April 09--Los Angeles International Airport officials are working to improve their ability to communicate with first responders, other emergency personnel and the public in the event of a major terrorist incident or a natural disaster, city officials were told Tuesday.
The City Council committee update is part of a continuing review of a shooting rampage last Nov. 1 when Transportation Security Administration Agent Gerardo Hernandez was shot and killed and two other TSA officers were wounded. The alleged gunman, Paul Ciancia, has been indicted on 11 counts, including murder charges.
While police officers, who were the first responders, acted appropriately, Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents the airport area, said communication quickly became problematic.
"We also got lucky that day," Bonin said. "It was an isolated shooter, targeting only TSA employees and not going after the general public. If he had it would have turned this into a major tragedy."
Bonin said the main problem he saw was advising people on what was happening.
"We need to do a better job getting information to the public, to the passengers on a plane on the tarmac and to other responders, such as the Red Cross," Bonin said, adding the city also needed to work with the hotels around LAX to alert them to be prepared to respond.
"People were milling about without direction," Bonin said. "People with luggage, many of the police officers were standing outside and didn't know what to tell people. And, people will go to someone with a badge or uniform to get information."
Gina Marie Lindsey, Los Angeles World Airports executive director, said she and her staff have been working to develop plans on how to improve communications, including developing a public address system for all terminals as well as television monitors with emergency information for the public.
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