The New York City Board of Health has a long tradition of creating innovative ways to promote better public health practices, but the recent "soda ban" ruling may hinder that innovation in the future. Although still a strong authority for "traditional" public health threats, the public health implications for "nontraditional" public health threats are yet to be seen.
"Unexpected" threats may not be so unexpected, but rather foreseen threats that were not taken seriously. Anthrax, plague, and smallpox were ongoing concerns even before the recent incidents that occurred on U.S. soil. However, local jurisdictions must plan for and be operationally prepared for such no-notice biological incidents.
For emergency managers, the planning process never ends. Rather, it continues to evolve over time. The Georgia Emergency Management Agency embraces this concept and recently updated its mobile app to meet the changing needs of its local communities. This newly redesigned app serves as a template for agencies in other jurisdictions.
Elliot Rodger left many clues about his deadly intentions before killing six university students, injuring 13 others, and ultimately killing himself. Numerous threatening videos, a 140-page manifesto, and vague verbal threats were all pre-attack indicators. Although only hindsight is 20/20, such indicators should provide clearer vision when searching for potential future threats.
The condition of the nation's transit infrastructure is a challenging issue that requires much attention. To address the safety and security concerns, safety professionals are taking a more active role during the plan, design, and build phases of modern transit systems and vehicles. Maryland is one state that is making an effort to maintain its transit systems in a "state of good repair."
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.