august 2017

Commentary

Mass Fatalities – More Than Just a Number

by Ron Vidal & Catherine L. Feinman -

A chemical spill, nuclear attack, biological agent, pandemic, hurricane, and numerous other threats and hazards have the potential to kill enough people to overwhelm any particular jurisdiction. Whether that number is 10 or 10,000 or more, the “unthinkable” can happen anywhere. On 16 June 2017, DomPrep hosted a panel discussion on this topic at the International Hazardous Materials Response Teams Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. The key takeaways from that session are summarized here.

Commentary

Disasters Are About the People

by Catherine L. Feinman -

Hurricane Harvey has caused widespread destruction, and its aftermath continues to pose a significant threat to life and safety. In this and other large-scale incidents, the exact number of people affected is hard to determine because of the complex physical and social networks that exist within and between jurisdictional boundaries. Knowing how to manage the lives lost and the lives affected is a challenge. However, when preparing for a catastrophic event, it is important to remember that even one lost life can have devastating effects on a community.

Commentary

In Memoriam MG Timothy J Lowenberg (Ret.)

On 27 August 2017, DomPrep and the Preparedness Leadership Council  lost a long-time friend and the nation lost a highly revered icon of domestic preparedness and homeland security. Major General (Ret.) Timothy J. Lowenberg (Washington National Guard) was above all a public servant who sought to protect the lives and safety of all Americans. His knowledge and dedication were the tools that made him an effective advocate for homeland security issues.

Updates

Stay Safe After Hurricanes, Flooding

Hurricanes can cause dangerous and destructive high winds, flooding, heavy rain, and storm surges. Keep your family safe after a hurricane has made landfall. There may be a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, downed power lines, and mold, among others. Key recommendations and tips included.

Healthcare

When Pandemic Management Meets Cybersecurity

by Nitin Natarajan -

When faced with a health crisis such as a pandemic, the primary objective is ensuring the health and well being of the public and finding the fastest and easiest method to limit the spread of disease and take care of those who are sick. Cyberthreats can hinder public health efforts if mitigation steps are not taken and partners are not engaged before a pandemic or other public health crisis occurs.

Resilience

Mortuary Logistic Challenges of Mass Fatality Incidents

by O. Shawn Cupp -

Today in the United States, some in society are hesitant to acknowledge or plan for “failure options” – in other words, admit that the worst of the worst can happen. The military requires planning for just about every situation including when operations do not go as planned. However, those in emergency management and domestic preparedness operations need to consider tragedy and events unimaginable to most people

Healthcare

Responding to Unique Operating Environments

by Seth Komansky -

First responders are often deployed to unique operating environments, which include large-scale special events with many participants and spectators: street festivals; road races or marathons; concerts; and sporting events. These environments require leadership to take a forward-thinking posture in the planning process to develop strategy. It also relies on front-line personnel to execute tactics that vary from day-to-day operations.

Updates

FDA Provides New Tools for the Development and Proper Evaluation of Tests for Detecting Zika Virus Infection

As an additional measure in the fight against Zika virus, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it has made available a panel of human plasma samples to aid in the regulatory evaluation of serological tests to detect recent Zika virus infection.

Preparedness

Mass Fatality Incidents & Challenges for First Responders

by Daryl D. Sensenig -

Mass fatality incidents present many challenges. To effectively plan for such events, certain key factors must be taken into consideration: common causes and challenges, as well as resources available. By communicating with the local medical examiner/coroner, being familiar with mass fatality plans, and learning about any pertinent capabilities and limitations, emergency planners can make informed decisions and close existing gaps.

Reports

Recommendations on Selection and Use of Personal Protective Equipment and Decontamination Products for First Responders Against Exposure Hazards to Synthetic Opioids, Including Fentanyl and Fentanyl Analogues

Increased illicit use of opioids, including synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and its analogue carfentanil, is a source of increased risk to responders. This document establishes guidance for personal protective equipment selection and use, decontamination, detection, and medical countermeasures for first responders who may be exposed to opioids in the course of their occupational activities.

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Updates

DHS S&T Evaluates TSA Touch-Free Fingerprint Scanners

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is working with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to evaluate new identity verification technology that can reduce the time it takes for travelers to pass through security. In June, TSA began conducting a series of proof-of-concept tests for new biometric fingerprint technology.

Reports

A Short History of Biological Warfare: From Pre-History to the 21st Century

This short monograph reviews the history of biological warfare from prehistory to the present. It covers what is known about the practice of biological warfare and briefly describes the programs that developed biological warfare weapons based on the best available research.

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Updates

DHS S&T Awards Metronome Software $750K to Strengthen Security of First Responder Sensor Systems

Metronome Software, with funding provided by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), is developing a technology solution that will significantly enhance the security of mobile device-based sensor systems used by first responders. This solution will provide multilayer threat protection and immediate situational awareness to first responders.

Updates

CPUC Unveils CalEclipse.org For Californians to Take the Pledge To Do Your Thing During the Great Solar Eclipse

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unveiled CalEclipse.org with a call to Californians to Do Your Thing and reduce electricity use during The Great Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017. This will allow California to burn fewer fossil fuels and emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions when California’s solar energy production dips during the eclipse.

