First responder agencies must prepare for a variety of incidents that may occur within or near their jurisdictions. Even when an incident involving the movement of large numbers of people - for example, passenger rail transit - does not result in a mass-casualty scenario, many special considerations must be made to protect those who respond.
When a radiological incident occurs, the consequences can be devastating. However, the frequency and probability of such incidents limit many jurisdictions from being fully prepared and trained. Illinois officials understand the threat and conduct annual exercises to ensure that jurisdictions in and around its nuclear facilities are ready for their potential emergency response roles.
The Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964 did more than advance the study of plate tectonics, it demonstrated to the world that communities can be resilient following a catastrophic incident when everyone works together. In 2014, Alaskans will lead the nation in a full-scale exercise that will bring the earthquake from 50 years ago into modern society.
The average person in the United States uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water per day. California's multiyear drought has broken new records, created unprecedented reductions in water supply, and demands personal conservation techniques. The Governor's Office of Emergency Services has been leading the charge toward mitigating this widespread disaster.
Diverting a tornado, deflecting high winds, and steering a hurricane away from landfall are not within the scope of practice for emergency planners and managers. However, planning and training for a large-scale natural disaster with the right tools will help jurisdictions prepare for both common and uncommon incidents.
The benefits of owning a beach property come with a great risk of flooding. As Superstorm Sandy demonstrated in 2012, the National Flood Insurance Program cannot sustain rebuilding efforts at the existing insurance rates. This means making difficult choices: build and incur significant costs; raise properties into the air; or move away from flood zones.
A "cyber Pearl Harbor" is imminent, according to government and industry experts. Recognizing the threat and implementing programs and training to better guard against such threats is critical to protect the various U.S. infrastructure systems and networks.
One lesson learned from the National Security Agency leaks in 2013 is that disrupting terrorist activities in cyberspace requires more than just the latest technology. Human interaction plays a critical role in thwarting criminal activity while protecting personal information and privacy. Canada offers one example of leveraging human networks and professional information sharing.
Since 2003, the CHEMPACK program has been in place to help protect U.S. emergency responders and receivers, as well as civilians, in the event of a nerve-agent attack. By pre-positioning medical countermeasures, antidotes are readily available as needed. It is now time to reevaluate and update the program to include changes that have occurred over the past decade.
A zombie apocalypse or sharknado attack may not be imminent, but the opportunities they present to emergency management professionals are compelling. In Virginia, emergency planners are showing the human side of emergency management, connecting with community members, and influencing personal and community preparedness.