Why Was Boston Strong? Lessons from the Boston Marathon Bombing

EMS Responders Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government released today a study on response efforts following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, entitled “Why Was Boston Strong? Lessons from the Boston Marathon Bombing.” The report “identifies strengths of the response as well as areas for improvement,” with a focus on conditions of “command” and “coordination” within and among response organizations. It is intended to help response organizations nationwide improve preparation for emergencies at both “fixed” and “no-notice” events.

Based on a series of “intensive” interviews with senior law enforcement leaders, emergency management, and emergency medical organizations, the report finds that “emergency response following the bombing in Boston and the events in Cambridge and Watertown at the end of the week were shaped to a substantial degree by the multi-dimensional preparedness of the region.”

While emergency response to the bombings was strong in some areas, the authors maintain that there are other areas of command and coordination in need to improvement. The report identifies four main areas of weakness (strategic command, tactical/local command, public communication, and preparation for future crises) and offers recommendations for improvement.

The following are a select few of the report’s recommendations:

  • “Senior leaders should participate in a unified command at the strategic level and avoid being pulled back into making tactical decisions and directly overseeing basic operations.
  • Response organizations must develop procedures and practices to better control ‘self-deployment’ by individual personnel to the scene of emergency action.
  • Maintaining regular and open communication with the public – through traditional and social media – should be a high priority for senior officials, even when confidential investigations are ongoing.
  • Robust development, practice, exercise, and application of incident management processes and skills (codified in the NIMS [National Incident Management] system) greatly enhance the ability of emergency responders to operate in complex, multi-organizational, cross-jurisdictional crises.”

For additional reports on the Boston Marathon bombings, check out last week’s blog post: New Releases on Boston Bombings: Counterterrorism Lessons-Learned & Death of Ibragim Todashev.

Article formerly posted at https://www.hsdl.org/blog/newpost/view/em-why-em-was-boston-strong-lessons-from-the-boston-marathon-bombing

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