Staring at a TV screen carrying images of the World Trade Center's south tower burning on September 11, 2001, James Schwartz swung into action because of "cynicism".
"Foresight" would perhaps better describe the quick thinking of the Arlington County Fire Department chief, who began assembling units even before the Pentagon was hit.
Mr Shwartz, in Perth to speak at Australasia's annual emergency services conference, told of his reaction that had him controlling the scene within 10 minutes.
"Call it cynicism . . . when I looked at those first images of the airplane at the WTC it looked very much like an intentional act," he said.