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The Boston Globe

Opinion

Juliette Kayyem

This is not a test

When the tsunami alarms sounded last week in Indonesia, what didn’t happen became an invaluable lesson in disaster management

THIS IS a test, this is only a test.

Behind those familiar words lies a fundamental tenet of emergency management: Systems to protect the public need to be practiced and validated. As it is, first responders constantly test their response plans. These efforts can be small tabletop exercises, like those performed in the buildup to the Boston Marathon today, or large simulations of catastrophic events with people acting the parts of victims. Some of these exercises are helpful, others a waste of time. But in the end, they don’t fully suffice because everybody knows it is just a test.

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