april 2018


Public Health Preparedness and Response 2018 National Snapshot

This report highlights preparedness activities and investments at the federal, state, and local levels, and features stories that demonstrate the impact of these activities. There are two sections to this report: the Narrative and Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program Fact Sheets.

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FDA Authorizes New Use of Test, First to Identify the Emerging Pathogen Candida Auris

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the first test to identify the emerging pathogen Candida auris (C. auris), which can cause serious infections in hospitalized patients (e.g., bloodstream infections) and is frequently resistant to multiple antifungal drugs used to treat Candida infections.


Healthcare Response to a No-Notice Incident: Lessons Learned From Las Vegas Festival Shooting

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) staff spoke with responding agencies from the 1 October 2017 Route 91 Harvest Music Festival Las Vegas shooting to help identify lessons learned that can help other communities, specifically members of the nation’s 476 health care coalitions, prepare for, respond to, and recover from these traumatic, no-notice incidents.


FLIR Systems Receives Delivery Order Totaling $25.6 Million From the U.S. Department of Defense for DR-SKO Systems

FLIR Systems Inc. announced it has received a $25.6 million delivery order for 22 U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Dismounted Reconnaissance Sets, Kits, and Outfits (CBRN DR-SKO) systems. The delivery order is under a five-year indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract from the U.S. Department of Defense.


CBRNE Weapons & Islamic State – A Bad Combination

by Richard Schoeberl -

The recent developments concerning the nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom and their alleged country of origin, Russia, have raised fears in the international community. The ease of the attack raises concerns about terrorists utilizing similar methods. This raises questions about the likelihood of a similar attack against the West.


New Joint Effort Boosts Drone Standards for Public Safety Officials

The National Fire Protection Association and ASTM International are joining forces to help the growing number of public safety professionals who want to use drones – also known as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) – to help protect and save lives. The two standards developers signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support a joint working group of about two dozen top experts in public safety and drone technology. 


S&T Announces Release of Mobile Security R&D Program Guide Vol. 2

The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate released its 2018 Mobile Security Research and Development (R&D) Program Guide. The informational guide features an in-depth overview of the Mobile Security R&D Program strategy as well as summaries of the program’s two project areas: Mobile Device Security and Mobile Application Security.


Decontamination Decoded: Disrobing, Dry Wiping Removes 99% of Chemical Contaminants

ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority sponsored a set of scientific studies at the University of Hertfordshire on chemical decontamination. The results of these studies, codified as the Primary Response Incident Scene Management (PRISM) Guidance for Chemical Incidents, will help local emergency management planners and first responders prepare for and respond to disasters involving chemical agents.


Deep South, Southwest, Mountain West Regions Still Lag Behind in Overall Health Security and Emergency Preparedness

An annual assessment of the nation’s day-to-day readiness for managing health emergencies improved significantly over the past five years, though deep regional differences remain. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released the 2018 National Health Security Preparedness Index, which analyzes 140 measures to calculate a composite score that provides the most comprehensive picture of health security available.


The National Health Security Index: Summary of Key Findings

The National Health Security Preparedness Index tracks the nation’s progress in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from the health consequences of disasters, disease outbreaks, and other large-scale emergencies. This report details the key findings from this year’s Index report. 

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North Huntingdon EMS and Dictum Health Bring Clinical Telehealth to Pennsylvania Residents

Dictum Health announced that North Huntingdon EMS/Rescue (NHEMS/R) has added the Dictum Health telehealth solution to their Community Paramedicine/Mobile Integrated Health program. Through the expansion of this program, NHEMS/R expects to collect more complete, timely data on frequent users of emergency medical services using Dictum Health's VER-MEDIC telehealth system and to reduce avoidable hospital visits.


In Search of Infrastructure-Proof Emergency Alerts

by Rodrigo (Roddy) Moscoso -

The increased reliance on emergency text alerts to receive warnings of natural or manmade disasters is a capability that most people have come to expect. Listening to broadcast radio warnings of severe weather happening miles away has transformed into more precise, geo-located alerts that target specific locations. The benefits of this technology are profound and should lead to people taking action when an alert comes in because they know that the threat is timely and accurate to their locations. New technologies could save many lives during future disasters.


HHS Sponsors Its Largest Exercise for Moving Patients With Highly Infectious Diseases

The largest patient movement exercise in U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ history began to test the nationwide ability to move patients with highly infectious diseases safely and securely to regional treatment centers. The exercise focuses on moving seven people acting as patients with Ebola symptoms in different regions of the country.


FEMA Invites Whole Community to Participate in Historic National Level Exercise

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that it is conducting the 2018 National Level Exercise for the whole community, inviting government agencies, private sector and nonprofit organizations, and individuals to participate in the biennial exercise. The exercise will take place 30 April–11 May 2018. The National Level Exercise will test lessons learned from the unprecedented 2017 hurricane season across all levels of government and the private sector.


CARB-X Partners With Specific Diagnostics to Support the Development of a Rapid Accurate Test to Diagnose Life-Threatening Drug-Resistant Infections in the Blood

CARB-X is awarding Specific Diagnostics of Mountain View, California, funding to support the development of the company’s antibiotic susceptibility testing system, which promises accurate drug susceptibility and identification of superbugs within four hours of a positive blood sample, reducing the chance of life-threatening sepsis and other urgent complications of blood infections.


Germs With Unusual Antibiotic Resistance Widespread in U.S.

