By Heather R. Cotter, IPSA Executive Director
The global public safety community has witnessed, directly and through news reports, a tremendous amount of violence. It is just absolutely devastating to see these events unfold before us.
Today there was a mass casualty shooting at a workplace in Orlando, Florida. Investigators believe this atrocity is from a disgruntled employee.
Over the weekend, we learned about the London Bridge terrorist attack – in which a vehicle was used as a weapon. Several innocents lost their lives and many were injured. Then there was a second incident at the Borough Market in which the attackers were using knives as weapons.
In May, there was a suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester – another mass casualty incident in which 22 perished.
An unpredictable environment
When the unpredictable happens, our first responders must be fully prepared to respond – whether it’s a single incident or a complex, coordinated attack.
Law enforcement, firefighters, EMS, telecommunicators, transportation, hospitals, emergency management and allied emergency responders are relying on their training, standard operating procedures and an effective incident command to get through the chaos while protecting the lives of citizens and keeping themselves safe from harm.
While on scene, it is often unknown whether all the suspects have been identified and captured. It is unknown how many victims are injured. It is unknown whether another incident is going to occur in a nearby location. The work our first responders perform during these high-risk operations, and in an unpredictable environment, is admirable. It takes exceptional human beings to work at ground zero.
First responders – whether they are in the United States or the United Kingdom – are operating under tremendous amount of stress while any attack unfolds. This stress continues even during the aftermath.
What we can learn from these recent mass casualty attacks is that weaponry, type of incident, locations, geography, attackers’ demographics and time of day all varies.
Given this, we must continue to provide education, tools, resources and share our after-action debriefings and lessons learned with one another. Globally, agencies, trainers and organizations must apply those lessons learned in training because the reality we face is these attacks can happen anywhere at any time.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, families, friends and colleagues of the innocents whose lives were devastated by these recent attacks.