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Emergency managers learn from colleague who dealt with the Boston bombing

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Events like April’s Boston marathon bombing have shaped the way emergency responders react.

This week in Wilmington one of the men who dealt with the bombing is among a group of experts sharing tips of the trade to improve emergency response.

From floods to explosions, shootings and more, emergency responders have to be prepared for just about anything.

No one knows this more than Massachusetts Emergency Management Director Kurt Schwartz.

As emergency responders rushed to the scene of the April 15th Boston marathon bombing, Schwartz was behind the scenes, planning each move.

“I and others were working on such adrenalin in those first 24 hours and then again the 24 hours in the manhunt,” Schwartz said. “The adrenalin was carrying us.”

Another man who knows about the adrenalin rush is Frank Patterson, Emergency Management Coordinator for Waco/McLennan County, Texas.

Just days after the Boston marathon bombing, Patterson had to deal with an emergency of his own when a fertilizer plant exploded.

“When the explosion occurred, the city of West lost its command structure,” Patterson said.

Many first responders were killed in the explosion. Patterson says those who survived managed to form a command center, which helped in the effort.

Schwartz says with the bombings, setting up a command post was the most important part of staying organized.

“It’s the value of incident command, and standing up a command structure, and making sure all of our first responders are trained,” Schwartz said. “And then the other piece of that is exercises.”

Schwartz says having emergency plans in place is important.

But Warren Lee, New Hanover County’s Emergency Management Director says what’s most important is keeping up with our changing environment, and making sure emergency plans will be successful.

“The main thing is that you never stop planning,” Lee said. “The biggest thing we take away from something like this is that you have to continually tweak your plans you have to look for ways to improve every day.”

The conference wraps up tomorrow with discussions on gangs as well as natural disasters like sinkholes and flooding.


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