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Last month, in Bangladesh, 2 police officers who responded to the Dhaka attacks were killed and another 30 officers were wounded in the line of duty. In Saudi Arabia several guards were also killed or wounded at the sites targeted for ISIS terror attacks. And in cities around the world, first responders train and prepare to respond to terror events such as these, in order to protect as many as possible.
We live in complicated times. First responders now train to respond to a broad range of disasters and a frequency in threats that were unimaginable a decade ago. Officers train to negotiate a sophistication in terror operations previously unseen. Emergency Medical Personnel are trained to work alongside SWAT teams. And all of this requires a vigilance that is exhausting.
We are aware of an increase in mass casualty scenarios globally, but (thankfully) we are less aware of the many thwarted catastrophes each year. Within nearly every mass casualty story, there is more than one story of human cost avoided because a first responder acted with swift judgement. Recently, at a briefing in Los Angeles in which officers recounted lessons learned from the Paris attacks, I was stunned to learn a few of these stories. So many more individuals might have died that night, had not keen observers prevented attacks.
We mourn the acts of terror so far this year. And we mourn with humility the root causes – the deep divides and injustices that have ripple effects. Yet we also honor the first responders who bravely respond, and all those who protect our comings and goings. We depend on these responders to be there at the worst moments and to face things we dread to face. We respect the toll that this must take and we honor the sacrifice.
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