The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Strategic Framework for Countering Terrorism and Targeted violence explains how the department will use the tools and expertise that have protected and strengthened the country from foreign terrorist organizations to address the evolving challenges of domestic terrorism and targeted violence here at home.
While the mission of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) has not changed since Congress established this national repository of emergency medicines and supplies, public health events in the United States during the past 20 years have led to a dramatic expansion of the scope of the stockpile’s capabilities. Originally focused on protecting Americans from bioterrorist threats surrounding the year 2000, or Y2K, the stockpile has grown and evolved to a greater than $8 billion enterprise that contains more than just medical countermeasures (MCMs) for biological and chemical threats. The mission authorized is broad enough to encompass virtually any threat to national health security, and the progress SNS has made operationally lends it to encompassing a continually evolving landscape of risks that might be mitigated.
Understanding history is a critical component of emergency preparedness, response, and resilience. History has a way of exposing preparedness and response gaps and providing a roadmap for best practices going forward. Unfortunately, when not examined and taken into consideration, history tends to repeat itself. As threats evolve over time, the same response to a similar threat (like an active shooter, biological attack, domestic terrorism, or natural disaster) could have even greater consequences. For this and many other reasons, the past must be studied, lessons must be learned, and new approaches must be applied.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued final guidance, “Smallpox (Variola Virus) Infection: Developing Drugs for Treatment or Prevention,” which is designed to assist drug manufacturers designing studies to appropriately establish the safety and efficacy of drugs to treat or prevent smallpox infection. Although smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980, concerns exist that it could remain in unknown locations or be used as a biological weapon.
The U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) studied 41 incidents of targeted school violence that occurred at K-12 schools in the United States from 2008 to 2017. This report offers an in-depth analysis of the motives, behaviors, and situational factors of the attackers, as well as the tactics, resolutions, and other operationally relevant details of the attacks.
There is no way to list or train for the innumerable mass casualty scenarios that a responder could face on any day, at any time, in any place. This means that no emergency response can be perfect and no plan flawless. However, rather than focusing on the “what ifs” after an incident, responders need to decide on the “what nows.” The military and civilian responders to the 16 September 2013 Washington Navy Yard shooting have done that. Not only have the involved agencies created their own lessons learned, they have also coordinated with each other to bridge the response gaps that were exposed. Key takeaways from the shooting as well as actions that have been taken since the incident were shared on 17 September 2019, when public safety agencies throughout the National Capital Region convened to reinforce communications efforts and address any remaining interoperability concerns.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) newest biotechnology funding opportunity aims to incorporate gene editors into detectors for distributed health biosurveillance and rapid, point-of-need diagnostics for endemic, emerging, and engineered pathogenic threats. The goal of the “Detect It with Gene Editing Technologies” (DIGET) program is to provide comprehensive, specific, and trusted information about health threats to medical decision-makers within minutes. This will prevent the spread of disease, enable timely deployment of countermeasures, and improve the standard of care after diagnosis.
A novel diagnostics technology will receive advanced development support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This technology reads gene expression patterns in the immune system to distinguish bacterial infections from viral infections and determines the severity within minutes. Rapid information on whether an infection is viral versus bacterial will help doctors make earlier, better-informed decisions about whether to treat the infection with or without antibiotics.
This report provides an overview of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA), highlights its alignment with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) strategic goals, and describes FEMA’s efforts to implement the law.
The World Health Organization (WHO) prequalified an Ebola vaccine for the first time, a critical step that will help speed up its licensing, access, and roll-out in countries most at risk of Ebola outbreaks. United Nations agencies and the Vaccine Alliance can procure the vaccine for at-risk countries based on this WHO recommendation.
Over the past two decades, the United States has focused heavily on preventing attacks from Islamic terrorism movements – or those inspired by these movements. However, recent attacks in the United States over the past few years have prompted much debate on how to combat the threat of domestic terrorism. Particularly concerning is that the recent surge in white supremacy and right-wing/left-wing extremist movements could inspire others to commit further violent attacks. In response to the most recent attacks in Ohio and Texas, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says it “remains concerned that U.S.-based domestic violent extremists could become inspired by these and previous high-profile attacks to engage in similar acts of violence.” Equally concerning for law enforcement agencies is that a domestic terrorist attack is just as likely as a threat from abroad.
To help address border security and ensure United States Border Patrol (USBP) agents can perform their job both safely and effectively, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) recently collaborated with the USBP and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers to deliver a multi-part solution by implementing innovative tools and capabilities that enable USBP agents to leverage the knowledge, skills, and abilities of expert trackers and use emerging technologies to maximize their tracking performance.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will partner with Cytovale of San Francisco, to advance the development of a test that may be able to diagnose sepsis in less than 10 minutes. Sepsis could pose an even greater health security threat in a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear emergency, or as a complication of an influenza pandemic or other emerging infectious disease outbreak.
With the very real possibility of a chemical attack in public, the United States needs to be prepared to take appropriate action to save lives. The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate has developed a suite of models to help federal agencies analyze threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences of potential attacks to prioritize resources for the most effective defense and response.
The National Response Framework (NRF) provides foundational emergency management doctrine for how the United States responds to all types of incidents. The NRF is built on scalable, flexible, and adaptable concepts identified in the National Incident Management System to align key roles and responsibilities across the nation.
In any disaster, there is a cost beyond the immediate mortality figures following a disaster due to a lack of proper medical supplies and treatment in mass care shelters. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes a weekly “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,” which serves as a clearinghouse for epidemiological reports submitted by state health departments. However, a public health method must go beyond the death tolls and rates and estimate the years of life lost for people who were without medications and treatments (like dialysis) for extended periods of time during and following disasters.
A new Global Health Security (GHS) Index, the first comprehensive assessment and benchmarking of health security and related capabilities across 195 countries, suggests that not a single country in the world is fully prepared to handle an epidemic or pandemic. The inaugural GHS Index finds severe weaknesses in countries’ abilities to prevent, detect, and respond to significant disease outbreaks.
Researchers in Lincoln Laboratory's Chemical and Biological Technologies Group and Advanced Materials and Microsystems Group are using a color-changing technique while developing a self-reading "pH fabric" that could help warn of dangerous chemical releases. This technology could help address the evolving threat of chemical releases, including those from industrial incidents or terrorist attacks.
A new effort is underway to tap a powerful yet under-leveraged technology that will provide government officials and utilities with the first-ever near real time, automated warning when emergency power is threatened at a hospital or other critical healthcare facility grappling with an extended power outage.
This early warning of a threat to emergency power will be provided through the Power P.I.O.N.E.E.R. Dashboard.
FLIR Systems Inc. announced the launch of the FLIR identiFINDER® R425, the next-generation of its field-trusted R400 handheld radionuclide identification device. The identiFINDER R425 provides responders with increased sensitivity, flexible power management, and advanced communication features that enable them to safely locate and measure radioactive sources with confidence.