Although different by design, acts of terrorism, active shooter incidents, and complex, coordinated attacks exist and we need to do everything possible to make sure we are as prepared as we can be to respond quickly and strategically.
Attacks like 9/11, Beslan in 2004, Mumbai in 2008, Sandy Hook in 2012, Boston in 2013, Navy Yard in 2013, Nairobi in 2013, LAX in 2013, and the recent terror in Paris in 2015 have no jurisdictional boundaries. These attacks evolve quickly and they often occur with little to no warning. Victims can be anyone, any age or any gender. We know that the M/O will vary. We know that weaponry will vary. We know there is a wide-range of planning tactics from impulsively acting to extensive planning. Given all of these things, how prepared are you to respond?
How often are meetings between law enforcement, fire, EMS, and dispatch taking place in your city?
How often are you meeting to update your response plan?
How are you ensuring that everyone read and understood your response plan?
Are you currently running drills that would prepare you for the types of attacks that occurred in other cities?
Who is involved with those drills?
Do the drills include law enforcement, fire, EMS, and dispatch? Are you taking it a step further and engaging private sector security (e.g. hospital, hotels, etc)?
In order to be truly prepared, city government, dispatch, law enforcement, fire, and EMS need to begin communicating regularly. Stakeholders from each of these disciplines need to have a seat at the table during planning, and they should also participate in training drills.
While funding remains scarce and departmental resources are spread thin, starting the necessary conversations with the key stakeholders is not expensive. Taking time to meet and strategize and document about what your town, city, or region would do is critical for the safety of our first responders and our communities.
The International Public Safety Association recognizes there are gaps to bridge and it is our vision is for a stronger, more integrated public safety community capable of an effective joint response to all public safety incidents. We are actively working on bringing together all stakeholders to have these conversations and making sure the conversations continue as planning and tactics evolve.