October 3rd marks my 1year anniversary at the NFPA. It has been incredibly rewarding to work in a place where the mission is to help responders perform their work in a safe and organized manner. I am grateful for the opportunities afforded to me and to the technical committee volunteers who have helped me along the way. One of my biggest and most rewarding challenges has been to work on the development of NFPA 3000, Standard for Preparedness and Response to Active Shooter and/or Hostile Events. On Friday the 29th I wrote the following blog, but so much has happened since that I want to acknowledge some things first:
- The tragedy in Las Vegas was a stark reminder these types of hostile assailant attacks are on the rise and will continue. There is a need for our communities to prepare and our responders to be safe, organized, well-practiced, and unified in their handling of this incidents.
- Having a member of our technical committee from Las Vegas Fire and Rescue, I know there will be many lessons learned, but the Las Vegas responders have been preparing for this day and they did an amazing job.
- As already chronicled, the responders will need the support of their community and fellow responders for many years to come after what they have experienced.
Before moving on, I want to share the sentiment from one of the Orlando responders that was sent to the Technical Committee members for NFPA 3000 yesterday: “After waking up to the horrific news of another record-breaking mass shooting to our public in Las Vegas, it just solidifies, even more, the great work the NFPA 3000 TEAM is creating. Thank you for all for your insight and professional experience to the active shooter standard. We all work quickly to resolve each and every potential that this new standard should cover for a purpose much greater than anything else we have worked on in the Public Safety sector. To protect our responders and the citizens we serve, the concise standard that will evolve and will help many prepare for their worst day. Not everyone can be part of this assemblage, the group that creates the Standard or the group that has "been through this hell"...some can claim both. This is a club that wants no new members. Thank you for the work you do, the profession you support, and our shared goal to make the worst day safer and more prepared for.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself! Now on to what I wrote about last week’s experience:
During the week of September 25th, a Technical Committee of over 50 experts and guests from across the country met in Orlando, Florida to continue the development of the draft for NFPA 3000, Standard for Preparedness and Response to Active Shooter and/or Hostile Events.
During the meeting the Technical Committee reviewed various active shooter/hostile events, using a 30,000 foot perspective, to determine what communities absolutely need to properly prepare and respond to, and eventually recover from these events. The committee formed task groups and developed over 20 chapters that address different components of preparedness, response, and recovery. Comprised of representatives from law enforcement, fire, and other impacted response agencies, the committee focused on the need for interoperability using common language, clear and open communication, safety among peers, and resolving the incident in a unified and effective manner. What it is not, however, is a tactical or strategy document. There is too much variation to standardize local tactics, and frankly, no one wants the bad guys to know what our tactics are.
The group broke the draft down into chapters that started with how communities prepare, what should be in their plans, and what they should teach to their residents and responders. Then they moved to leading to incident management requirements, competencies for responders, training and recovery components. One of the strengths of this Technical Committee is its experience. Having responders present who were part of the responses to recent occurrences of these incidents really was beneficial in that they were able to tell us where the gaps are that could be filled and the things that they wish they had in place ahead of time.
After each day’s meeting adjournment, our gracious hosts from the City of Orlando and Orange County, Florida, arranged for different non-meeting related activities for the group. One day, they received a presentation from the fire chiefs detailing the attack at the Pulse Nightclub. They took almost 3 hours out of their time to detail the incident and take questions from the group. A big take away was that they identified the absolute need from the command level for NFPA 3000. They feel having something that is cross-functional insures that they are on the same sheet of music as law enforcement and emergency management and would have helped them immensely with their response to the incident. This isn’t to say that they weren’t that night, but it is to say that there were many instances of confusion and lack of cohesion where compliance of the potential components of NFPA 3000 will (and can) help mitigate those occurrences from happening in the future.
On the last day of meetings a group formed a makeshift caravan and traveled to the Pulse Nightclub site. I have been privy to several presentations and briefings on the events of that night. I have seen videos and heard the 911 calls and radio traffic. I can also most assuredly tell you that none of it does justice to what is still there at the site. The messages of hope, loss, and love at the site left some very burly battle hardened operators a little choked up out there. Coincidentally we even met the owner who took time to speak to us and really touched all of our hearts with her dignity and strength. NFPA 3000 will truly be a standard that not only serves as a tool for response, but a tool for our communities.