november 2017

Updates

USDA Helps Rural Communities Restore Water Systems Damaged by Disasters

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding the National Rural Water Association and the Rural Community Assistance Partnership each a $500,000 grant. The grants will be used to provide training and technical assistance, onsite repairs, and utility management advice for rural water and sewer utilities impacted by disasters.

Updates

Federal Resources Offers More Than an Expo at 5th Annual ExperienceFR Event

Federal Resources is hosting its 5th annual ExperienceFR event on 6 December 2017 in Washington, D.C. ExperienceFR is an exhibition of products and solutions for military personnel, first responders, and law enforcement professionals. The event features training, demonstrations, book signings, and a prominent guest speaker.

Healthcare

Biothreats – Advocating Action Through Transition

by Robert C. Hutchinson -

On 15 November 2016, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a letter report to the president on “Action Needed to Protect Against Biological Attack.” PCAST urged the president for immediate action to ensure that the nation has the ability to meet these challenges with near-, medium-, and long-term goals. It is critical that the recommendations in this letter are conveyed to the current administration, and not lost in transition.

Updates

Restoring Hope, Wi-Fi in Storm-Ravaged Puerto Rico

The Avwatch team, a nationally recognized leader in disaster response and mobile tactical networks, was on a humanitarian mission to establish Mobile Ad hoc Networks (MANET) in areas where critical communications had gone dark since 20 September 2017, when Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico.

Updates

ASTM International Group Advances Array of Drones Standards

ASTM International’s committee on unmanned aircraft systems (F38) recently held a successful meeting that included significant progress in standards development and live demonstrations. The committee is launching work on six new standards related to: detect-and-avoid technologies (acoustic-based and non-acoustic-based), fuel cell design, business operations manuals, maintenance technician qualification-and-certification, and beyond visual line-of-sight package delivery. 

Resilience

Freight Rail Safety and Emergency Management

by Kay C. Goss -

During the second week of October 2017, the DomPrep Journal hosted and Draeger sponsored a series of presexxntations and discussions, which included most of the major federal agencies engaged in freight rail safety and security, as well as the American Association of Railroads. To add to that discussion, several states have made significant contributions to freight rail safety. Three major state and local emergency management agencies that have made these major strides in rail safety and security are described here.

Preparedness

Protecting the Homeland From Nefarious Drone Use

by Richard Schoeberl & Kendall J. Smith -

Rezwan Ferdaus, a U.S. citizen and graduate of Northeastern University, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2011 for supporting al-Qaida and plotting to fly a motorized airplane – loaded with explosives and controlled by a global positioning system (GPS) – into the U.S. Capitol Building and the Pentagon. Though the FBI insists the public was “never in danger,” the threat of a terrorist attack via unmanned aircraft system (UAS) technology is increasing. If someone other than FBI undercover agents supplied explosives to Ferdaus, the story would have been very different.

Reports

Mass Violence and Behavioral Health

This report focuses on how mass violence affects the behavioral health of adult and young (child and adolescent) survivors or witnesses of a mass violence incident. Public health, behavioral health, and emergency management professionals can use information provided to improve their disaster behavioral health preparedness plans.

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Updates

Three Decades of Responding to Infectious Disease Outbreaks

In an online essay in Annals of Internal Medicine, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci reflects on the ways efforts have been marshaled to address infectious disease outbreaks of the past three decades. Lessons learned must be applied to the infectious disease threats faced today and beyond.

Reports

Wildfire Management Funding: Background, Issues, and FY2018 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of the accounts that fund wildfire management activities and historical wildfire management appropriations data, as well as information on FY2018 appropriations. 

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Preparedness

Chemical Attack on Public Transport – A Likely Scenario

by Zamawang Almemar -

Some experts say that a chemical attack plot on Western public transportation systems such as this one is inevitable: It is 0753 on a Tuesday morning at the busy red line subway station in Washington, D.C. The Islamic State group (IS) just claimed responsibility for a chemical attack that took place there by three IS supporters (two males and one female) about half past the hour. The Metrorail transportation staff and first responders are rushing to care for the victims of what seems to be a sulfur mustard attack.

Resilience

Critical Infrastructure Partnerships – Prioritizing Assets

by Christopher Ryan -

A key early step for critical infrastructure protection (CIP) programs is to identify and prioritize the most important facilities and assets for maintaining community safety, normalcy, and quality of life. Within single jurisdictions, CIP program managers typically choose prioritization criteria to determine the most critical assets. However, developing customized prioritization criteria for multiple, closely interconnected jurisdictions in the National Capital Region (NCR) – where public safety authority is decentralized – recently proved much more challenging. Here is how they overcame this challenge.

