Assessing the Response in Boston

The recent Boston Marathon bombings tested the city’s preparedness and response. These efforts included many associated with the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative. Here is a quick round up of some of the more interesting pieces:

The Harvard School of Public Health Forum held a live webcast in conjunction with WBUR featuring NPLI Founding Co-director Dr. Leonard Marcus, The Department of Health and Human Services’ Don Boyce (Cohort IV), Massachusetts General Hospital’s Paul Biddinger, Boston EMS Chief Jim Hooley, and several others. This Forum event, focused primarily on the immediate aftermath of the bombings, revealed the sometimes surprising underpinnings of a successful emergency preparedness system and shared hard-won lessons applied and learned.

Dr. Marcus noted that it is great to celebrate “Boston Strong,” but the more important job is to build strong communities across the nation. “We want to see Chicago Strong and Minneapolis Strong,” he said.


FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino (Cohort I) contributed an op-ed to the Boston Globe that focused on the medical response:

While nothing can replace those we lost, as a community we can take some solace that our long marathon of preparedness saved lives on that terrible day. At FEMA we often stress that there is no one agency or entity responsible for emergency response. It takes a “whole community” of emergency responders to prepare for disasters and save lives. We owe it to those who were lost and those who were injured to keep improving.

Paul Biedrzycki (Cohort V) of the Milwaukee Department of Health reflected on what the response tells us about our national resilience:

As the Boston tragedy has proved, the real heroes are us, as a unified and resilient people, community and nation. The antidote to terrorism is to continue to grow American’s resiliency by nurturing the collective “we.”

The analysis and reflection will continue in the weeks ahead. At the NPLI, we will adding the lessons from Boston to our curriculum.