Official After-Action Report Challenges Some Terrorist Study Findings

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In a previous post, we reported an after-action paper authored by a team of medical professionals regarding a terrorist attack on a conference center in San Bernardino, CA, in which 14 people were killed and 22 seriously wounded.

That study, headed by Dr. Joshua Bobko, has been challenged for allegedly containing “factual errors that are not supported by official documents, the timeline, or dozens of interviews of the first responders to this incident.”

The challenge comes from an investigative committee of four headed by Dr. Daved van Stralen which produced the official after-action report on the incident, commissioned by the San Bernardino County Fire Dept. Van Stralen is internationally recognized as an authority on EMS/paramedic operations.

According to committee member George T. Williams, a West Coast law enforcement trainer and subscriber to Force Science News, there are a dozen points of conflict between the two reports. These range from differences over who did what during the multi-agency response to disagreements over conclusions about performance quality.

For instance, the official committee disputes that “confusion” occurred at the scene because fire and EMS units were not accustomed to combined operations with law enforcement.

“There is little to no evidence of confusion from the [official] interviews, timeline, or witness statements,” Williams says. “Paramedics were accustomed to combined operations from years of joint response to very frequent multiple-victim shootings within the city. Police, fire, and EMS also participated in prior joint integrated training and were familiar with the needs of each service during this response.

“While any unplanned, large incident involving a multi-agency, multi-discipline response is initially chaotic, there is no evidence that any victim suffered any harm from any confusion on the part of first responders.”

Among other things, the committee also refutes Bobko’s assertions that medical personnel were unprepared for working in the wet environment created by activation of a sprinkler system…that medics started screening SWAT operators for PTS symptoms at the scene…that some medics arrived without personal protective equipment…and that responders acted as if they were unaware of a potential IED threat, “which is not true.”

“It is important to understand that this was a very successful public safety response to a volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous, and high-threat incident,” Williams says. “Every victim who was found alive survived this attack because of the efforts of every responder who risked his or her life for the benefit of the victims, witnesses, and citizens they served.”

The full 117-page official report on the attack—good reading as a training document—can be accessed free of charge by clicking here. It’s titled “Tactical Improvisation: After-Action/ Comprehensive Analysis of the Active Shooter Incident Response by the San Bernardino Fire Dept.”

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