Lessons Learned from the Boston Bombings

Courtesy of EMR-ISAC

In July, several state and federal leaders joined Boston’s police commissioner to testify before Congress about the events surrounding the Boston Marathon Bombings, specifically the lessons learned stemming from the response to the event. All testimony is available via a 2-hour video or as downloadable PDFs.

One serious after-effect of that day was overtaxed cellphone service that eventually failed. As a result, responders were forced to rely on radio service. Another result was the public’s switch to social media to get news and updates, often by following official governmental feeds.

An article in Continuity Insights points out several unique aspects of the Boston area and the marathon that ultimately benefited the response:

  • Businesses had mostly shut down due to the blocked roads and congestion, making roads less congested for emergency traffic.
  • Boston has some of the premier medical facilities in the world.
  • Staff from those facilities volunteer in medical tents at the marathon.

Based on these and many other factors mentioned in their congressional testimony, the RAND Office of External Affairs states: “We cannot assume, based on Boston’s performance, that other U.S. cities are prepared to manage an event of similar or substantially greater magnitude.”

The Boston Police Commissioner and the Massachusetts Undersecretary for Homeland Security both cite the strong relationships between various state, local, and federal agencies as well as the gaps in some relationships and information sharing mechanisms. Room for improvement in any jurisdictional emergency management plan is always something to investigate and strengthen.

(Source: U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs)