Evanston Police Chief Eddington shared with me an email from Orlando Deputy Chief Rodon today. I found D/C Rodon’s initial thoughts in the aftermath of the Orlando tragedy to be very instructive. I hope none of us is ever confronted with a similar incident:
First and most important, thank you for the support and words of encouragement that you have provided during the last 72 hours.
I want to share with you what I have experienced so far from a personal perspective and in no particular order.
• Aside from the Command Post, activate your jurisdiction’s Emergency Operation Center immediately
• Communications personnel will be emotionally impacted. One of our dispatchers was on the phone with the perpetrator for over an hour. Others were on the phone with victims during the incident from beginning to end and heard everything that you can imagine.
• Ask right away if the targeted group has any association with a specific race, ethnicity, etc. Our victims were mostly Hispanic and the requests for information has come from many Latin countries.
• Refer many of the international requests for victim information to the Department of State. The victim information is protected by HIPAA laws which complicates the process.
• All of your PIOs will be overwhelmed and they will need assistance from other jurisdictions
• First day of the incident will be nearly 20 hours long for you.
• Elected officials will come from places you never expected
• For us we needed a media compound the size of a baseball or football field.
• Nearly 200 family members arrived at the hospital
• Everyone will volunteer their victim advocates, identify a point of contact to coordinate those resources and I recommend the Chaplains
• Select a location for the families to report to after the initial hospital phase. Families will go to the hospital whether you like it or not
• Six surgical teams were on duty when the incident occurred. A rare occurrence and very fortunate for the victims
• Make sure someone takes charge of the unified command!!!
• Limit who will be inside the Mobile Command post
• Assign a commander for the Self-deployed resources
• Specialty vehicle from local, state and federal agencies will come to the scene and a significant amount of roadway will be needed to accommodate them
• Command center style tents will be ideal as long as they have the video and internet capabilities often found in Mobile Command Posts
• Generators and AC units for tent systems will have issues
• Portable bathroom facilities and the schedule for their service needs to be part of the response plan
• The offer of food will be far more than what you will be able to consume, at the site, communications center, and police stations
When the after action report is completed you will see the great work and heroics displayed by the public safety professionals who lived through this tragedy. I also hope that every agency, at all levels, will be brutally honest with their assessment of their response. This will allow for our profession to be better prepared to face a tragic situation like this in the future. ”
Greg Klaiber, Fire Chief
Evanston Fire Department