The Electric Grid – Overcoming Vulnerability | Domestic Preparedness Photo: ©

The Electric Grid – Overcoming Vulnerability

by Michael Mabee -

In 1850 – nine years before the Carrington Event and 12 years before the Civil War – the population of the United States was 23 million people. At the end of 2018, the population of the U.S. had reached 328 million people. What enabled the population to increase by 305 million people is quite simple: technology. New technologies that promoted this growth include: advances in medicine, advances in agricultural methods, the ability to transport food across the country (and across the world), new sources and uses of energy, an industrial revolution, advances in many areas of technology, and so on. All of these technologies are tied to one significant event: the advent of the electric grid.


Evolving the Scope of the Strategic National Stockpile

by Greg Burel -

While the mission of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) has not changed since Congress established this national repository of emergency medicines and supplies, public health events in the United States during the past 20 years have led to a dramatic expansion of the scope of the stockpile’s capabilities. Originally focused on protecting Americans from bioterrorist threats surrounding the year 2000, or Y2K, the stockpile has grown and evolved to a greater than $8 billion enterprise that contains more than just medical countermeasures (MCMs) for biological and chemical threats. The mission authorized is broad enough to encompass virtually any threat to national health security, and the progress SNS has made operationally lends it to encompassing a continually evolving landscape of risks that might be mitigated.


Laying the Groundwork for Combating Future Threats

by Catherine L. Feinman -

Understanding history is a critical component of emergency preparedness, response, and resilience. History has a way of exposing preparedness and response gaps and providing a roadmap for best practices going forward. Unfortunately, when not examined and taken into consideration, history tends to repeat itself. As threats evolve over time, the same response to a similar threat (like an active shooter, biological attack, domestic terrorism, or natural disaster) could have even greater consequences. For this and many other reasons, the past must be studied, lessons must be learned, and new approaches must be applied.


2013 Navy Yard Shooting: Lessons Learned, Actions Taken

by Catherine L. Feinman -

There is no way to list or train for the innumerable mass casualty scenarios that a responder could face on any day, at any time, in any place. This means that no emergency response can be perfect and no plan flawless. However, rather than focusing on the “what ifs” after an incident, responders need to decide on the “what nows.” The military and civilian responders to the 16 September 2013 Washington Navy Yard shooting have done that. Not only have the involved agencies created their own lessons learned, they have also coordinated with each other to bridge the response gaps that were exposed. Key takeaways from the shooting as well as actions that have been taken since the incident were shared on 17 September 2019, when public safety agencies throughout the National Capital Region convened to reinforce communications efforts and address any remaining interoperability concerns.


Domestic Terrorism – Defining a Real Threat

by Richard Schoeberl & Anthony (Tony) Mottola -

Over the past two decades, the United States has focused heavily on preventing attacks from Islamic terrorism movements – or those inspired by these movements. However, recent attacks in the United States over the past few years have prompted much debate on how to combat the threat of domestic terrorism. Particularly concerning is that the recent surge in white supremacy and right-wing/left-wing extremist movements could inspire others to commit further violent attacks. In response to the most recent attacks in Ohio and Texas, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says it “remains concerned that U.S.-based domestic violent extremists could become inspired by these and previous high-profile attacks to engage in similar acts of violence.” Equally concerning for law enforcement agencies is that a domestic terrorist attack is just as likely as a threat from abroad.


More People in the United States Dying From Antibiotic-Resistant Infections Than Previously Estimated

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its updated Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States Report (AR Threats Report), which shows that there were nearly twice as many annual deaths from antibiotic-resistant infections as CDC originally reported in 2013. CDC’s 2019 report establishes a new national baseline of infections and deaths from antibiotic-resistant germs. The new report categorizes the top antibiotic-resistant threats based on level of concern to human health: urgent, serious, or concerning.

FDA Issues Final Guidance for Development of Smallpox Treatments as Part of Critical Preparedness Efforts

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued final guidance, “Smallpox (Variola Virus) Infection: Developing Drugs for Treatment or Prevention,” which is designed to assist drug manufacturers designing studies to appropriately establish the safety and efficacy of drugs to treat or prevent smallpox infection. Although smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980, concerns exist that it could remain in unknown locations or be used as a biological weapon.

Gene Editors Could Find New Use as Rapid Detectors of Pathogenic Threats

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) newest biotechnology funding opportunity aims to incorporate gene editors into detectors for distributed health biosurveillance and rapid, point-of-need diagnostics for endemic, emerging, and engineered pathogenic threats. The goal of the “Detect It with Gene Editing Technologies” (DIGET) program is to provide comprehensive, specific, and trusted information about health threats to medical decision-makers within minutes. This will prevent the spread of disease, enable timely deployment of countermeasures, and improve the standard of care after diagnosis.

HHS Advances Development of Tests to Distinguish Bacterial From Viral Infections Across Multiple Healthcare Settings

A novel diagnostics technology will receive advanced development support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This technology reads gene expression patterns in the immune system to distinguish bacterial infections from viral infections and determines the severity within minutes. Rapid information on whether an infection is viral versus bacterial will help doctors make earlier, better-informed decisions about whether to treat the infection with or without antibiotics.

WHO Prequalifies Ebola Vaccine, Paving the Way for Its Use in High-Risk Countries

The World Health Organization (WHO) prequalified an Ebola vaccine for the first time, a critical step that will help speed up its licensing, access, and roll-out in countries most at risk of Ebola outbreaks. United Nations agencies and the Vaccine Alliance can procure the vaccine for at-risk countries based on this WHO recommendation.