july 2020

Commentary

Do Not Stop Exercising – Go Remote!

by Andrew Altizer & James Westbrook -

An important aspect of emergency preparedness is a robust exercise program designed with the vital purpose of identifying gaps, updating plans, and strengthening emergency response. Exercises bring together key stakeholders to help build collaborative relationships that pay huge dividends when the real emergency arises. Simply understanding other agency protocols and operational capabilities are valuable lessons learned from most exercises. However, exercises go beyond the checklists, plans, and policies. They offer the opportunity to get to know other people and solidify teams.

Commentary

Staying Prepared in a Changing World

by Catherine L. Feinman -

Many professions are steeped in tradition, including those in emergency preparedness and response organizations. In these well-established environments, when asked to make a change to traditional practices, the response is sometimes simply, “No, this is how we’ve always done it.” Such thinking can leave communities underprepared for new, emerging, or evolving threats. What worked well 5, 10, or 20 years ago may have lost its effectiveness as times and conditions have changed or there may simply be more options available that have not been considered because of tradition.

Resilience

The Epitome of Failure – Part 3

by William H. Austin -

At the beginning of a 28 May 2020 court hearing, U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup made the following opening statement, “If there ever was a corporation that deserved to go to prison, it is PG&E for the number of people it has killed in California.” Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E) survival for the last decade has been described in some detail in Parts 1 and 2 of this three-part article. The vox populi of the courts, regulators, fellow utilities, businesses, and customers has most of the time fallen on deaf ears with the leadership of PG&E. The facts that create this type of environment are extremely complicated.

Updates

U.S. Army Awards $21.8M Production Contract to FLIR Systems for Nerve Agent Disclosure Spray

FLIR Systems Inc. announced it has been awarded $21.8 million on a contract with the United States Army to deliver its Agentase™ C2 disclosure spray. FLIR Agentase C2 spray quickly changes color on a surface if a chemical warfare agent is present. With faster and more targeted detection, military decontamination experts can locate trace levels of contamination and precisely mitigate the threat.

Reports

Cyber Essentials Toolkit-Chapter 2

The Cyber Essentials Toolkit is a set of modules designed to break down the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Cyber Essentials into bite-sized actions for IT and C-suite leadership to work toward full implementation of each Cyber Essential. This chapter emphasizes the importance of the organization as a whole in cybersecurity, requiring a shift toward a culture of cyber readiness and greater cyber awareness among staff by providing cyber education, training, and other resources.

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Updates

Probabilities, Not Promises: How Computer Models Are Used in Emergency Preparedness & Response

Models have many applications. Epidemiologists use them to predict disease outbreaks. Logisticians use them to estimate supply and demand. Meteorologists use them to forecast the path of severe weather. In most cases, models help officials make informed decisions, including those that affect emergency preparedness and response.

Reports

Runway to Recovery: The United States Framework for Airlines and Airports to Mitigate the Public Health Risks of Coronavirus

This document provides the U.S. government’s guidance to airports and airlines for implementing measures to mitigate the public health risks associated with COVID-19, prepare for an increase in travel volume, and ensure that aviation safety and security are not compromised. It is intended to address public health concerns and support U.S. air carriers and airports as they make decisions and implement changes to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

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Updates

FDA Launches New Era of Smarter Food Safety Initiative, Releases Blueprint and Pilot Study

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint. The blueprint outlines a path forward that builds on the work the FDA has already done through implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The blueprint represents the next stage in this process to help ensure the safest food system in the world.

Preparedness

A New Way of Looking at Earthquake Plans

by Frances Dunniway -

With the inevitability of earthquakes in California, disaster preparedness and evacuation focused on the safety of lives is of utmost importance. The health, welfare, and safety of children are of paramount importance, as children are left in the protection of school district officials. In 2005, California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 103 requiring that each school district have a safety disaster plan in place and charged the U.S. Department of Education to coordinate with Office of Emergency Preparedness to keep these materials current and updated (AB 103, Section 1).

Reports

Cyber Essentials Toolkit-Chapter 1

The Cyber Essentials Toolkit is a set of modules designed to break down the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Cyber Essentials into bite-sized actions for IT and C-suite leadership to work toward full implementation of each Cyber Essential. This chapter focuses on providing leaders with an understanding of what it takes from the top to drive a culture of cyber readiness within their organizations.

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Updates

NIH Launches Clinical Trials Network to Test COVID-19 Vaccines and Other Prevention Tools

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has established a new clinical trials network that aims to enroll thousands of volunteers in large-scale clinical trials testing a variety of investigational vaccines and monoclonal antibodies intended to protect people from COVID-19.

Reports

COVID-19 Planning Guide and Self-Assessment for Higher Education

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in collaboration with Tuscany Strategy Consulting and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation released a comprehensive operational guide and accompanying self-assessment calculator. These tools were designed to provide practical planning resources to help higher education institutions gauge how effectively they are addressing a range of COVID-19 scenarios.

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Updates

DHS Selects George Washington University to Pilot New Center of Excellence in Security Technology Transition

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate announced the selection of The George Washington University to lead a new Center of Excellence that will deliver a pilot Master of Business Administration program focused on security technology transition from federal research and development to operational use.

Resilience

EMS Continuity of Operations Plan: A Critical Lifeline Component

by Ron Cain -

“A lifeline enables the continuous operation of critical government and business functions and is essential to human health and safety or economic security.” The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) developed the Community Lifelines construct after the 2017 and 2018 hurricane seasons. The framework of Community Lifelines allows the whole community to assess the status of and impact to each of the seven lifelines so that the optimal and correct essential action can be executed to support those lifelines not operating at full capacity during a disaster or emergency event.

Reports

Development and Regulation of Medical Countermeasures for COVID-19 (Vaccines, Diagnostics, and Treatments): Frequently Asked Questions

This report answers frequently asked questions about current efforts related to research and development of medical countermeasures, their regulation, and related policy issues. Although several efforts are underway, medical product research, development, and approval is a difficult and high-risk endeavor that takes years in typical circumstances. In response to COVID-19, this process has been expedited, including through several federal programs and mechanisms covered in this report.

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Updates

DHS Announces Grant Allocations for Fiscal Year 2020 Preparedness Grants

As part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) ongoing efforts to support state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, the FY 2020 grant awards will continue to focus on the nation’s highest risk areas. DHS identified four critical priority areas for attention in the FY 2020 grant cycle: cybersecurity, soft targets and crowded places, intelligence and information sharing, and emerging threats.

Updates

FDA Takes Action to Help Facilitate Timely Development of Safe, Effective COVID-19 Vaccines

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took important action to help facilitate the timely development of safe and effective vaccines to prevent COVID-19. The FDA provides guidance with recommendations for those developing COVID-19 vaccines for the ultimate purpose of licensure. The guidance provides an overview of key considerations to satisfy requirements for chemistry, manufacturing and control, nonclinical and clinical data through development and licensure, and for post-licensure safety evaluation.