plaza, Arlington County will hold an official wreath-laying marking 15 years since the 2001 terror attacks.