Commentary

Overcoming Challenges – Do Not Skip Steps

by Catherine L. Feinman -

In some ways, communities are well prepared for emergencies. However, it is critical to continuously assess systems, structures, models, and procedures to identify even small weaknesses and gaps that can become significant impediments to effectively responding to threats, hazards, and risks. The authors in this March edition of the Domestic Preparedness Journal identify gaps and share possible solutions for various critical infrastructure, public health, and physical safety vulnerabilities and threats.

Securing & Protecting the Nation’s Cybersecurity Infrastructure

by Chandler Lofland & Raymond Walker -

A cyberattack on a water treatment plant in Florida significantly elevated sodium hydroxide levels for a brief period of time. A ransomware attack in May 2021 temporarily shut down the Colonial Pipeline. The Texas power grid is currently facing cybersecurity threats from Russia. These are just a few recent examples of critical infrastructure vulnerabilities that emphasize the need to secure and protect the nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure. This article explains how.

Closing Preparedness Gaps – Timing Is Everything

by Catherine L. Feinman -

In some ways, communities are well prepared for emergencies. However, it is critical to continuously assess systems, structures, models, and procedures to identify even small weaknesses and gaps that can become significant impediments to effectively responding to threats, hazards, and risks. The authors in this March edition of the Domestic Preparedness Journal identify gaps and share possible solutions for various critical infrastructure, public health, and physical safety vulnerabilities and threats.

Bipartisan Commission Says Nation Unprepared for Biological Events

by Asha M. George & John T. O’Brien -

On 17 February 2022, Dr. Asha M. George, executive director of the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, testified as an expert witness before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs at a hearing on addressing the gaps in the nation’s biodefense and level of preparedness to respond to biological threats. In 2015, the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense released its first report, A National Blueprint for Biodefense, to warn that the biological threat was rising and to inform the government that the nation was insufficiently prepared to handle a large-scale biological event. When COVID-19 emerged in early 2020, many of those findings proved to be true.

Four Key Elements of Crisis Prevention

by Catherine L. Feinman -

A crisis can occur when a situation becomes unstable, circumstances suddenly change, or tension and stress heighten. However, not all events need to reach the level of a crisis or disaster if proper preventative measures are taken. Preparing for and possibly preventing a crisis mean thinking outside the box, creating good habits, developing a plan, and then implementing that plan.

Top 10 Habits for Better Crisis Preparedness

by Andrew (Andy) Altizer -

Imagine an important grant application deadline approaching next month, delaying the submission for a couple weeks, but then a critical incident happens (perhaps, something like a pandemic) that diverts attention for weeks, months, or much longer. The routine tasks that require action are not performed in a timely manner, and the deadline for that grant application is now gone. Developing some small habits like prioritizing would have significant effect on productivity and effectiveness of response and recovery efforts for a future crisis.

Finding New Ways to Prepare

by Catherine L. Feinman -

One common sentiment that can hold people back from thinking outside the box is, “That’s how it’s always been done.” Lessons learned and best practices are critical components of disaster preparedness efforts. However, no matter how many lessons are learned and best practices are discovered, the pursuit for new lessons and even better practices should never end. In this January 2022 edition of the Domestic Preparedness Journal, a new year begins with four new ways of looking at disaster preparedness.

The First Open-Source Equitable Decision Intelligence Model

by Eric Kant, Joel Thomas, Chauncia Willis, Sarah K. Miller, Nissim Titan, Tzofit Chen, Brian Kruzan, Camila Tapias & Alexa Squirini -

When incidents are catastrophic and/or happen in compromised environments, complexity can increase rapidly and dramatically, compromising response objectives and resulting in catastrophic failure. The cost of these failures is measured in destruction and human lives, making even minimal reductions in capabilities untenable. A rapidly changing environment requires that the modern emergency manager is capable of quickly understanding community needs, including the needs of underserved populations and traditionally underrepresented groups.

Resilience in 2022 – Planning, Resources, & Connections

by Catherine L. Feinman -

A quick search through articles on DomesticPreparedness.com for the word “resilience” reveals a possible shift in focus for preparedness professionals over the years. In 2005, the Domestic Preparedness Journal published many resilience articles that focused on creating standards and plans in order to more rapidly return to normalcy. By 2010, there seemed to be a greater focus on funding, grants, and other resources needed to be able to sustain operations when disasters occur. By 2015, education, communication, and collaboration were key buzz words in articles on resilience. Then 2020 arrived along with much reflection on what could have been done better to be resilient in the face of an unprecedented event and how to endure the consequences of past decisions.

Running Into Danger – Firsthand Accounts of 9/11

by Catherine L. Feinman -

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Many events were held to commemorate the lives that were lost and to honor those who survived yet still ran into the danger zones to save lives in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC. However, one special event hosted in Washington, DC on 30 September 2021 was particularly impactful as it recounted that fateful day through firsthand accounts. Some presenters have told their stories many times over the years while others shared their heroic actions publicly for the first time in two decades. The District of Columbia’s 2021 Interoperability Summit “20 Year Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 Attack on America: Never Forget,” was organized by the District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency’s (HSEMA) Office of the Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC), in conjunction with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) Emergency Communications Division (ECD).