Saving lives in a public health emergency requires cutting-edge medical countermeasures: medications, vaccines, diagnostics, and more. In some types of emergencies, like an act of bioterrorism, some of those medical products have no commercial market. In 2004, Congress passed the Project BioShield Act to create a market for products necessary for disaster response but with limited or no commercial market.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) announced $35 million in funding opportunities for a new DHS Center of Excellence for Terrorism Prevention and Counterterrorism Research. Accredited U.S. colleges and universities are invited to submit proposals as the center lead or as an individual partner to work with the lead institution in support of the center’s activities.
If a radiological dispersal device (RDD), or “dirty bomb,” ever explodes in the United States, emergency crews may be better prepared because of a simulator developed by a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory visualization technologist. Called the RDD Studio, the model was developed by the Lab’s Ryan Chen to provide a detailed simulation of what an optimal response to an RDD would look like.
As some 300,000 cheering race fans packed the stands at this year’s Indianapolis 500, behind the scenes an advanced network of sensors kept constant vigilance, providing security officials real-time awareness of any potential weapon-of-mass-destruction/terror threat. The deployment marked the first time that DARPA’s SIGMA+ network seamlessly integrated radiological and chemical sensors with biological threat sensors from the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office.
A sensor for detecting toxic gases is now smaller, faster, and more reliable. Its performance sets it up for integration in a highly sensitive portable system for detecting chemical weapons. Better miniature sensors can also rapidly detect airborne toxins where they occur, providing key information to help emergency personnel respond safely and effectively to an incident.
When disaster strikes, providing lifesaving medical care becomes more challenging and complex. To promote the best possible care in disasters, next-generation solutions that harness the power of cutting-edge technology to improve health outcomes are needed. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) is proud to launch ASPR Next, a new program to spur innovation in the development of new technologies and products that can be used to provide lifesaving care in austere circumstances.
The Thomas Fire in December 2017 claimed two lives, burned 281,893 acres, and destroyed more than 1,000 structures before it was contained on 12 January 2018. The Montecito Fire Protection District (MFPD), a small coastal community in California, saw the loss of only seven structures, a remarkably low number given the extreme fire behavior it experienced. The low fire loss was due to the successful mitigation strategies the Montecito community pursued for over two decades beginning in 1994.
The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL) and partners have published guidance and videos for first responders and emergency managers on how to plan for the first minutes of a radiological dispersal device (RDD) detonation response.
Breakthroughs in the science of programmable gene expression inspired Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to establish the PReemptive Expression of Protective Alleles and Response Elements (PREPARE) program with the goal of delivering powerful new defenses against public health and national security threats. DARPA has selected teams to develop new tools for programmable modulation of gene expression, to yield enhanced resilience against influenza and ionizing radiation for service members and first responders.
There are many things to consider in the process of preparing your health and safety for a public health emergency. Memories of emergencies, like the summer 2018 wildfires and the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, are reminders of the threat they can pose to respiratory health. Of equal importance is an item that often gets left out of talks about emergency supplies – the respirator.