Terrorism Incident Management & Emergency Procedures

The Scenario and Situation

The case study is set around the Oakland’s Athletics home game held at O.co Coliseum; address 7000 Coliseum Way in Oakland California (CA 94621). This occurs on August 18th on a day that is recorded to be in one of the hottest summers in the records of California as it is over 110 degrees. The game has been attended by over 35000 spectators all eager to catch the event live from the Coliseum. There are also 5000 players, staff for the teams, support staff, faculty employees, and vendors. To sum it all up, over 40000 had congregated on an area of approximately 157 acres.  On this particular day, a California-based radical terrorist group identified as BC plans and executes a large-scale and well-financed act of terror. The major demand that the group has is for the government to divide California into three distinct states. The members of this group carrying out the attack have been identified as violent, ready to die, and locals of the region, thereby, making it easy for them to mingle with the crowd and blend. The terrorists are well informed from insider information as ten of them are employees at the Coliseum. These employees execute the first part of the plan of the attack, accessing the Coliseum with vans loaded with weapons, explosives, ammunition, and other equipment necessary to carry out the attack.

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The execution of the attack is well coordinated and begins during the 3rd inning. Nineteen small boats with five heavily armed terrorists each, are stocked with explosives and tied under the bridges connecting the Coliseum to the city of Oakland. The explosives are the remotely detonated after the terrorist exit the boats into the parking lot. The attack destroys 18 bridges and leaves the final one partially intact. Other terrorists gain access to the Coliseum through the parking lot using two U-Haul trucks with more supplies to sustain the whole operation. The terrorists total up to 153 and are armed with no remorse, even for their lives. Having detached the Coliseum from the mainland, the terrorists block the last bridge with the cars in the parking lot and even setting others on fire generating heavy smoke thereby offering them a cover from the law enforcement choppers. The terrorists target to hold as many people as possible inside and hinder their escape through the waterways.

The attack sees many people injured and many dead. Among them are police officers, regular security guards, and game fans. Emergency response teams have come from different regions such as Sherriff’s SEB team, and FBI Swat teams. The terrorist engages the over 500 officers in heavy gunfire. Other officers are covering the victims in their escape attempts. While ten terrorists have been neutralized, more than 140 remain and still hold victims hostage. The situation spills over to the second day. The engagement of Federal troops would be against the Posse Comitatus Act thus the option cannot be explored. With the scenario and situation described above, the paper will endeavor to come up with an emergency rescue plan for this operation.

Scene Awareness

Being a terrorist attack, the scene creates conditions that may not have been anticipated by the responders thereby creating a need for them to carry out an assessment of the whole situation as a team. The major issue that responders face in deliberate attacks is the intentional hostility towards the responders (Carafano, 2003). In this situation, the responders’ attempts are met with gun fire as they try to gain access to the scene. Rescue of the victims is also not easy and forces law enforcers to provide covering fire as the victims try to swim to safety. The law enforcers responding to this situation are derived from different agencies as the goal is one, despite their jurisdiction and chain of command, which creates a need for a collaborative effort to understand the situation at hand.

Responders from all departments need to be prepared and trained regularly for the situation on bombing, weapons of mass destruction, and active shooters. This calls for pre-planning and around the clock preparedness. It is critical that the responder be attentive while handling this situation and interacting with the public. The responders need to be alert and to observe the hands and mannerism of every individual (Kurtz, 2015). In this scenario, this being a local terror group, it is very easy to the terrorists to blend with the crowd and be rescued as victims. On this note, the responders need to be extra vigilant to ensure that all terrorists can be accounted for and that none will slip over to the victims where they are saved and may extend their killing spree there.

Suspicious materials and individuals with suspicious behavior need to be investigated immediately and with utmost care. There is a recognized terror tactic where small explosives are placed to lure responders to get close to the blast thereby increasing their toll on the casualties (APTA 2009). Having gained scene awareness, the law enforcement officer assesses the situation and identifies any suspicious individual. Suspicious behavior can be identified through looking out for specified characteristics. These behaviors act as a sell out or indicators of a perpetrator of a terror attack.

