A report by researchers at the Harvard Kennedy and Law schools analyzes the way Boston-area emergency officials reacted after the bombs went off on Boylston Street and concludes that while decades of training and coordination by local police agencies in dealing with large events with the Marathon, coupled with some luck, minimized the death toll and helped organize the search for the Tsarnaevs, an attitude of "Boston Strong" also played a key role:
"Boston Strong" is much more than a phrase or passing sentiment. It captures many different elements of what happened during and after the sad events of the week of April 15.
A part of Boston Strong is pride in the inspired work of those involved in responding to the event - the bystanders, the other runners, the Boston Athletic Association volunteers, the first responders, the medical staff at the finish line, the doctors and nurses and support staff in the hospitals, police from all responding agencies, fire, National Guard; in short, everyone who helped. From their dedicated, selfless work springs inspiration.
Another part of Boston Strong is an expression of resilience - that people, including those directly and indirectly injured, those involved in the response, and the community as a whole will come back, stronger than ever, going on with their lives and hopes and dreams.
And a part of Boston Strong is an expression of unwillingness to be intimidated. This is a forward-looking form of resilience - the community refuses to cower, to be deterred or diverted from its ongoing work and life and hopes and dreams.
In the report (copy attached below), the researchers identified several factors that helped clear the bombing scene of the injured in less than a half hour:
There were already large numbers of medical and emergency personnel and ambulances on scene, both for the traditional aid to dehydrated runners and among spectators. There were also large numbers of police - and commanders made sure additional arriving officers parked their cars where they wouldn't block the ambulances. Roads were largely clear because it was a state holiday - the same for operating rooms at local hospitals - and the bombings happened just as shifts were changing at local emergency rooms, which meant large numbers of doctors and nurses were already on duty.
But what worked well on Boylston Street - the large number of emergency and police workers flooding the area - didn't work so well at the gun battle in Watertown and the final capture of Dzhokar Tsarnaev the next day, the report continues: When word got out of both incidents on police radio, large numbers of heavily armed law-enforcement officers rushed to the scene, resulting in officers with guns pointed at each other and roads clogged with the cars of out-of-town officers unfamiliar with Watertown streets.
The researchers have several recommendations, including training and creation of better protocols for creating "micro-command" at scenes where large numbers of police from different jurisdictions arrive at a scene at once.