october 2019

Commentary

Overcoming Healthcare Challenges & Finding Solutions

by Catherine L. Feinman -

The healthcare industry presents many challenges for emergency preparedness professionals. The planning process for a major crisis involves numerous stakeholders, each with their own plans and procedures. Emergency medical services and hospitals, in particular, are tasked with managing dynamic, ever-changing environments that are difficult to predict. A medical surge could easily lead to shortages in critical resources if mutual aid agreements, healthcare coalitions, and other collaborative efforts are not already in place before disaster strikes.

Resilience

The Value of Crisis Communications

by Anthony S. Mangeri -

The role of the emergency management systems is to bring calm to chaos. The role of the public information officer (PIO) is to disseminate information that is credible, accurate, and reliable. It is a critical component of the initial response to meet the informational needs of residents – trusted, credible information aids in bringing calm.

Updates

HAAS Alert Collision Prevention for Emergency Responders

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly six million Americans are involved in a car accident annually, including 60,000 first responders. In an effort to reduce first responder related crashes, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate is collaborating with “HAAS Alert,” a Chicago-based company developing and standardizing C-V2X (cellular vehicle-to-everything) technology that enables emergency response vehicles to send real-time digital alerts to supplement their lights and sirens.

Updates

The Power of Partnership: BARDA Ushers in 50th FDA-Approved Product for Health Security

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) is proud to have established unique partnerships with industry that create solutions for the American people. By working together, they have earned their 50th and 51st U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals, licensures, and clearances in the past 12 years for products that address some of the nation’s most challenging health security threats.

Updates

FDA Allows Marketing of First Rapid Diagnostic Test for Detecting Ebola Virus Antigens

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed marketing of a rapid diagnostic test to detect Ebola virus antigens (proteins) in human blood from certain living individuals and samples from certain recently deceased individuals suspected to have died from Ebola. The OraQuick Ebola Rapid Antigen Test is the first rapid diagnostic test the FDA has allowed to be marketed in the United States for the Ebola Virus Disease.

Updates

Landslide Risks Highlighted in New Online Tool

In collaboration with state geological surveys and other federal agencies, the U.S. Geological Survey has compiled much of the existing landslide data into a searchable, web-based interactive map called the U.S. Landslide Inventory Map. Existing digital data on landslide occurrence are held by a range of federal, state, and local government agencies, and no central point of access has previously been available.

Updates

S&T Assesses Portable Instruments That Help First Responders Identify Unknown Chemicals

The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) System Assessment and Validation for Emergency Responders (SAVER) Program, managed by S&T’s National Urban Security Technology Laboratory, recently assessed three portable field Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometers (GC/MS) used for analyzing chemical samples. This assessment assists first responders to know which hazmat detectors suit both their needs and their budgets.

Healthcare

Overcoming Challenges of Hospital Preparedness Plans

by Stephen Gibson -

Transitioning from public sector emergency management for a large city to emergency management for a private sector hospital is not easy. The fundamentals of emergency preparedness are the same, but the hospital setting has unique challenges. Each day, there are different numbers of people within the hospital. Some days, the occupants exceed hospital capacity during normal operating conditions. There is no set vulnerable population as the demographics of the population changes hourly. Having a large turnover of people in the hospital because of appointments, outpatient surgeries, visitors, and vendors makes preparedness efforts more challenging.

Updates

HHS Explores Lung-on-a-Chip Technology in Developing Chemical Injury Treatments

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will support tests of organ-on-a-chip technology to determine how it can be used to understand injuries caused by inhaled chlorine gas, a potential national security threat, and to develop treatments for those injuries.

Updates

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month: A Reminder to Safeguard Your Personal Information Online

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, held every October, raises awareness of the importance of cybersecurity and encourages Americans to take steps to prevent cyber incidents at home and in the workplace. Whether you are updating your latest social media posts, surfing the web, or paying a bill, it is important that you take the necessary measures to protect your information.

Updates

S&T’s NUSTL Assesses In-Suit Communications Equipment

In August 2019, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) National Urban Science and Technology Laboratory (NUSTL) conducted a System Assessment and Validation for Emergency Responders (SAVER) field assessment of in-suit communications equipment, which is the most common way for emergency responders to communicate with each other during an emergency scenario where personal protective equipment must be worn.

Updates

HHS Advances Novel Technology to Meet Need for Blood Platelets in a Nuclear Disaster

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will support development of technology that, for the first time, could produce platelets outside the human body. If successful, the technology would improve U.S. emergency preparedness by making additional blood products available to save lives during a radiological or nuclear emergency.

Reports

Pre-Disaster Recovery Planning Guide for Tribal Governments

The Pre-Disaster Recovery Planning Guide for Tribal Governments is designed to prepare tribal governments for recovery efforts from future disasters by engaging with the whole community and planning for recovery activities that are comprehensive and long term. The guide also provides tools for public engagement and for identifying existing recovery resources and outside partnerships that could help tribal governments build resilience.

