Essay Sample on the Leadership Lesson from the Pulse Nightclub Shooting in Orlando, Florida

Published: 2022-09-09
Essay Sample on the Leadership Lesson from the Pulse Nightclub Shooting in Orlando, Florida
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Leadership analysis Management Gun violence
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1569 words
14 min read

A recent major emergency event that one can draw leadership lessons is the Pulse gay nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. At around 2 a.m on 12th June 2016, a lone gunman, identified by security agents as Omar Mateen, entered into the club and, while armed with a semi-automatic handgun and a semi-automatic assault rifle, indiscriminately opened fire on the partying gay patrons. After the firing began, the incident quickly degenerated into a hostage situation that lasted for hours. At approximately 5 a.m, a team of elite security officers stormed the club, killing Mateen, and rescuing hostages. By the time, the shooter had killed 49 patrons and injured 53 others (Astho, 2017; Straub et al., 2017).

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Response by Police and Fire Agencies

Responding to a major emergency incident with the magnitude of the Pulse nightclub shooting requires a framework that facilitates coordinated and collaborative efforts to offer emergency services. Two of the agencies that were actively involved in responding to the incident were the police department and the fire agency. During emergency events, law enforcement agents are expected to provide the first response to the disaster and minimize its impact by managing the situation adequately and ensuring survivors are safely evacuated (Schwartz et al., 2018). In the Pulse nightclub shooting, although the Orlando Police Department responded promptly and played their role at the local level, the situation became challenging when they lost coordination powers. The nature of the incident contributed to the slow response from law enforcement agents because it was an FBI scene (Astho, 2017).

While coordination and collaboration are essential factors when responding to a critical emergency incident, it was not the case with the Orlando Fire Department. Notably, when a command center was established to facilitate a coordinated operation, the fire department was not included forcing them to establish a different command post. The response from firefighters was slow because they relied on information from the Orlando Police Department, which was not forthcoming due to poor coordination even though Orlando fire station is located across the street (Schwartz et al., 2018). According to Schwartz et al. (2018), it was after the responders received instructions from the Orlando Fire Department command post that they started working from outside the club in helping to transport survivors to medical and trauma centers. There were further delays that led to an increase in casualties. For instance, minutes after entry of police into the club, they called Orland Fire Department first responders to enter inside Pulse, but that did not happen as the responders did not have bulletproof vests. This further exposed the hostages to further danger.

The Roles within Structured Command

Multi-agency response teams from the law enforcement and health departments actively participated in providing specialized response and rescuing victims. The specialized team from Orlando Police Department engaged and eliminated the shooter, saving the hostages and inviting other teams to provide specialized services to victims. The Orlando Regional Medical Center was the first trauma center to receive seriously injured patrons at the onset of the attack. The Emergency Support Function (ESF-8) of Orange County helped activate the Orlando Emergency Operations Center to help provide medical services to victims. The Florida Department of Health provided the personnel at the center. Local agencies were also involved as the District Nine Medical Examiner's Office provided supplies used during the response (Astho, 2017)

The structural roles within various departments and medical facilities were facilitated by the notification of the mass casualty incident through the EMS response system. The response team also coordinated various activities and opened a Family Reception Center, which transitioned to a Family Assistance Center (FAC). FAC had multi-agency teams, and it served as a center to provide assistance and information to family members (Astho, 2017).

The Emergency Management Leadership Theories Utilized

Emergency incidents continue to be a threat to the national security and leaders of first responders are always on the focus when they occur. Notably, these leaders are expected to practice command, communication, and coordination for the response to be effective (Urby & McEntire, 2015). When responding to the Pulse club night shooting incident, two emergency management leadership theories were utilized, and they are transformational leadership style and transactional leadership approach. For instance, law enforcement agencies were under the leadership of the FBI, and transformational leadership was tactfully applied where leaders created a coordinated process that facilitated information sharing among followers (Urby & McEntire, 2015). Rescue teams leaders made effective decisions in a volatile situation where information was constantly evolving, and the situation was tense (Straub et al., 2017). Transformational leaders allow fluid flow of information between them and the subordinates for a common objective in highly dynamic environments.

