Recap of the March 19th CERN Meeting
Resources in a Disaster:
Federal Emergency Management Agency: www.fema.gov
Maryland Emergency Management Agency: www.mema.state.md.us
United States Department of Homeland Security: www.ready.gov
U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration: www.osha.gov/SLTC/emergencypreparedness/
American Red Cross - ARC: www.redcross.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/
Howard County Government: www.howardcountymd.gov
Howard County Health Department: www.hchealth.org
Maryland State Government: www.maryland.gov
American Red Cross – Central MD Chapter: www.redcross-cmd.org
The Volunteer Center Serving Howard County: www.volunteerhoward.org
(Photo: Chief Bill McMahon being presented the Extraordinary Emergency Leadership Award by CERN president, Mary Lasky.)
On March 19th the Howard County Community Emergency Response Network (CERN) recognized Howard County Police Chief William McMahon with the CERN Extraordinary Emergency Leadership Award. In addition, the Howard County delegation to the General Assembly issued a proclamation for the work done that day. Mary Lasky, CERN President, read the citation which was signed by every member of the Howard County Delegation. Howard County Council member Mary Kay Sigaty presented Bill with a proclamation from the County Council and was assisted by Terry Chaconas representing County Council Vice Chairman, Courtney Watson. Then Ron Miller, Howard County Public School System and Secretary for CERN, Phil Cogan of the Maryland Pharmacy Board and CERN Treasurer presented Chief McMahon with the CERN award. Chief McMahon was recognized for his involvement with CERN through the years and his outstanding leadership in response to the shooting at the Mall in Columbia on January 25, 2014. Ms Lasky noted that his press briefings during the incident stressed what was known, and also what was not known, discussed rumors asking people not to continue with the rumors, and stressed that people should shelter. His conduct of the police response set a standard for the nation. Ms.. Lasky recognized the role that Fire & Rescue and the Office of Emergency Management and others had played.
Chief McMahon responded by talking about the shooting at the Mall in Columbia. He started by expressing concern for the families who lost their loved ones. He talked about how many others were involved and helped to save lives that day. He was on his way to the Eastern Shore when the 911 call came in, but within moments of receiving the news he hurried to the Mall. At the beginning, the Chief served as the Incident Commander for the event. He mentioned the amazing mutual aid response with many police officers coming from other counties. After the immediate shooting, the police were concerned that there may be explosive devices placed by the shooter. In fact, two homemade devices were found in the shooter’s back pack, which he had left in the dressing room. This concern was elevated by the many personal belongs who had fled the Mall that day. The Police Department was assisted by close to 20 explosive detection K-9 teams from around the region. Fortunately, no other devices were found. Chief McMahon mentioned that it was fortunate that there were not more injured or dead and attributed this to the fact that there had been a great deal of training and that people knew to shelter. He also mentioned that it is unfortunate that we as a society do not discuss mental illness openly because the shooter was having problems and hid them from his mother and others.
Ashley Venable, Manager of the Mall in Columbia shared insight from her perspective about the shooting on January 25th. She expressed gratitude to Chief McMahon and the Police Department for all they did. Communication is key and having pre-written messages can be very beneficial. During the incident, the shop owners responded by closing their shops and sheltering people in their rear offices, which was excellent and helped save lives. People reached out to take care each other and this was a great showing of how our community can come together. Many people evacuated the Mall during the incident and left belongings in the Mall. After the Police had verified that these belongings were safe, the Mall management boxed all of the belongings and had them taken to a nearby building as a satellite Lost & Found location. This which was helpful and people did not have to reenter the Mall the very next day. The Mall management set up two memorial sites in the Mall, which was important in helping with the healing process. All mall retailers were able to reenter the mall on Sunday to secure their stores, and returned on Monday morning for a merchant meeting before the official re-opening at 1pm. As part of this meeting, retailers were able to dialogue directly with Chief McMahon and County Executive Ken Ulman, as well as mall officials. A media briefing and tour was also hosted by the Mall on Monday before reopening. Ms. Venable found delegation of many tasks in order to be prepared to reopen and was a key factor to the successful recovery.
Posted by on Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 @ 2:15AM
Categories: CERN Meeting