Aside from the sadness and anger, the one thing I remember most about living in Boston during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings was the unshakable disbelief. I can’t tell you how many times I thought, or muttered, or heard someone say to no one in particular, “I can’t believe this is happening right now.”
In seconds, Patriots Day, a long-awaited celebration of spring and community, was marred in the most evil way. In hours, media from all over the world converged on our city, and soldiers with guns popped up everywhere. Days later, a Hollywood-style shootout happened on the street, followed by a manhunt that played out on live television like a reality show being filmed right outside our windows. Everyone I know in Boston spent that entire April day in front of the television, glued to CNN. Helicopters buzzed overhead, and police cars and armored vehicles whizzed by, disrupting the surreal silence of a city under a mandatory shelter in place order.
The heroes during this strange time were the first responders, and their unflappable leaders—Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Boston Police Chief Ed Davis, and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino—who held press conferences nearly every hour to let us all know what was going on. One of those recognizable faces on television was Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Director Kurt Schwartz.
I recently had the honor of interviewing Schwartz for the cover story “Resilience” in the March/April issue of NFPA Journal. What he had to say was so compelling, so interesting, and so engaging that I thought it was appropriate to get rid of me altogether and just let him tell the story, in his own words, about what it was like to manage the emergency response in the aftermath of one of the most high-profile terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. You can read the full version of Schwartz’s interview at nfpa.org/resilience.
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