The terrorist attacks of 9/11 put a spotlight on the gaps that existed and, in many jurisdictions, still exist between public safety agencies. Although most preparedness professionals would agree that it is critical to have interoperable communications, there are factors that hinder achievement of this goal. With careful consideration, agencies can overcome these hurdles.
The National Institutes of Health has been saving the lives of patients diagnosed with Ebola virus. At the same time, Walter Reed Army Institute has been developing and testing a new Ebola vaccine. Montgomery County, Maryland, is home to these world-renowned facilities as well as a leading healthcare coalition that continually prepares for emerging public health threats.
A superstorm, a Navy yard shooting, and a major transit incident are just three examples where a breakdown in communications, incomplete common operating picture, ineffective coordination, and/or lack of situational awareness negatively affected response efforts. Multiagency collaboration and real-time, critical information are needed in both life-threatening and nonemergency situations.
Emergency preparedness is not boring - it is fun, interactive, and educational! In Illinois, preparing for a disaster involves games, parks, and day camps for children. With collaborative efforts and partnerships with a variety of community organizations, these valuable teaching opportunities instill family preparedness practices that last for generations.
As testimony continues in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing case, memories of that day are still fresh in many people's minds - especially for the 16 people who lost limbs on that tragic day. By law, every jurisdiction must have plans and partnerships in place to ensure that those with existing or newly acquired disabilities are properly cared for in any emergency.
In a remote rural area - far from customary amenities, distractions, and other conveniences - players are faced with challenges and must learn to adapt and overcome in order to reap the benefits, otherwise face the consequences. No, this is not a reality television show, but it is an effective "reality" training model that Virginia has perfected to ensure that its emergency responders are prepared to take command if and when needed.
Across the United States, incidents of police officers being targeted in ambush-style attacks have raised great concern. The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police addressed this rising concern by creating reality-based training scenarios that build situational awareness and test officers on incidents they are likely to encounter during routine traffic stops.
Public health and healthcare funding is a priority during a disease outbreak such as Ebola. However, when ongoing funding is unavailable, government agencies must scramble to find ways to support public health response efforts. Three funding opportunities may help address these current gaps and avoid disease-specific funding for response efforts after the threat is realized.
According to a January 2014 Pew Research Center report, 58 percent of adults surveyed in the United States use smartphones. With a growing dependence on these devices, it is important to educate the public on how they can prepare for times when cellular service is not available. During a disaster, smartphones can still be "smart" with the right applications installed.
Although emergency managers plan for all types of disasters that could potentially occur within or around their jurisdictions, cyberattacks present unique challenges when identifying the nature of, and understanding how to respond to, such threats. A true all-hazards approach to emergency preparedness necessarily includes protecting communities against cyberthreats.