Care and caution should be exercised to protect responders. One way in which this can be achieved is through emphasizing on the need to have personal protective equipment. This should not be an option, but an enforced requirement for all law enforcement clients engaged in the response. It has been noted in most cases, the emergency responder assumes high risks in the first stages of rescuing victims. The responders should be accorded a variety of the gears that they are used to and are aware of their stringent safety procedures. This case requires the responders to be dressed in the protective clothing. The continuous gun fire requires the responders to at least have a bullet proof vest and helmet. The smoke from the burning cars in the parking lot requires the use of gas mask and flashlights. The responders should be involved in the region where they are most endowed. It would be irresponsible for a fire fighter to attempt defusing an explosive as it may put them at high risk.

On this scene, having entered its second day, the law enforcement officers and other responders must have identified and performed a scene size up. This is achieved through carrying out of the evaluation of the incident region and determining the severity of the danger. The responders need to create control zone, just like they have done with the 180 armored vehicles that have been placing strategically surrounding the field. The scene will need more control to help identify terrorist among the victims and isolating the hazards.

Deployment of Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

The emergence medical responders have adapted to their functioning and have learned to work smarter and safer. New recall packages are used to inform personnel about the type and size of an incident.  A recall requires the EMS to have groups relieving others off their duty for some time. The EMS will establish their temporary facility behind the shelter of the armored vehicles. This provides a safe zone for the EMS officers to carry out their first aid job and assist the injured and prepare them for transfers to medical facilities.

Multi-organizational participation should be promoted in the area. This will ensure that there are adequate staffs to cater for the injured in the facility. Inter-organizational participation should be promoted to elicit commitment, participation and a clear defined agreement among the response organization. Being a mega terror event, it requires an integrated national response of the medical personnel and the health facilities that will accommodate the casualties. This should be followed by the protocols of triage, transport and treatment to ensure a maximum efficient response which will ensure all the casualties are attended and their situation attended to the best.

Victims of terrorism attacks experiences blunt, penetrating and blast injuries which requires emergency surgery and longer hospital stays. The EMNS should follow treatment priorities, “: rapid identification and control of severe external hemorrhage, airway management, ventilatory assistance as needed and rapid transport to a trauma center capable of treating the patient’s life-threatening injuries.” On scene, EMS may fail to locate small object entrance wounds that can assist them in identifying potential injuries to vasculature and underlying organs. The fatalities are immediate making it important for EMS to focus their resources on patients who are critically ill instead of the expectant and dead patients

Safe and timely treatment of casualties after a disaster proves quite a challenging task for the EMS. It calls for the coordination among the EMS providers and the medical facilities. The need for transportation to the facilities for extra treatment created a challenge for this process.  The medical facilities receive two types of patients that include ambulatory and non-ambulatory patients. This will be one of the factors that will determine to which medical facility a casualty will be transported. This will be based on the severity of the injury which affects the means of transportation. Emergency vehicles available for this rescue mission include ambulances and helicopter. The closest hospital will be required to deal with ambulatory patients who can take themselves there. To achieve this, these hospitals normally create mobile clinics in their facilities to increase their capacity for handling patients. The non-ambulatory patients should be sent to various hospitals within the area to increase the effectiveness of the EMS response (Mills, argon & Ziya,). The decision will also be informed by the specialized treatment required and the facilities that offer it.

Role of Media in Covering of the Terror Attack

It can be observed that terrorist attacks are mostly carried out with the aim of drawing attention to a cause. This is true even in this scenario as the California-based terror group, BC, is engaging in the attack to emphasize their calls to have California State split into three individual and independent States. Their first goal has been achieved through media coverage, their demands and presence have been made all over. The media is known to react to a disaster. Once the occurrence of an event is identified, the media moves on to gather more information. They tend to use their own files to offer a background on the story. Reporters are dispatched and report on anything. Knowing the scope and delicateness of this situation, the media ought to exercise caution as to what they report. Since the terrorists may have access to the news items, they might be motivated by the damages they have caused and aim to achieve more (Jetter, 2014).

