New technologies and response equipment - combined with social media and mobile applications - are changing the way law enforcement agencies protect themselves and their communities. What were once only possible in science-fiction movies are increasingly growing in use within law enforcement communities across the nation - drones, facial recognition, and instant data access and analysis.
Preparing for any disaster is essential for an effective incident response. However, by failing to properly prepare and train employees, agencies also are more vulnerable to potential liabilities. Past legal cases and court rulings highlight the consequences that agencies have faced as a result of inadequate training practices. Reduced funding may not an acceptable excuse.
New technologies and equipment mean new training concerns. Ensuring that responders are capable of choosing the right equipment for an incident, knowing how to use it, and accurately interpreting the results are regular challenges for first responders and hazardous materials teams. To address these challenges, experts offer multi-technology support.
Many cities across the United States are not adequately prepared to accommodate people with disabilities during and in the wake of major disasters. However, some of the current gaps in whole-community preparedness are beginning to close. If more-inclusive planning efforts continue to expand, communities will be able to better meet the needs of all of its citizens.
Despite the fact that emergency managers and their public health partners have much in common, they often do not collaborate effectively in responding to mass-casualty emergencies. By identifying existing similarities and finding more common ground, the future preparedness and response efforts of both groups will be even more successful.
Law enforcement officers, medical examiners, and coroners are now able to accumulate more data more quickly in their efforts to solve missing-person cases. Moreover, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System not only provides a wealth of helpful information to public agencies but also empowers families to help locate their loved ones.
During a bioterrorism event, the need to help 50,000 people seeking lifesaving medications can seem impossible for an already overwhelmed public healthcare facility. One solution for alleviating the congestion is to distribute medical countermeasures through other venues - for example, colleges and universities, businesses, and various private sector agencies and organizations.
Most disaster responses necessarily include a public health component. Emergency managers must always be aware of that fact when dealing with emerging threats and their possible consequences. By incorporating a public health response into emergency management planning, the nation will be much better prepared for the next pandemic or biological attack.
Although traditionally serving the military community, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is now playing an increasingly important role in support of the U.S. civilian community - both domestically and abroad. As recent natural disasters have demonstrated, the Department has both the ability and the willingness to provide services that promote whole-of-community resilience.
Earthquakes have changed the course of rivers, tornadoes have uprooted and moved trees and homes, and other types of disasters have caused terrain and geographical changes that made it difficult for residents to recognize their own neighborhoods. Geographic information systems offer emergency managers and responders a valuable tool to help build more resilient communities.