Lessons Learned from San Bernardino

During the initial response to the San Bernardino terrorist attacks on December 2, 2015, flexibility was perceived as key, according to an article examining the incident in the San Bernardino Sun.

Working in a rapidly developing environment, local officials were forced to react without a full understanding of events, and to prepare for both what was known, and what could occur. In such a dynamic situation, all levels of emergency response were constantly remapping plans as information came in.

Out of a San Bernardino County operation center activated during the attacks, and in anticipation of other related events, multiple teams of ambulances were mustered and distributed, so as to allow for transit and distribution of potential patients to hospitals best suited for response. Similarly, police worked from a rapidly assembled command post in the trunk of a squad car to coordinate on the ground responses as additional information and resources became available, rather than forcing arriving officers to check in at a more formal location for assignments.

This flexibility in response and preparation is seen as critical, for disaster response is most typically from the bottom up, with the local level bearing the immediate burden, and higher level resources typically only becoming available later.

Ken Kondo, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management, told The Sun that the best strategy in such a situation is “Semper Gumby — always be flexible.”