The media also needs to be cautious from leaking any information to the terrorist will regard to the rescue operations and counter attack by the forces. The law enforcers will in this case zone out the regions at which reporters should not go beyond. This will help ensure that these media reporters only get news from the approved channels. The media can be used in this situation to provide assurance to the public that all relevant agencies are toiling and overworking to stabilize the situation.

Therefore, there is a symbiotic relationship between media and terrorism which if overlooked turns to be dangerous and vicious. For terrorism to have effect, it have to be communicated, this is similar with media which covers incidents with the urge of benefiting the eagerness of the crowd in obtaining terror attacks information. Terrorism remains an attractive boon for media coverage as terrorism attacks increases profits and makes the viewer rating surge (Bilgen, 2012).

According to Bilgen (2012), in the calculus of political violence, media plays a central role and is put in positions to minimize or magnify these acts and their perpetrators should provide a coverage which avoids any of the two extremes. De-securitization should be considered in breaking the symbiotic relationship between the media and terrorism. The media should reevaluate and when covering terrorism related stories and news, it should change its rhetoric. Therefore, the media should create a conscious responsibility to the public as terrorist main goal is shaking the confidence of the public towards their personal security.

Deployment of the SWAT Rescue Team

Having been out on two days and exposed to extreme heat, exposure, and dehydration, a decision is made to have the SWAT team enter forcefully into the Coliseum. Challenges surround this option, but it is given a go ahead. The team is flown using a helicopter that comes under fire and its visibility is affected by the heavy smoke.  The SWAT team will need to break down the wall as there is no other entry. For the safety of the patrons, the use of explosives is ruled out.  The fire fighter will have to go at it the hard way using a sledge hammer and Halligan to gain access to the building. The SWAT guidelines require it to come up with an operational plan for responding to a given incident. Violent incidents such as this under study create the need to having more trained officer. Whenever a single position is left unfilled due to a shortage, the probability of failure is increased. SWAT teams are comprised of Tactical Command, Containment, Emergency action, deliberate action and the precision long rifle (NTOA, 2008). The EMS providers in this scenario will be sent in after the SWAT has stabilized the situation as they are not trained for active combat and for their safety.

Crowd Control and Security

With over 40,000 people being present at the time of the attack and the inflow of the public onlookers, there comes up an issue of crowd control. The fire fighters will need to move in a put off the fire. This can be done safely after the SWAT has secured the area and are facing no further active resistance from the terrorists. Crowd control and management of the inflow and outflow of thousands of people within a short time and, in this case, filled with panic presents a challenge. The law enforcement officers will consider all the core factors such as the space available and the environment in executing the crowd management structures. On this occasion, there is need to adopt the unified control structure that allows various agencies available to cooperate in rethinking crowd control and creating unity of purpose for faster decisions and better coordination. Under these systems, the various agencies, each with specific functional authorities, roles, and responsibilities, work together in a way that does not affect each individual’s accountability. This system allows for a single and coordinated plan which directs all the occurrences (NDMA. 2014).

Emergence of Medical Evacuation for the Casualties and Survivors

After securing the Coliseum, it is reported that there are 38000 casualties with different injuries such as exposure, dehydration, and gun wounds. Temporary bridges have been raised, and there is a fleet of helicopters, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles ready to deal with this. The next step will be determining the type and capacity of the medical facilities, staffing, and ambulances.  A fully equipped medical unit will be set at the venue to accommodate the casualties with less serious injuries. There is a need to ensure that the route for the ambulances to move is unblocked. There should also be an inventory of all the EMS vehicles available. It will be crucial to define the emergency routes from the venue to the hospitals and deploy officers to control traffic and offer easy passage for the ambulances (NMDA, 2014)

Coordination of Resources

The UN highlights the importance of having clear roles and functions for the different agencies that make up a working group. This facilitates effective, coordinated, and timely help in accordance to the arising needs from a terror attack. Coordination between organizations is relevant to avoid duplication of efforts (CTITF, 2011). The California State Emergence plan provides a framework geared towards ensuring that the state, local, tribal and national government as well as the private sector work in unison to mitigate, get ready, and recover from the effects of emergency situations. The coordination is to be achieved using an integrated framework of emergency plans and procedures bringing together all groups in the emergency management community. The state supports effective response and recovery (Cal EMA, 2009).

