Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Collaboration in Mass. Emergency Response

The Boston Globe reported that the response to the Nov. 22 chemical plant explosion and fire in Danvers, Massachusetts was marked by good cooperation among responding agencies:

The blast turned into a major test of emergency response in the post-Sept. 11 era and, by all accounts, the response was swift, comprehensive, and coordinated.

Jay Bourgeois , a Newton fire lieutenant who served in New York after Sept. 11 and the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina [said] there was one big difference between the emergency response to the Danvers explosion and those other calamities: a spirit of cooperation.

"The response out here, it's impressive, and everybody really played well in the sandbox," said Bourgeois, a member of the Massachusetts Task Force One Urban Search and Rescue unit, a squadron commissioned by the federal government to respond to emergencies. "There used to be a turf battle with different agencies. Now, everybody's singing to the same sheet of music."

State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan ... dispatched two hulking response vehicles from his headquarters in Stow, including a 44-foot red-and-white van that served as the locus of activity for emergency workers at the scene.

It took in pictures transmitted by police helicopters and acted like a high-tech translator, allowing agencies operating on different communications frequencies to speak with each other.

"There's no question," Coan said, "we're all better organized because of the lessons that came from 9/11."

Good news all around.

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