3 Things Cities Can Do Ahead of Bombings in Public Places

Municipalities can review EMS protocols, plan public safety response and establish communications plans for bombings and attacks at mass gatherings.

After bombings like the one that took place at an Ariana Grande concert last night at the Manchester, England, Arena, or the coordinated attacks in 2015 in Paris or at Mumbai in 2008, it behooves municipal leaders to focus energy and resources on emergency preparedness.

EMS teams can do threat assessments for mass gathering venues, and there are critical public safety and communications planning tasks essential for municipal governments to get ahead of.

#1 Review EMS Protocols for Bombings at Mass Gathering 

According to a rapid response by EMS1.com after the Manchester attack, the top questions municipal leaders should ask are:

The steps advised are:

  1. Review blast injury assessment and treatment
  2. Anticipate secondary devices, actors and shooters
  3. Anticipate EMS will respond and transport the most severely injured
  4. Plan and practice patient tracking procedures
  5. Continuously hone risk and threat analyses for nearby mass gathering locations on an ongoing basis

Access the original story on EMS1 for critical EMS and first responder resources.

Ensure concerts are planned properly with these 7 Critical Steps for Planning Music Festivals.

#2 Plan for Public Safety Response at Multiple Locations

Not all mass gathering attacks are perpetrated by lone wolf actors or are suicide bombings. Evaluating the potential for a second device, actor or shooter should be part of an incident's response.

Last September, New York City encountered multiple devices after a pressure cooker bomb exploded on a Saturday night in Manhattan. Coordination among public safety and surveillance operations -- along with a mass communication via text -- led to not only the safe capture of the three yet unexploded devices, but also of suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami within the first 48 hours.

While municipalities may need to set up incident command systems (ICSs) for bombings like the Manchester Arena Ariana Grande concert attack, cities like Mumbai or Boston, or counties like San Bernardino, Calif. or Broward County, Fla., need them for multiple coordinated attacks at public places.

ICS is an emergency response coordination model developed in the 1970s for command, control and organized response of both near and long-term field-level operations for a broad spectrum of emergencies, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency Emergency Management Institute.

Most cops groan at the mere thought of organizing ICS, so add to your response list the local and state emergency management agencies. Go do your cop stuff and let the ICS gurus organize it for you. Every state has Incident Management Teams — folks who live and breathe ICS — so turn ‘em loose and they’ll organize down to the tiniest detail," advised Richard Fairburn, a criminal intelligence analyst on Police1.com last year.

Fairburn noted there are three things cities and counties will need for response to multiple terrorist attacks:

  1. Every available officer
  2. Organized response under the fire commander
  3. An intelligence director with a recon team

After Mumbai in 2008, Fairburn wrote a three-part series on Multiple Assault Counter-Terrorism Action Capabilities (MACTAC) that was used by the National Tactical Officers Association and Los Angeles Police Department in their rapid deployment and response training.

Access Fairburn's full multiple terrorist attacks advice on the Police1.com website and MACTAC series links for officer log-in.

#3 Organize Risk Communications & Social Media Crisis Strategies

The community and news media will be looking to municipalities and various agencies for statements and information. With social media, there are opportunities to quickly disseminate messages and instructions and clarify misinformation, such as what happened in Manchester after the concert bombing.

Amid all the chaos outside the stadium, there was a rumor ripping through social media that the local hospital had an active shooter. According to The New York Times, two local news affiliates reported on it, and the local council's police agency took to Twitter very quickly to reconcile the erroneous information.

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