After Action Report for the Response to the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings

The report entitled the After Action Report for the Response to the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings is the product of a year-long process that evaluated preparation activities related to the 2013 Boston Marathon, and response and recovery activities related to the April 15, 2013 bombings and associated incidents which followed that week.  The report, which reflects an examination of documents and news reports, as well as interviews conducted with hundreds of officials from state and local law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, emergency management, public health, healthcare and race operations, details the best practices of and lessons learned by the numerous public safety, public health and medical organizations that played critical roles throughout the week.

In the months immediately following the 2013 bombings, representatives from key local and state public safety and public health agencies collaboratively formed a multi-jurisdictional Project Management Team to embark upon and oversee a comprehensive after-action process.  The Project Management Team was comprised of representatives from the City of Boston, the City of Cambridge, the Town of Watertown, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Transit Police Department, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Massachusetts emergency Management Agency, the Massachusetts National Guard and the Massachusetts State Police.

With the exception of the post-bombings criminal investigation and intelligence sharing activities before and after the 2013 Boston Marathon, all aspects of the response to the bombings and the incidents that followed during the week were examined, including: public safety and medical support planning for the 2013 Boston Marathon; the immediate public safety, public health and medical response to the bombings and those injured; the search for, and apprehension of the bombing suspects in Watertown; and the recovery of the Back Bay and the community at large.  The 130-page report provides an overview of the incidents that occurred during the week of April 15, 2013; discusses the response activities of public safety, public health, emergency medical and healthcare communities; and discusses best practices, lessons learned, and areas needing improvement.

While the intention of the report is to provide important guidance to the numerous public safety, public health and healthcare agencies and organizations that were directly involved in the response to the Boston Marathon bombings, the report’s review of what happened in 2013, and its discussion of best practices and lessons learned, may assist other agencies and jurisdictions that plan for and manage public events, or may be called upon to respond to mass casualty incidents.