This Los Angeles Times story, posted earlier today, highlights the panic that comes when people think they are in danger.
Patrons at LAX stormed onto the tarmac to escape what appeared to be shots fired in the airport. Those sounds may have been suitcases dropping as people fled, only adding to more panic.
No active shooter was found. But the incident marked the second time in two weeks that a major international airport was paralyzed by false reports of gunfire.
Airport officials and security experts said the LAX incident and a shutdown at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport this month show how difficult it can be to control mass panic.
For all the investments in post-9/11 security improvements and training, the confusion and chaos stemming from a false report of violence can actually be harder to handle than dealing with a gunman, officials say. The hunt for a gunman takes much longer when there is no one to find. (LA Times)
Now, it will be time for the after-action review to see if recommendations from a previous incident at LAX in 2013, in which a gunman in Terminal 3 killed a Transportation Security Administration officer, are working.
Officials at the time cited poor communication between law enforcement and the public and recommended getting better radio equipment and establishing teams to help stranded passengers.
So, let’s armchair quarterback this…
What would you do? What would your agency do? How quickly do you have the ability to get intel that can be passed onto the public? How quickly can operations understand what is going on to effectively inform the public? What prescripted messages would help?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.