The events that unfolded in the City of Boston in the week of April 14, 2013, beginning with the Patriots Day bombings are one of the best and most recent illustration of the skills and attitudes of resilience. In the face of adversity, the citizens of Boston pulled together. They supported each other. While the city was shut down by the authorities as they searched for the perpetrators of the bombings, most people demonstrated flexibility and problem solving. They found other ways to get home, to care for themselves and their families, to manage their work, etc. And they communicated with each other about what was happening. Social media was a major part of this. Yes, social media may have been misused by some to spread rumors or make false accusations against innocent people, but overall the citizens of Boston assisted public safety personnel through social media in taking care of their fellow citizens, both physically and emotionally.
Law enforcement and public safety personnel demonstrated all of the above and more. They came together and worked closely together, which is a difficult task, when an event occurs like this, where close cooperation between federal, state and local law enforcement is required. Oh, yes, there were problems at times in terms of knowing who was in charge, and there were problems with communication at times. But overall, the departments and agencies involved seemed to work well with each other.
Now comes the hard part. The aftermath of what has happened. This is the time when we need to be able to deal with all of those feelings that we may have set aside in order to get through the week of April 14. This is especially true for first responders and public safety.
And all of us have to begin to figure out what meaning all of this has to us and how it relates to our lives as we go forward. Hopefully, we will not allow these events to dampen our confidence in ourselves and our society’s ability to deal with adversity. We can choose how we look at the events in Boston. We can take a pessimistic view or an optimistic one. The latter would say that the week has passed. It has affected many in a deeply negative way. But the impact of these events for most of us can be temporary and specific, not permanent and pervasive, and those responsible can be held accountable for their actions without being demonized or written off as insane.
And perhaps most important, we now need to get back to the business of taking care of ourselves. First responders and healthcare professionals are often major offenders in this area. We often assume that the rules do not apply to us, but they do.