Response to Mass Violence

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The chaos, uncertainty, and complexity of mass violence and terror-related incidents place strain on the decision-making process for emergency personnel. As a result, agencies often perform after-action reports to detail the decisions and actions taken during the incident as a way to learn and improve future responses. This discussion will focus on the decision-making by response personnel during four attacks involving mass violence in Boston, Massachusetts; San Bernardino, California; Aurora, Colorado; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. While some of the events were determined to be terror related, during the initial phases of the response, the motives for the attacks were unknown.

Select one of the following cases to address in your main post. Use the corresponding report (linked in Resources) to critically analyze the decisions made by response personnel during the event.

  • Aurora Century 16 Theater Shootings.
  • Boston Marathon Bombings.
  • San Bernardino Inland Regional Center Shootings.
  • Oklahoma Federal Building Bombing. (using this case please)


  1. Locate the pertinent information in your selected report in the index or by scanning headings and subheadings.
  2. Review the case and reflect on the decision-making process by response personnel.
  3. For your main post, complete the following:
    • Summarize the incident you chose and any information that may have been known to emergency response personnel early in the response—what did they know and not know?
    • Identify the strengths and areas for improvement related to the decisions by emergency personnel and how the decisions were addressed in the report.
    • Compare the decision-making process during the incident to your studies on decision-making and incident management:
      • How were the actions taken similar or dissimilar to your studies?
      • If there are gaps in the case related to the decision-making, how would you apply a decision-making framework to manage the incident?

Response Guidelines

Respond to the posts of at least two of your fellow learners and provide substantive feedback to enhance their understanding of how decision-making contributed to the response to mass violence or terror incident. Offer additional insight on the impact of the decisions and alternative to improve response.

Review the Discussion Participation Scoring Guide for more information on how your participation in discussions will be graded.

Learning Components

This activity will help you achieve the following learning components:

  • Describe how the overall structure and functions of the emergency planning cycle relate to disaster response efforts.
  • Describe how strategic versus tactical thinking and the EOP are used to make decisions.
  • Study how agencies collaborate to make decisions.
  • Critically analyze the decisions made by EOC response personnel during the event.


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