This morning the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs conducted a hearing on lessons learned from the Boston Marathon Bombings. Media attention has focused instead on this afternoon’s arraignment of the accused surviving bomber.
Besides the morning session was mostly good news: planning and training helped, coordination and collaboration happened. The horrific outcomes of a very bad day were mitigated by investments made over the last ten years. The Boston Police Commissioner complained he didn’t know what the FBI knew about one of the accused bombers visiting Chechnya. But he also admitted that knowing those details might not have changed anything.
Good news is usually not how the most advertising will be sold. But it is worth recognizing what goes right, especially when so much seems to go wrong. All of those testifying had good news to tell. Here are just three paragraphs from prepared testimony by Boston native Richard Serino:
Since 2000, more than 5,500 Boston area responders have received training through FEMA partners including the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC) and Continuing Training Grantees. During that same period, FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) has provided Chemical/Biological and mass casualty training to more than 500 Boston responders and providers.
FEMA has supported twelve exercises directly involving the City of Boston. These have included topics as diverse as chemical or biological attacks, hurricane preparedness, hazardous materials events, cyber and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). In 2011, DHS – in conjunction with the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center – hosted a Joint Counterterrorism Awareness Workshop that focused on integrating response operations to a complex attack in the Boston metropolitan area. More than 200 participants from the local, state, and Federal community participated in the workshop.
As part of FEMA’s Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant Program, the Metro Boston Homeland Security Region (MBHSR) in 2012 exercised a Regional Catastrophic Coordination Plan designed to augment existing operations plans by facilitating communication, situational awareness, and functional area coordination across the region in a catastrophic event.
You can read more good news and watch/listen to a video of the testimony at the Committee’s website.