National Preparedness Month is a time for each person to reflect on his or her level of preparedness for the next emergency. This article challenges those in the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to do the same. Whether training for Basic Life Support (BLS) or progressing to Advanced Life Support (ALS), all EMS personnel are created equal at their respective levels. They must learn the same skill sets and protocols and pass the same certification exams as all other EMS personnel within their jurisdictions. That, however, is where the “equality” ends.
Stakeholders in each discipline are tasked with protecting their industries’ assets and resources from potential risks and threats. However, each industry is interdependent on numerous other industries and their preparedness practices. The “whole community” concept encompasses the “all for one and one for all” motto. Together, communities can build strength and resilience. Apart, they may miss the warning signs and opportunities to mitigate disaster.
A clandestine drug lab is a health and safety nightmare for first responders. The chemicals are almost never labelled. The initial on-site team is normally followed by several hazardous materials technicians. These experts need to make sure the crime scene is safe and dangerous items are properly handled before evidence technicians can fully process the scene.
#SafetyBeforeSelfie – Please make sure to exit the burning building before texting, tweeting, posting, or live streaming about it. Surprisingly, the current security and emergency management (EM) environment that exists both in the public and increasingly in the private sector may necessitate such emergency warning statements as part of EM organizations’ risk communication planning.
There is no quick fix for addressing all national security threats. Even if there were, it would still be challenging to keep up with the threat environment as it continually evolves at what seems to be exponential rates. The natural and manmade disasters of yesteryear are compounded with emerging cyber, technological, and other threats that once were only in the imagination of science fiction writers.
The use of genealogy websites to find the alleged Golden State killer, Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data to develop targeted ads for the 2016 presidential campaign, and the loss of privacy resulting from the sharing of information on social media bring into focus some of the unintended consequences of the collection, storage, and proliferation of personal information. The use of data in novel and unexpected ways pits users’ demand for privacy against their desire to take advantage of the many benefits today’s technology has to offer.
Today, businesses face many natural and manmade threats. Focusing on active shooter incidents alone, businesses are targeted more than any other entity. According to a 2014 FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, between 2000 and 2013, most (45.6%) active shooter incidents occurred at businesses, with the next highest being education facilities (24.4%). To address these and other threats, business owners must have a continuity or emergency action plan that highlights mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery.
Each day, there are opportunities to acquire new knowledge and skills as well as opportunities to share current knowledge and skills with others. This is especially true in the emergency preparedness realm, where changing circumstances and uncertainties are the norm.
Illegal manufacturing of fentanyl continues to rise and, with it, the dangers of clandestine drug laboratories to responders. Dangerous crime scenes like these are not limited to any one location. Responders everywhere need to prepare to encounter them at any point. Portable gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC/MS) equipment can help hazardous materials (hazmat) response teams quickly identify white powders, like fentanyl, and associated cutting agents on-scene.
Disasters can take many forms – naturally occurring like a volcanic eruption or solar flare, human-caused like a terrorist attack or radioactive material release, or technological like a cyberattack or data breech. Although a specific threat or hazard may be unavoidable, whether it eventually becomes a “disaster” is not a certainty. Averting disaster requires making the right decisions at the right time – from the crisis leaders to the boots on the ground.