As I'm writing this brief commentary on what I'm sure will be an oft-discussed incident over the next several days, months and years, I'm watching a press conference with Washington, Mayor Vincent C. Gray, the police and fire chiefs, FBI officials and others.
It's clear from their statements that the situation at the Washington Navy Yard remains dynamic and challenging for everyone involved. I'm sure you join me in conveying our thoughts and prayers for the victims, their families and friends, the United States Navy, and all of our federal, state, and local colleagues who are still participating in the response and recovery to this tragic event.
Of course, we're also pulling for the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department officer who was wounded in this attack, and the other people who continue receiving medical treatment at local hospitals.
Like so many others around the world, those of us who live and work in the National Capital Region closely followed this incident on television, social media and through other sources. Many of us have friends, neighbors and fellow first responders who work every day at the Navy Yard, or live and visit in the community surrounding the oldest active military facility in our nation. Here, in the week after we commemorated the 12th anniversary of 9/11, the parallels to how that tragedy affected our area, and how this one unfolded, were absolutely eerie.
As if we needed any more reminders of our continued vulnerabilities, many folks had feelings of, "here we go again." At the same time, we saw — once again — the heroic and coordinated response of multiple first responder disciplines, from several jurisdictions (federal, state, and local), across a densely populated area, and with a great deal of continued uncertainty about the nature of the attack.
I expect we'll see more about responding to mass-casualty incidents and active-shooter situations as the details of this day are shared.
But for now, let's be proud of our colleagues on the front lines, hopeful for those still in harm's way, and respectful of those we've lost to this tragedy.
About the author
With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel — FireRescue1's editorial advisor — is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.
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Gabe CortezTuesday, September 17, 2013 10:56:20 AMI also grieve for the victims of this terrible attack but it is wise to remember that each of us is responsible for our own safety until second responders get to us. To that end each of us needs to become proficient in whatever means and with whatever tools we choose to use to remain safe and alive. Our government has a responsibility to support and encourage each of us to acquire and become proficient with these tools so that we may remain safe and alive.