Updates

Fentanyl Safety Recommendations for First Responders

The "Fentanyl Safety Recommendations for First Responders" provides unified, scientific, evidence-based recommendations to first responders so they can protect themselves when the presence of fentanyl is suspected during the course of their daily activities such as responding to overdose calls and conducting traffic stops, arrests, and searches.

Preparedness

Staying “PRIMED” for a Radiation Event

by Grant Coffey -

Chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) events are low in frequency, but high in consequence, requiring a frequent and more targeted emphasis on the way that responders train and learn. Radiation is often not well understood. It can be intimidating for both the public and for first responders. Radiation cannot be seen, smelled, or heard. Yet, risk is relatively easy to mitigate when responders have been adequately trained and equipped.

Updates

Officials Detail DoD Support During Unprecedented Hurricane Season

Defense Department officials told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee how the Department of Defense (DoD) has supported federal, state, and local officials in responding to the unprecedented series of hurricanes in 2017. DoD’s main support was to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but the department also supported other federal agencies such as the departments of Health and Human Services, Energy, and Transportation.

Updates

Biodefense Evolving in the 21st Century

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) hosted its BARDA Industry Day 2017 on 7-8 November 2017 in Washington, D.C., featuring government and industry experts, who shared their perspectives on medical countermeasures for evolving biodefense threats. One of these experts was the new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, M.D.

Commentary

Unmanned Aircraft Systems – On the Way to the Jetsons’ Era

by Charles J. Guddemi -

Debuting in 1962, “The Jetsons” depicted the family of the future, with people movers, tube travel, vehicles that folded up into brief cases for parking purposes, home computers, internet, microwave ovens, CT x-ray for medical purposes, cellphones, and speed limits of up to 2,500 miles per hour. Fast-forward to today, as roadways become more congested, one logical alternative is to go up. Unmanned aircraft systems bring the nation a step closer to the Jetson way of life.

Reports

Critical Infrastructure Protection: DHS Risk Assessments Inform Owner and Operator Protection Efforts and Departmental Strategic Planning

The U.S. Government Accountability Office was asked to review the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) risk assessment practices for critical infrastructure. This report describes: (1) DHS’s risk assessment practices in 3 of 16 critical infrastructure sectors and private sector representatives’ views on the utility of this risk information; and (2) how this risk information influences DHS’s strategic planning and private sector outreach.

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Updates

New Turnout Ensemble Aims to Reduce Firefighter Cancer Risk

A new suite of personal protective equipment may provide additional protection for firefighters from exposure to carcinogenic vapors and particulate matter at incident sites. The Smoke and Particulate Resistant Turnout Ensemble, developed by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate in partnership with the North Carolina State University Textile Protection and Comfort Center is now available for purchase from LION First Responder PPE Inc.

Updates

EPA Publishes Companion Documents to Protective Action Guide Manual

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently published two companion documents to the EPA’s Protective Action Guide (PAG) Manual that will help emergency responders prepare public communication materials prior to and during a radiological emergency. These communication materials are based on the safety measures in the PAG Manual, and are designed to be used in all types of radiological emergencies.

Reports

The Opioid Epidemic – From Evidence to Impact

This report contains specific, proven recommendations for how to most effectively combat the opioid epidemic. Topics include the following: allowing physicians to more effectively treat those suffering from addiction; expanding coverage and accessibility of opioid overdose reversal drugs like naloxone; and changing the way healthcare professionals, employers, and advocates talk about addiction to reduce stigma. 

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Updates

Third Annual Commercial UAV Expo Draws 2,000 Professionals for Education, Networking and Newest Generation Drone Technology

The third edition of Commercial UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) Expo came to a close last Friday in Las Vegas, Nevada, having attracted 2,000 professionals from 53 countries and every U.S. state, representing a wide range of industries including process, power utilities; civil infrastructure; construction; mining and aggregates, surveying and mapping; precision agriculture; law enforcement, emergency response and search and rescue. The next edition will be held 1-3 October 2018.

Commentary

Drones – Both a Force Multiplier & Headache

by Catherine L. Feinman -

Until the federal government decides how to best secure the skies from unmanned aerial systems (UAS), first responders, emergency managers, and public safety professionals will have a big problem to deal with. However, in light of the recent hurricanes and wildfires, this technology is also a real game changer for search and rescue and other unforeseen positive uses. Efforts are being made, but more regulation, enforcement, and concepts of operation are still needed to define this transformative technology.