LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Emergency planners across the nation must be prepared for what were previously “unthinkable events” similar to the disaster at the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, according to recently released research from University of Louisville professor David Simpson.

    Simpson, associate director of the U of L Center for Hazard Research and Policy Development, studied victim recovery and identification methods used following the World Trade Center towers collapse and made recommendations for responding to future large-scale catastrophes. The National Science Foundation funded the research.

    In the report, Simpson noted that several unique circumstances with the situation – including the extent of the destruction, the ongoing threat of further attacks and the designation of the area simultaneously as a disaster area, crime scene and mass grave – made it necessary to alter the usual processes used for victim recovery and identification.

    Simpson says emergency planners need to anticipate and create logistical mechanisms for dealing with large numbers of casualties and fatalities. He also believes further research should be undertaken to see how the Internet, which played a big role in victim identification at the WTC towers, could best be used in future disasters.

    In late September, Simpson, assistant professor of public and urban affairs, teamed with Steven Stehr, associate professor of political science at Washington State University, and U of L graduate student Nailya Kutzhanova to observe procedures at the Emergency Operations Center, conduct interviews with groups such as the Greater New York Hospital Association and the Center for Animal Care and Control, and visit the disaster site.