Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 29, 2013

FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino on the community response to the Boston Bombings

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on April 29, 2013

Son-of-Boston Rich Serino, currently Deputy Administrator of FEMA and formerly Chief of Boston EMS, penned a thank you op-ed last week to the first responders and citizens of Boston who participated in the response to the bombings.

While in one moment we saw terror and brutality, in the next we saw our community’s love and compassion. We saw our EMTs, paramedics, police officers, and firefighters spring into action and perform their jobs heroically.

He also saw how those non-professional responders helped save lives.

They weren’t the only first responders, though. Bystanders and marathon volunteers, regular people given the chance to run, decided instead to stay and help the professional responders do their jobs. Some comforted victims, urging them to hold on and that help was on the way. Some helped carry victims to the medical tent for triage. Some did more by helping to control bleeding, in some cases using their own clothes as tourniquets to stop life-threatening blood loss.

Years of planning across the spectrum of agencies in the area contributed to the incredibly high level of preparedness.

For years, responders in Boston, as in other cities, have utilized large public events as “planned disasters,” anticipating and preparing for mass casualties if something goes wrong. In Boston, First Night, Fourth of July on the Esplanade, and the 2004 Democratic National Convention, all offered the city’s medical community a chance to hone their plans and skills in managing high-profile, public events. In my current role at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, we work with communities big and small across the country to prepare for these worst-case scenarios.

And he was clear about the successes of that day.

It was no accident that not a single hospital in the city was overwhelmed with patients in the aftermath of the bombings. It was no accident that patients were appropriately triaged and transported in an orderly manner to the appropriate hospital based on their needs. And it was no accident that a Medical Intelligence Center was fully staffed and operating on race day to keep track of patients, coordinate resources and share information with the medical community throughout the region. All of these are tangible results of disaster planning that has gone on in Boston for more than 20 years.

A man of, by, and for that community for so long, Chief Serino is uniquely positioned to offer his thanks.

In a disaster, everyone has something to give and never was that more evident than on Marathon Monday. For the EMTs and paramedics of Boston EMS, a special “Thank you for a job well done!” To the citizens of our town, I’ve never been more proud.

The entire piece is worth your time: http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2013/04/26/medical-response-marathon-bombings-was-community-wide-effort/VxBxwziGKrz532QbwPQlfP/story.html

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Comment by William R. Cumming

April 30, 2013 @ 2:19 am

I notice that the bombings became a declared Presidential EMERGENCY but now efforts to have it declared a MAJOR DISASTER!

Note that the term “terrorism” appears no where in the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act as amended no does support for law enforcement and its range of activity during a crisis or disaster.

DoJ controls declaration of a Law Enforcement Emergency and see implementing regulations at 28 CFR Part 65! Wonder if this happened?

Comment by Michael Brady

May 1, 2013 @ 11:19 am


It was marvelous display of true resilience. Having local, state, and federal resources staged for a major civic event was certainly a major contributor to the rapid lifesaving response, but the “bystander” involvement – while not unexpected – was a heartwarming testament to the power of community.

Comment by Heather

June 12, 2013 @ 11:44 am

Please note that FEMA immediately got involved when it was the Deputy Administrators home town. BUT, the fertilizer plant disaster in TX that left over 100 DEAD and caused millions in damage not only to private property, but also to basic town infrastructure, has been deemed not severe enough. Blatant favoritism just as in the Supreme Court when Clarence Thomas did not step down for conflict of interest from a case involving his previous employer. This nation is corrupt to the core. I am so sad to see it.

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