Lessons Learned in Overcoming Barriers to Interagency Coordination

Sidebar to the article Interagency Coordination: A Case Study of the 2005 London Train Bombings by Kevin J. Strom, Ph.D., and Joe Eyerman, Ph.D.

Our research has helped us identify several promising practices for overcoming barriers and successfully coordinating with other agencies during an emergency. These include up-front planning and ongoing collaboration and training, such as:

  • Creating and instituting standing procedures for rapidly recognizing and declaring a major multiagency incident.
  • Having a standardized process for multiagency preparation and response that is rehearsed and used regularly for major events — and, therefore, becomes familiar to all emergency response agencies.
  • Using a "liaison" model, in which personnel from one agency are assigned to work at other agencies for periods of time; sharing staff in this way facilitates communication and on-site consultation across agencies.
  • Developing relationships to facilitate cooperation among agencies by holding joint trainings, planning sessions and informal social events (such as off-site dinners).
  • Encouraging participation of all relevant agencies' senior and junior staff in joint training and planning sessions to foster relationship building, communication, trust and appreciation for each other's roles.
  • Providing continued reinforcement from senior management through ongoing support for annual trainings and interactions and dedicating resources to joint initiatives.
  • Implementing procedures to coordinate and send joint messages to the news media to forestall panic and exaggerated public perceptions.

Editor's Note: In the next issue of the NIJ Journal, we will further discuss challenges faced by the British agencies in responding to the 2005 London bombings and lessons learned from them.

Date Created: July 15, 2008