Updates

CDC Invests More Than $200 Million to Help States Respond to Infectious Disease Threats

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded more than $200 million through the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases cooperative agreement to help states, cities, counties, and territories prevent, detect, respond to, and control the growing threats posed by emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.

Commentary

Physically Uninjured – A Survivor’s Perspective

by Lisa Hamp -

A mass casualty incident leaves many victims in its wake. Beyond those who are tragically killed, survivors also suffer from the physical and psychological effects of the incident. Unfortunately, the psychologically injured can sometimes go unnoticed. One survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 recounts her story of survival and her journey back to recovery.

Commentary

Planning for the Community vs. Planning for the Plan

by W. Craig Fugate -

Imagine a family losing their home, their belongings – everything. With nowhere to go, they find the nearest shelter, only to be turned away due to shelter restrictions. Maybe it was because they have a dog, or one of their children has a disability, or they have an elderly parent with them. Regardless of the reason, they are turned away. When planning for a community, that should never happen.

Updates

NIST Funds 12 Projects to Make Communities More Resilient to Disasters

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology(NIST) has awarded just over $6 million for 12 disaster resilience research projects. The grants support NIST’s efforts to strengthen the ability of communities to prepare for anticipated hazards, adapt to changing conditions, and withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions.

Reports

New York City Health Care System Preparedness Annual Report

The New York City Health Department, Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response issued the first annual report on Health Care System Preparedness. The report documents the collaborative work between the Health Department and health care facilities across New York City and the region. The agency works closely with the entire health care system to prepare for emergencies.

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Updates

DHS Selects George Mason University for Criminal Investigations and Network Analysis Center of Excellence

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate announced the selection of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, to lead a consortium of U.S. academic institutions and other partners for a new Center of Excellence in Criminal Investigations and Network Analysis.

Healthcare

Wearable Sensors for Chemical & Biological Detection

by Richard M. Ozanich -

One of the strengths of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is the ability to conduct comprehensive technology foraging and objective assessments of various technology areas. This article highlights leading research by others in the area of chemical and biological (chem/bio) detection that could be further developed into robust, highly integrated wearables to aid preparedness, response, and recovery.

Resilience

Plan Big, Even to Respond Small

by Donald (Doc) Lumpkins -

In emergency planning efforts, there is much debate about whether to plan for the worst and scale down, or plan for current threats and scale up. Of course, in complex systems, small changes in initial conditions can have profound effects. By considering larger, low-frequency events, communities can overcome this challenge and be better prepared for disasters of all sizes.

Updates

Center For Health Security Publishes First Working Definition of Global Catastrophic Biological Risks

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security published the first working definition of Global Catastrophic Biological Risks (GCBRs) to place new focus on a special category of biological risks that have received limited research and effort given their potential for harm to humanity: future flu pandemics, novel strains of contagious pathogens, biological accidents, threats to food supplies, or artificial organisms.

Updates

Emergent BioSolutions Awarded $23 Million to Develop Novel Multi-Drug Auto-Injector for U.S. Department of Defense

Emergent BioSolutions Inc. announced that it has been awarded approximately $23 million to develop a novel multi-drug auto-injector for nerve agent antidote delivery. Emergent’s device is being designed for intramuscular self- or buddy-administration of antidotes for use in military environments and for civilian emergencies.

Reports

Federal Disaster Assistance Response and Recovery Programs: Brief Summaries

This report is designed to assist members of Congress and their staff as they address the needs of their states, communities, and constituents after a disaster. It includes a summary of federal programs that provide federal disaster assistance to individual survivors, states, territories, local governments, and nongovernmental entities following a natural or manmade disaster.

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Updates

New Phase Change Mechanism Could Lead to New Class of Chemical Vapor Sensors

An interdisciplinary team of scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory demonstrated that monolayer 2D Transition Metal Dichalcogenides – atomically thin semiconductors – undergo a change from semiconductor-to-metallic phase when exposed to airborne chemical vapors. The team validated evidence of the phase transition and how the behavior can be used to create an entirely new class of chemical vapor sensors.

Updates

DHS S&T Selects Cyber Apex Solutions for Applied Cybersecurity Research

The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate awarded a five-year Other Transaction Agreement, with a maximum value of $70 million, to Cyber Apex Solutions LLC, which is based in Arlington, Virginia. This contract will fund testing, evaluation, and transition of prototype cybersecurity technologies that will reduce risk of cyberattacks to critical infrastructure sectors.

Preparedness

Preparing for High-Impact, Low-Probability (HILP) Events

by Jerome H. Kahan -

The interconnected global environment can increase the number of vulnerabilities as well as the destabilizing effects of both natural and human-caused disasters. As such, when a high-impact, low-probability event occurs, the consequences can be devastating. To prepare for such events, planners must observe trends, predict futures, and create scenarios for better mitigating any potential threat.

Updates

TSA Raising Aviation Security Baseline With Stronger Domestic Security Measures

To ensure the security of airline passengers and the nation’s airports, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is implementing new, stronger screening procedures for carry-on items that require travelers to place all electronics larger than a cellphone in bins for X-ray screening in standard lanes.