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Public Safety Studies on Evacuation of World Trade Center to be Announced at April 8 Community Forum

Forum Sponsored by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and The New York Academy of Medicine

Scientific investigators from Columbia University, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology are conducting comprehensive public safety studies into the evacuation of and emergency response to the World Trade Center (WTC) on September 11, 2001. The goal of these studies is to enhance the safety of occupants in tall buildings by improving understanding of human behavior, improving emergency response capabilities and procedures, and enabling improvements to U.S. building and fire codes, standards, and practices.

These researchers are coordinating their activities with the overarching goal of seeking to improve life safety in the future for building occupants and first responders. Some critical questions surrounding the events of September 11 that the group of researchers will address include:

  • How do specific building design features promote or hinder evacuation of buildings?
  • Can we better enable persons with disabilities to safely evacuate from tall buildings?
  • How do people become aware of their situations and make decisions during a time-constrained evacuation?
  • How can emergency communications in tall buildings be improved to ensure that the occupants and emergency responders have the information they need—in as timely a way as possible—to make the best decisions for themselves and others in need of rescue?
  • What type of training can improve the evacuation of people from buildings?

Principal Investigators from each study will be present to discuss their projects at a community forum on April 8, 2003 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at The New York Academy of Medicine, Room 440, located at 1216 Fifth Avenue (entrance on 103rd St.), New York, NY. Each speaker will briefly describe the objectives, methodologies, and timelines for their work. Former WTC employers, employees who survived the attacks, victims' families and friends, and first responders who were present that morning are strongly encouraged to attend.

Members of the media are invited to a press conference on April 8, 2003 at 4:00 p.m. at the New York Academy of Medicine, Room 440, located at 1216 Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street, New York, NY, when principal researchers will briefly describe each study and answer questions about their studies. Members of the media are welcome to remain for the community public forum which will begin at 5:30 p.m.

BECAUSE SPACE IS LIMITED, MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA MUST RSVP to Stephanie Berger at the Mailman School of Public Health, 212-305-5365; sb2247 [at] (sb2247[at]columbia[dot]edu). If you are unable to attend, Dr. Robyn Gershon, principal investigator of the Columbia University study, will be available for interviews. Please call 212-305-4372/5365 to arrange.

Call (212) 305-1186, email wtc-evacuation [at] (wtc-evacuation[at]columbia[dot]edu), or visit

For directions to the forum, visit

We look forward to the opportunity to listen to the WTC community and hope you will join us for this important forum.

World Trade Center Homepage

Released March 24, 2003, Updated January 7, 2021