New York City skyline

NNSS employee spotlight: Michael Corr helped fill mobile counterterrorism training gap with opening of CTOS New York Office

New York City skyline
New York City skyline

As America reflects on the events of Sept. 11, 2001, we not only remember the victims, but the heroes who responded to the terror attacks. Mike Corr is one of those heroes, who at the time of the attack, was a detective in the New York City Police Department (NYPD) Emergency Services Unit assigned to the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorist Task Force.

With a career beginning in the mid-1970s, Corr is no stranger to catastrophes. He responded to many major disasters in the 10 years prior to 9/11, including serving on the search and rescue teams sent to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Hugo in 1989, the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing, the 1995 Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing, the U.S Embassy bombing in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1998 and the 2000 attack on USS Cole in Aden, Yemen.

The morning when the first plane crashed into the North tower at World Trade Center (WTC), Corr would have normally been in his office, just two blocks from the twin towers. A late shift the night before adjusted his normal schedule and, like many of us, Corr heard about the attacks simultaneously from co-workers, family members and headquarters. He did not watch from the sidelines and quickly sprang into action.

Corr arrived at Ground Zero shortly after the South tower fell and quickly began working leads in the FBI’s New York City office. The first 10 days after the attacks were grueling, emotionally draining work, as the number of rescuers who were missing relentlessly increased. He was at Ground Zero every day for a month that followed the attacks. Then, as the mission began its transition to a recovery operation, he spent less and less time at the site. Corr retired from the NYPD in 2002.

Corr became a full-time employee with Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) Counter Terrorism Operations Support (CTOS) when he opened the New York Office in 2003 to meet the rapidly growing demand for mobile training in the Northeastern United States. Through his experience in the nation’s response to the 9/11 attacks, Corr has helped shaped the evolution of the NNSS CTOS program with the development and growth of the Mobile Training Teams.

“There is no one more dedicated to his job and protecting his city than Michael Corr,” said Rhonda Hopkins, former Remote Sensing Laboratory duty manager.

CTOS develops and delivers onsite and online training for emergency responders. It prepares personnel to take immediate, decisive action to prevent or respond to terrorist use of radiological and nuclear WMDs, such as radiation dispersal devices and improvised nuclear devices at the NNSS.

“Training sessions were not designed to be mobile initially, but September 11 quadrupled requests for this specialized training, especially in the Northeastern region, hence the need for a New York office that can deliver cost effective mobile training in the region,” said Corr.

Mobile training sessions offered off-site have an advantage for increased class capacity in that 50-60 first responders can receive the training versus a handful traveling to the Site.

“The department prides itself on going above and beyond, working nights and weekends to provide this unique training to the nation’s first responders and being able to deliver the same high quality of training they would receive on site,” said Elsia Gorden, CTOS schedule coordinator.

More than 280,000 first responders have been trained since 9/11 through direct delivery of CTOS curriculum by U.S. Department of Homeland Security certified instructors, Train-the-Trainer programs and web-based training. A vital resource for this effort was the Secure the Cities program, established after 9/11 when it became abundantly clear there was a scarcity of the equipment for radiological missions in the country’s major metropolitan areas. The program purchases equipment for U.S. cities and conducts large training campaigns for the first responders.