Emergency Response in Germany

In the modern times of frequent shootings and terrorist attacks, many people are becoming more and more worried to travel.  While I understand their concerns, I also have to argue that bad things happen in the United States too.  The possibility of danger shouldn’t deter anyone from exploring the world, it should just make people more prepared to know how they would react and what their plan is in case of an emergency.

Unfortunately this past week the state of Bavaria has had a very difficult time. There have been many incidents throughout Bavaria that have triggered more discussion on immigration and refugee policy.  Incidents have included a bomb at a music festival, a murder of a woman and an attack via axe on a tram. Another incident that occurred specifically in Munich while I was here was a mass shooting at a local shopping center.  A young high school student lured people to a McDonald’s where he intended to shoot them, specifically those of minority heritage who were said to have targeted him for bullying at school. Nine people were killed and 35 were injured in the attack.  Needles to say, it was a very tragic night in Munich.

While it was shocking at first, it was interesting to see how another country would respond to a possible terrorist attack. The shooting happened around 5:50 p.m. and there were already police cars and news coverage of what was going on. The German system was extremely efficient in responding, something that many would criticize the American government of not being able to do (i.e. 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina). There were 2,300 officers from various units searching for the shooter(s), because at the time they thought there was more than one.  A state of emergency was declared. There were ambulances and police cars throughout the night tending to those affected.

Not only was the defense unit extremely quick to react, I would say that all units of the city responded swiftly. Fortunately I was at the hotel.  Within 15 minutes hotel workers were going to each room to have guests sign in that they were there and safe. Additionally, SDSU reacted swiftly. I received emails and a request for safety confirmation within 20 minutes of the incident.

I am here in Munich, Germany studying immigration and refugee policy – a hot topic in many countries.  Germany has been in the spotlight for accepting many refugees in the past year.  People argue that it creates a more dangerous community filled with terrorism. This shooter happened to have parents that were immigrants but he was raised here as a German.  He even exclaimed during the shooting “I am German!”  I think that this helps to refute people’s ideas that refugees are the people creating all the problems.  This was a young boy in a German school, being bullied by other kids.  This incident created a great amount of discussion within our class.

While many might see this as another reason not to study abroad, I would argue this should support your study abroad experience. Other countries are just as capable of responding to dangerous situations just as well as – if not better than – the United States can.  SDSU is diligent in getting information to students as soon as possible and ensuring their safety. Dangerous situations can happen any where in the world.


Kellie Quinn is a master’s of public administration student. This summer she is travelling to Munich, Germany on a faculty-led program.

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