A fast, effective emergency response to last year’s Boston Marathon bombings April was the product of years of security planning for large public events, forging close cooperation between public safety agencies, concludes a Harvard University study reported by the Boston Globe. Based on interviews with leading law enforcement and public safety officials, Harvard researchers said that Boston and the surrounding area was unusually well prepared for the attacks, which killed three people and injured more than 260. “Boston Strong was not a chance result,” the report says. “It was, instead, the product of years of investment of time and hard work by people across multiple jurisdictions, levels of government, agencies, and organizations to allow command-level coordination and effective cooperation.”
The report analyzed response to the bombings in hope that lessons learned can be applied elsewhere. The authors made a series of recommendations. Researchers praised the leadership shown during the crisis and the speed of the medical response. They noted there was room for improvement in training police officers to control weapons fire and in maintaining regular communication with the public. The tone for the week was set when emergency officials quickly set up a command center at a hotel. They immediately began formulating a strategy, said Herman Leonard, codirector of the Harvard Kennedy School's Program on Crisis Leadership and one of the report's authors. The report found that response suffered when organizational lines broke down, notably during the shootout with the bombing suspects in Watertown and again during the capture of DzhokharTsarnaev. Police officers “operating as individuals, rather than in disciplined units” created dangerous situations that “threatened both responders and bystanders,” researchers found.