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.
With few exceptions, human beings in the United States are literally on life support – plugged in to the electric grid. If that connection is unplugged, everything necessary to sustain the human population stops, including: food, water, fuel, transportation, medical resources, communications, and financial resources. According to a 28 March 2017 Senate report, in a long-term national-scale blackout, millions of U.S. citizens could die. After only a few weeks, deaths would escalate from waterborne diseases, starvation, and societal collapse. Immediate action could reduce these threats.
The 35-day government shutdown of 2018-2019 became the longest in U.S. government history. Food banks, firefighters, and community services agencies ramped up their food and other care services. Much like during natural disasters, a significant number of federal workers and contractors did not have sufficient savings to cover expenses during this hiatus in pay and experienced uncertainty in insurance and other financial considerations during such a lengthy and uncertain time, occurring during the Christmas holidays.
Public-private collaboration in disaster preparedness and response is currently sub-optimal in its organization and operational performance. This may be due to the perception of government entities that all collaboration must be formal in nature. As a consequence, small, medium, and even large private organizations may be reluctant to become involved in preparedness planning. However, reality suggests that organizations without existing contracts or partnerships are willing to participate in response efforts. This tension effectively limits the ability to anticipate the contributions that will come from entities outside of formal partnerships. “Predictable surge” is a new framework through which public and private entities, particularly at the state and local levels, may better work together to build preparedness and foster community resilience.
Imagine this scenario. A tornado watch has been in effect for the past six hours. The severe thunderstorm warning expires as the squall line passes over the area, which escaped significant severe weather. Although the Storm Prediction Center shows the area has been downgraded from enhanced to marginal, the Day 4-8 prediction indicates a 15% chance of severe weather in the area on Wednesday – today is Friday. Here comes another one.
The U.S. government published two landmark emergency management policies in March 2019. The first was the update of the 2015/2016 Space Weather Strategy and Action Plan released from the Office of the President. DomPrep published an article on 15 June 2016 describing how the strategy and action plan affected disaster and emergency operations planning. Then, on 26 March 2019, the Federal Register published the Executive Order of the President 13865 (EO 13865), entitled “Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses,” which outlines the threats to the national (and global), economic, as well as health and safety security.
Birmingham, United Kingdom – Over the past few years, the term “asymmetry” has been applied many times to the emerging threat landscape to first responders and military personnel around the world. Asymmetrical means that two sides do not match or are uneven. Intelligence SEC’s 2019 European CBRNE Summit recently held in Birmingham, United Kingdom, highlighted two of the largest and most prominent chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, high-yield explosive (CBRNE) incidents in the world: The 2018 Salisbury nerve agent attack and the 2017 Manchester concert arena bombing. Intelligence-SEC will be presenting the 2019 Asian CBRNE Summit to be held 3-5 December 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Communities are facing a wide variety of shocks and stresses. Whether it is a natural disaster threat (hurricane, earthquake, flood, wildfire), socioeconomic stressor (homelessness, poverty), or loss of a major employer, communities are looking for strategies to protect their citizens, tax base, and infrastructure (including buildings) from disaster. New tools and benchmarks provide the basis for developing these strategies.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act (MSDHSPSA) was approved by the Florida governor on 9 March 2018. The act implemented numerous new, and at times controversial, laws and requirements for schools, law enforcement, mental health officials, and others. Included in the law was the new requirement for schools to conduct active shooter drills as often as other emergency drills. Since fire drills are usually conducted once a month, the new requirement greatly expanded the number of active shooter (or code red) drills from approximately one to ten per school year in Florida schools.
Homeland security is a complex and ever-evolving challenge whose mitigation necessitates the actions and collaboration of personnel across all branches of government and the private sector. This enhanced complexity presents law enforcement, homeland safety, and security professionals with a myriad of challenges due to an environment overflowing with existential and hybrid threats, technological innovation, interconnectivity, and limited resources.