The people of Boston are to be congratulated for being the critical partner in responding to a disaster and apprehending a terrorist who killed 4 and injured nearly 200 of their neighbors and guests. When I served as as the Community Preparedness Coordinator for Miami-Dade County, Fl I educated and motivated the public to prepare their households before a disaster, and developed communication capabilities to engage them to respond when one occurred. The shelter in place (SIP) direction by local and state officials was no different than a hurricane evacuation order which requires that educated, motivated public to recognize the danger and calmly act.
The public did an outstanding job in responding to this incident highlighted by:
• Volunteers who disregarded their safety and ran to the blast areas to save lives.
• Marathoners running to hospitals to donate blood.
• Uploading 3 Terabits of digital images, video and background information to law enforcement agencies.
• An injured victim who identified the Tsarnaev brothers.
• Empty streets on a bright spring day that allowed law enforcement to conduct and successfully conclude a suspect search.
• Social media postings that were informative, asserted the strength of Bostonians including re-assuring humor even in the face of imminent danger. I tweeted that there was 1 finish line and 2 races; the first race was the marathon, the second was the race to respond to the incident which started within seconds of the 2nd explosion.
The public officials exhibited firm, calm leadership and were able to engage the public as a full partner. Public safety officials were transparent in their communication with the public and thoughtful in their timing as their race to catch the Tsarnaev brothers received global scrutiny. We are fortunate that our Nation has only had limited domestic terrorism incidents. The responses have been at times punctuated by rushes to judgment that impacted civil liberties, ruined reputations, and derailed investigations. It is unprecedented in the USA to implement sheltering in place for over a million people. I’m sure that there was a lot of thought went into it, and the decision was made quickly. The imposition, the economic impact, and the unfamiliarity with being restricted to your home are not something that Americans are used to.
Bostonians are to be congratulated for working with the officials they elected to respond to this heinous incident. They are a model for the rest of our communities when they have to run this public safety marathon themselves. And they will have to.
Bill DelGrosso has over 2 decades of experience in public and private sector response operations, and continuity strategy development. He is also the Vice-Chair of the Emergency Management Professional Organization for Women's Enrichment (www.empower-women.com)