Dealing with the Deceased

It has been ascertained that 2531 victims died in the venue while another 253 died at local hospitals. Most of these fatalities are game fans, but there may be others from the fire department, law enforcement, and National Guard. This will create high emotions to those affected directly. Research has indicated intentional violence leads to the development of mental health effects. The survivors are left with feelings of injustice having been done to them, thereby, giving rise to a feeling of anger, frustration, helplessness and fear. Individuals who face the greatest risk of suffering traumatic stress reactions including Posttraumatic Stress Disorder are the ones who experienced the greatest levels of exposure to the traumatic events. It is clear that rescue workers also experienced losses and need to cope with it as well as the demands of the rescue operation. In this case, the law enforcement officers will be best suited to remove the deceased as they have undergone training on dealing with such scenarios. They, however, need to undergo counseling to help cope with the traumatic events.

Re-Planning Emergence Responses for Any Future Attacks

Following the terror attack and the response that was available, emergency services agencies acquire a learning platform to better their responses in the future. There is a need to learn from the shortcomings and develop a mitigation plan by improving on the areas found in need to be made better. With the probability of some terrorists still at large who may have identified the shortcomings of the emergency response plan and sought to exploit them in future, there is also need to create adjustments. The process of strategizing requires the involvement of emergency response agencies. The plan should incorporate and comply with the principles and requirements that exist in the federal and state laws, regulations and guidelines. The process is to be achieved following an integrated framework of emergency plans taking into consideration the participation of all stakeholders. This will help promote effective planning and coordination before an incident occurs thereby achieving more effective response and recovery. The plan will move to identify the vulnerabilities that the terrorist may exploit in the future giving them a potential target. The media will also be engaged in the planning process as they need to understand their role before the attack, during the attack, or after the attack. Incidences where poor coordination between agencies occurred will be identified and guidelines put in place to address the issues. EMS service providence will also be dealt with in the plan. The EMS providers and health facilities will need to come up with an elaborate plan to respond to such scenario in the future.


APTA. (2009). Identifying Suspicious Behavior in Mass Transit. APTA Standards Development Program.

Bilgen, A. (2012). Terrorism and the Media: A Dangerous Symbiosis. E-International Relations Students. Retrieved from http://www.e-ir.info/2012/07/22/terrorism-and-the-media-a-dangerous-symbiosis/

California Emergency Management Agency. (2009). State of California Emergency Plan.

Carafano, J. (2003). Preparing Responders to Respond. Retrieved from http://www.heritage.org/research/lecture/preparing-responders-to-respond-the-challenges-to-emergency-preparedness-in-the-21st-century

Jetter, M. (2014). Terrorism and Media. Institute for the Study of Labour.

Kutz, J. (2015). Situational Awareness for the Modern Responder. Retrieved from http://www.fireengineering.com/articles/2015/04/situational-awareness-for-the-modern-responder.html

Mills, A., Argon, N., & Ziya, S. (n.d.). Dynamic Distribution of Casualties to Medical Facilities in the Aftermath of a Disaster. Operations Research.

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). (2014). A Guide for State Governement, Local Authorities, Administrators & Organizers.

National Tactical Officer Association (NTAO). (2008). SWAT Standards for Law Enforcement Agencies.

Scanlon, J. (n.d.). Research about Mass Media and Disaster. Emergecny Communications Research Unit.

Schuster, MA, Stein BD, Jaycox, LH, Collins, RL, Marshall, GN, Elliot, MN, Shou, AJ, Kanouse DE, Morrison, JL and Berry SH (2002). A national survey of stress reactions after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. New England Journal of Medicine, 345(20), 1507-1512.

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