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Healthcare

The Early Years: Shaping a National Stockpile for Preparedness

by Greg Burel -

In today’s emergency response landscape, public health jurisdictions across the United States rely on the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) when incidents prove large enough or severe enough to deplete medicines and supplies needed to protect communities. In just 20 years, the SNS – now managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) – has grown to a $7 billion enterprise poised to respond to a variety of public health threats. These threats include anthrax, botulism, smallpox, plague, tularemia and viral hemorrhagic fevers, as well as emerging infectious diseases, pandemic influenza, natural disasters, and other chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear incidents. Although predicting the future of any program is challenging, the SNS has evolved from humble beginnings to a formidable component of national security.

Updates

HHS Funds Development of Two Filovirus Vaccines for Biodefense, Public Health

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will support the simultaneous development of individual vaccine candidates against Marburg virus and Sudan ebolavirus infections. Together, these vaccine candidates will represent key enhancements in the U.S. preparedness posture for the potential public health and biodefense threats posed by these viruses.

Reports

A World At Risk: Annual Report on Global Preparedness for Health Emergencies

The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board explores and identifies the most urgent needs and actions required to accelerate preparedness for health emergencies, focusing in particular on biological risks manifesting as epidemics and pandemics. The Board identified seven actions for implementation to prepare for pressing threats.

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Updates

HHS Awards $6 Million to Create Pediatric Disaster Care Centers of Excellence

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR) awarded $6 million to support the creation of two Pediatric Disaster Care Centers of Excellence as a pilot project to improve disaster response capabilities for children in the United States.

Updates

U.S. Army Awards $35.1 Million Contract to FLIR Systems for New Chemical Agent Disclosure Spray

FLIR Systems Inc. announced it has won an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract worth up to $35.1 million with the U.S. Army to deliver a new version of the company’s Agentase™ C2 chemical agent disclosure spray to detect sulfur mustard, a highly toxic chemical warfare agent. FLIR Agentase C2 spray quickly changes color on a surface if a chemical warfare agent is present.

Updates

FDA Approves First Live, Non-Replicating Vaccine to Prevent Smallpox and Monkeypox

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the approval of Jynneos Smallpox and Monkeypox Vaccine, Live, Non-Replicating, for the prevention of smallpox and monkeypox disease in adults 18 years of age and older determined to be at high risk for smallpox or monkeypox infection. This vaccine is also part of the Strategic National Stockpile.

Podcast

Podcast: Opioid Epidemic & Narcan’s Unintended Consequences

In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency related to the opioid crisis. Indeed, overdoses and deaths from opioids have skyrocketed over the past decade. In 2017, deaths from opioids were six times higher than in 1999. Opioids impact the quality of life and longevity, as well as have tremendous social and economic impacts on communities throughout the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that the total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse costs over $78 billion per year.

In addition to the financial toll, deaths from opioids have been increasing steadily and have overtaken deaths due to motor vehicle crashes. Approximately 130 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose and around 68% of drug overdose deaths in 2017 were opioid related.

Communities have been actively looking at ways to reduce the impact of opioids and curb these upward trends. One solution that several jurisdictions have embraced is providing Narcan (naloxone) to members of the public. Narcan is an opioid antagonist and, when administered, it can cause the complete or partial reversal of an opioid overdose.

Although emergency medical services (EMS) agencies have been giving Narcan for years, the introduction of this drug to untrained citizens is a relatively new approach. Experienced EMS providers understand that administering Narcan is certainly not without risk. Individuals suffering from an overdose that are treated with Narcan undergo rapid withdrawal, which can lead to erratic behavior and violence.

Sadly, a recent example of this danger occurred in Appleton, Wisconsin – where a firefighter was killed and a police officer shot after an unconscious individual suffering from an opioid overdose was treated with Narcan. After administering two doses of Narcan, the man regained consciousness. EMS crews attempted to persuade the man to be transported to the hospital for follow-up treatment and evaluation. The man became agitated and pulled out a 380-caliber handgun from concealment. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the dangers faced by first responders each day, and has caused some departments to rethink or institute policies regarding searching unconscious victims prior to Narcan administration.

This podcast, recorded on 24 September 2019, includes EMS professionals with decades of experience. This podcast explores the issues surrounding the opioid epidemic, explains how EMS is handling this new public health crisis, and discusses the possible unintended consequences of making Narcan available to citizens.

Healthcare

Opioid Epidemic & Narcan’s Unintended Consequences

by Andrew Roszak -

In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency related to the opioid crisis. Indeed, overdoses and deaths from opioids have skyrocketed over the past decade. In 2017, deaths from opioids were six times higher than in 1999. Opioids impact the quality of life and longevity, as well as have tremendous social and economic impacts on communities throughout the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that the total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse costs over $78 billion per year.

Updates

Acting Secretary McAleenan Announces DHS Strategy for Combating Terrorism and Targeted Violence

Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Kevin K. McAleenan announces the new DHS Strategic Framework for Combating Terrorism and Targeted Violence. The strategic framework offers a vision to expand DHS’s counterterrorism mission to face modern threats, at home and abroad, by implementing proven, whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches.