Updated 10/07/2009 06:03 AM
Report on ACA shootings shows need for improvement
The American Civic Association shootings last April claimed 13 innocent lives. A report issued Tuesday attempts not to understand so much why, but what, if anything, could have been done to improve the response. Our Neil St. Clair explains.
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BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- The 47-page report attempts to sum up just what went right and what went wrong during last April's shootings at the American Civic Association. And county and local officials are taking the recommendations to heart.
"I think the need to put on paper a lot of the things we did," said Brett Chellis, Broome's emergency services director, referring to one of the report's listed areas of improvement.
"We didn't really know what was going on at that time, but we could also have been giving some preliminary information to our news media," added Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan.
The report offered around 15 areas of improvement, including better use of an incident command center and utilization of a public information officer to ensure accurate notification.
But Beck Disaster Recovery, which conducted the report through dozens of stakeholder interviews, says there were some big positives as well.
"The best element is coordination," said John Mills-Pierre, senior consultant for Beck Disaster Recovery. "So many resources came together and were able to think outside of the box so swiftly."
But moving beyond the page, what have stakeholders really learned? Six months on, what's not contained in this report? And if something like this should happen again, how prepared do they feel?
"I think that with every one of these things, there's things we learn and improve planning," said Chellis. "Through our experience we've learned a lot. The big message: the sooner you can organize a unified command post, the better you'll be."
The report also criticized emergency personnel for not using the N.Y. ALERT system, but said civic and emergency responders did well to organize rapidly while taking steps to improve safety.
Officials tell us they're working now to implement most of the recommendations.
The report cost around $15,000 and was commissioned by Broome County.