Transactional leadership style was utilized, in particular, by medical departments. The leadership at Orlando Regional Medical Center ensured that the hospital had appropriate suppliers and equipment as well as providing additional staff in response to the incident (Astho, 2017). As such, reinforcement was provided, ensuring that responders have all they require to manage the situation. Besides, transactional leadership is a one-way communication style. During the incident, creative and decisive decisions were made to contain the situation. These decisions did not consider the opinions of the subordinates but only the team leaders (Straub et al., 2017). This is critical to achieving efficiency in a tense environment.

How Leadership Handles the Community as Part of Emergency Management Incident Process

The community bears most of the impact of an emergency incident, and, as such, it should be factored in the process of emergency management incident. Notably, during the Orlando nightclub shooting, some of the casualties, as well as the rescuers, were members of the community. Leadership deals with the community by prioritizing the safety of the people and ensuring there are coordination and floor of information (Urby & McEntire, 2015). In the case of the Pulse nightclub shooting, responders first evacuated casualties and transported them to trauma and medical center before establishing a family notification center where the community accessed all the required information throughout the emergency management incident process (Astho, 2017).

How Leaders Approach and Handle the Media Before, During, and After the Crisis

Communication is a significant aspect of the crisis management process. The media will always want to be updated on the occurrences before, during, and after the crisis. Notably, the media provides information that could either calm the situation or cause trauma to victims (Urby & McEntire, 2015). Before the crisis, leaders should include the media contact in their preparations. According to Urby and McEntire (2015), there should be a designated spokesperson who addresses the media. During the crisis, leaders of agencies involved in emergency response should factor in the importance of the press in updating the larger public and provide timely information throughout the process. After the disaster, leaders should ensure the media is addressed, and all their questions are answered to avoid speculations.

The Importance of Emergency Management Training in the Overall Emergency Management Approach

Emergency management training significantly assisted in the overall process, in particular, among local responders because they were prepared through drills and exercises, and, as such, they had perfect coordination. Also, staff from the Hospital Incident Command System (HICS) had a prior FEMA Incident Management System training and drills that enabled them to respond to the incident successfully (Astho, 2017). Although emergency management training played a significant role in the overall approach, it was only useful at the local level where there were smooth coordination and sharing of information. At the state and federal level, other agencies encountered communication challenges despite their preparedness in crisis management (Astho, 2017). Therefore, training at all levels should focus on facilitating coordination and communication for effective management of emergency incidents.

Ethical Challenges Faced by Leaders Working through the Event

Leaders face various ethical challenges at the heat of an emergency incident as they are required to make critical decisions. One of the challenges is when a leader decides to protect the people, but it entails sacrifices of liberty. For instance, freedom of the press is liberty that American citizens have, and when the presence of media is limited at the scene of the incident, individuals sacrifice their right to information. Leaders provide the media with specific details and withhold the rest as a way of protecting victims and their families (Urby & McEntire, 2015).

Another ethical issue was the decision of the police to stop pursuing Mateen to the bathroom which risked the lives of other hostages. In effect, the shooter some of the hostages in the bathrooms while others died due to lack of medical attention. This happened as police made efforts rescue other victims and also as the fire teams remained stranded outside due to lack of bulletproof vests (Straub et al., 2017). However, training of responders on coordination and life-saving principles relating emergency response can reduce uncertainty when they face ethical dilemmas.


Ashto. (2017). The June 12, 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida: A peer assessment of preparedness activities' impact on the public health and medical response.

Schwartz, P., Broadaway, W., Arnold, E. S., Ware, A. M., & Domingo, J. (2018). Rapid-response collecting after the Pulse Nightclub massacre. The Public Historian, 40(1), 105-114.

Straub et al, F. (2017). Rescue, response and resilience: A critical review of the Orlando safety response to the attack of the Pulse nightclub. Retrieved from US Department of Justice website:

Urby, H., & McEntire, D. A. (2015). Emergency managers as change agents: recognizing the value of management, leadership, and strategic management in the disaster profession. Journal of emergency management (Weston, Mass.), 13(1), 37-51.

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Essay Sample on the Leadership Lesson from the Pulse Nightclub Shooting in Orlando, Florida. (2022, Sep 09). Retrieved from

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