Political, Social, Economic, and Legal Issues of the Oklahoma City Bombing


The Oklahoma City bombing was a domestic terrorist bomb attack on the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Downtown Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995 (Larson, Metzger & Cahn, 2006). The bombing killed 168 people and injured more than 680 others causing damages estimated at $624 million. Extensive search and rescue efforts aimed at saving the victims were made. Within only 90 minutes after the bombing incident, the perpetrator of the horrendous act, Timothy McVeigh, was arrested (Larson, Metzger, & Cahn, 2006). Many factors have contributed to the quick response in the Oklahoma City bombing; therefore, this paper examines the political, social, economic, and legal issues of the Oklahoma City bombing.

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Political Factors

The response to the bombing by the rescue agencies was so timely and organized that in 23 minutes after the attack, the State Emergencies Operations Center (SEOC) was set up. It consisted of the representatives from the state departments of public safety, human services, military, health, and education. Other agencies such as the National Weather Service, the Air Force, the Civil Air Patrol, and the American Red Cross assisted the SEOC (Davis, 2005). With all these agencies on the scene, some plan had to be devised to avoid any confusion. Smooth cooperation and action coordination were the primary tasks of the SEOC. With the assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the SEOC was in charge of the operations on the ground. This strategy ensured some stability in the otherwise panic-stricken environment. Moreover, FEMA is the agency that is tasked with not only coordinating and monitoring all the emergency response activities but also training other emergency response entities, and evaluating them. Therefore, at that moment, all other agencies had to stray their protocols, adopt and follow the unified lead, and work together as a single unit; otherwise, the risks of aggravating the situation would be even higher. The high number of agencies on the ground might have posed a challenge in terms of communication, but this issue was solved by the SEOC. Certain federal rules and regulations compel all organizations to use some common terminologies; thus, in the case of such a situation, there is no communication barrier and working together is easy and effective (Nakonezny, Reddick, & Rodgers 2004).

Social Factors

In the bombing, innocent children were killed and injured. The survived were in a state of shock still trying to understand what had happened. According to Lewis (2000), the rescue teams had to deal with such situations as soon as possible. Therefore, the professionals were called in to cater for the traumatized patients and console those who had lost friends and beloved ones. Numerous sites for the blood donations were opened up, and citizens came to help. Those who were around the accident scene did their best to help the rescue teams without interfering their operations; for example, some provided their personal cars for transporting the injured to hospitals.

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The teams were so organized that within the first hour, 50 people were rescued. The EMS command post created after the attack oversaw the triage, treatment, transportation, and decontamination of the victims. The plan at this point was very simple and clear and aimed to involve more personnel and supplies to meet the growing number of patients. The injured had to be treated and transported to any nearby hospital as soon as possible while the dead were to be moved to a temporary location. The vulnerable groups, mostly the children, were quickly catered for to avoid the life-long traumas and mitigate the shock. Those who had lost relatives or friends were being counseled on site while the injured were treated and transported to the hospitals. Consequently, this strategy helped the vulnerable groups come to terms with what had just happened.

Economic Factors

For all the arrangements for the search and rescue teams to be made effective, money had to be readily available for any need in terms of the bombing effects. The FEMA was responsible for the funding as it usually was in similar disasters. In such a manner, setting up the sites for counseling and rescue operations was commenced almost immediately after the incident. Without such funds, it would have been next to impossible to carry out the mission successfully (Larson, Metzger, & Cahn, 2006). At that moment, all available resources were directed to resolving the situation. Any personnel that could be engaged were sent to help, and all hospitals around were ready to admit numerous patients. The resources needed were made quickly available to avoid any additional deaths.

Processes and Regulations Involved in the Legal Decisions

The FEMA is legally obliged to take charge in the situations of this nature. They have developed a system known as the Incident Command System that is used for the coordination of the emergency response. According to Wright (2007), a set of personnel, policies, procedures, facilities, and equipment were integrated into a common organizational structure designed to improve the emergency response operations of all types and complexities. This system, thus, is the focal point and the reference when it comes to the disaster management; it was also the system used when decisions, whether legal or others, were to be made after the Oklahoma bombing in order to follow a certain procedure when carrying out the rescue operations. Therefore, the authorities involved were all reading from the same script when it came to the execution of plans.

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The political, social, economic, and legal factors, which had affected the Oklahoma bombing were all well managed for a positive result. It is clear that without the coordination of all agencies working together, this event would have been an exercise in futility, which would have probably led to more deaths. The people also did their part to help rescue the affected. Just as any other catastrophe, the Oklahoma City bombing experienced challenges that resulted from a number of factors, such as the ones highlighted above.

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