News / Ottawa

Social media training and community support are keys to terrorist-attack response, report says

A Conference Board study released this week outlines a number of recommendations that Canadian law enforcement should consider when responding to terrorist attacks.

Police secure an area around Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday Oct.22, 2014. A gunman opened fire at the National War Memorial, wounding a soldier, then moved to nearby Parliament Hill and wounded a security guard before he was shot, reportedly by Parliament's sergeant-at-arms.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Police secure an area around Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday Oct.22, 2014. A gunman opened fire at the National War Memorial, wounding a soldier, then moved to nearby Parliament Hill and wounded a security guard before he was shot, reportedly by Parliament's sergeant-at-arms.

As the nature and threat of terrorist attacks evolve, emergency response teams must be able to evolve as well, and adapt their response protocols to the shifting nature of terrorism and communication.

That’s the message from the Conference Board of Canada, who released a report that outlines six major recommendations to Canadian emergency responders when it comes to terrorist attacks.

Among them: that emergency responders provide training for law enforcement personnel using social media in the wake of an attack, noting specifically the proliferation of false reports of a second shooter in the 2014 Parliament Hill attack.

“Organizations must have the capability to monitor social media and deal with rumours and false information that can hinder response efforts,” reads the report.  

Other recommendations including creating uniforms that are more distinct, as the black-on-black paramilitary look is one that has been adopted by attackers and can be confusing for the public.

It also recommends investing more heavily in support services for minority communities — Muslim communities in particular — that are often unjustly targeted after an attack.

The report summarizes several areas explored in February, when the Conference Board’s Centre for National Security and Council on Emergency Management held a joint meeting in Ottawa to discuss how Canada’s emergency response networks should prepare for terrorist attacks, and to develop best practices when it came to emergency response strategies.

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