Health departments working with the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Antibiotic Resistance Lab Network found more than 220 instances of germs with “unusual” antibiotic resistance genes in the United States last year. Germs with unusual resistance include those that cannot be killed by all or most antibiotics, are uncommon in a geographic area or the United States, or have specific genes that allow them to spread their resistance to other germs.


Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, Colleen Hanabusa Introduce Bill to Increase Hawai’i, Nationwide Civil Defense Preparedness

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01) introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen civil defense preparedness in Hawai’i and across the country. The Civil Defense Preparedness Act of 2018 (H.R. 5399) would expand existing Department of Homeland Security terrorism and catastrophic event grant programs to include improving nuclear, biological, and chemical attack preparedness. These grants can be used for training, protective equipment, building reinforcements, and other community preparedness measures.


Improving Local Health Department Cybersecurity

by Justin Snair -

Cyberattacks against local governments are becoming a new normal, yet the nation is not doing enough to prepare local health departments (LHDs) from such attacks. More than just a technological issue addressed by information technology (IT) professionals, cyberattacks can threaten lives and result in losses of integrity, availability, confidentiality, and physical destruction of assets. Cyberattacks can erode the trust and confidence communities have in LHDs and can introduce legal and liability issues when breaches of protected patient health information occur. LHDs should consider cyberattacks, and the myriad of nontechnical issues that may result, as part of their all-hazards preparedness efforts.


Bringing Specialized Training to All Communities

Since 1998, the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC) has been preparing first responders for a wide range of natural and human-caused incidents. Sponsored through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency (DHS/FEMA) National Preparedness Directorate, the NDPC includes seven training partner organizations, each with different lanes of core capabilities:

  • Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) – specializing in mass-casualty hospital training and tactical operations training in contaminated environments
  • The Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center (EMRTC) – specializing in explosives, live explosives, and incendiary devices training
  • National Center for Biomedical Research and Training (NCBRT) – specializing in training for weapons of mass destruction, counterterrorism, and other high-consequence events
  • Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) National Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center (NERRTC) – specializing in incident management, infrastructure preparedness, cybersecurity, sports and special events, emergency medical services, senior and elected officials training and public information
  • National Nuclear Security Administration/CTOS-Center for Radiological/Nuclear Training (NNSA/CTOS) – specializing in weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and radiological/nuclear training
  • National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC) – specializing in natural hazards training
  • Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI)/Security and Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC) – specializing in training for surface transportation involving hazardous materials, weapons of mass destruction, and emergency events

In this podcast, DomPrep Advisor Andrew Roszak talks with NDPC Chairman Colonel Alphonse Davis, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired), and Jeffrey Mayne, ​director of ​Louisiana State University’s NCBRT, to learn more about the Consortium, its partners, the trainings offered, and its ability to adapt to the nation’s constantly changing training needs. For example, recent shooting incidents have increased the demand for campus emergency active shooter programs. The NDPC has created a standardized training model that is applicable to all emergency management disciplines. The training courses are offered at no cost to local, state, and tribal agencies. As of 31 December 2017, the NDPC has trained more than 2.7 million participants.

Listen now to learn more about NDPC, its partners, and this vital training resource.


Returning to Readiness: Strengthening Psychological Resilience by Building Behavioral Health Coalitions

The challenges and issues following a large-scale disaster are often too complex for any one agency or organization to address. Assembling a coalition of community stakeholders can be an effective strategy to determine available health care support services and treatment options, provider information, and possible gaps or duplication of services.


Scientists Develop Sugar-Coated Nanosheets to Selectively Target Pathogens

Researchers have developed a process for creating ultrathin, self-assembling sheets of synthetic materials that can function like designer flypaper in selectively binding with viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. In this way, the new platform, developed by a team led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, could potentially be used to inactivate or detect pathogens.


Grid Security Exercise GridEx IV: Lessons Learned

North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) conducted its fourth biennial grid security and emergency response exercise, GridEx IV, on 15-16 November 2017. GridEx IV consisted of a two-day distributed play exercise and a separate executive tabletop. NERC used participant input to develop observations and propose recommendations to help the electricity industry enhance the security and reliability of North America’s bulk power system. 

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NERC Standards for Bulk Power Physical Security: Is the Grid More Secure?

This report examines changes to the physical security of the electric power grid since the promulgation of North American Electric Reliability Corporation's (NERC) physical security standards. The report discusses the current risk environment for the bulk power system, summarizes the key requirements of NERC’s security standards, reviews observable changes in the utility sector related to physical security, and concludes with an overview of proposed legislation and a discussion of policy issues for Congress.

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Assessing Community Needs in Real-time

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed a new tool to help communities evaluate their needs after natural disasters and understand attitudes and beliefs about specific public health behaviors. CASPER (Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response) is a tool for health departments and public health professionals to assess these and other community needs in real-time.


Five Steps Toward Enhancing Climate Resilience

by Emily Wasley -

People, communities, businesses, and governments around the world are already experiencing the devastating human, economic, and environmental consequences of a changing climate. Many have been impacted by “acute climate shocks” such as wildfires, hurricanes, floods, heatwaves, and severe winter storms – resulting in the loss of lives, livelihoods, and infrastructure. These five steps can help emergency managers build a path to enhance their climate resilience.


FDA Blood Supply and Demand Simulation Model Could Help Nation Prepare for Emergencies

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) developed a blood supply model that estimates the amount of blood available in the system during both routine conditions and emergencies. This model is designed to help public health officials effectively plan strategies that will minimize any disruption of the blood supply should blood collection efforts be reduced as a result of an emergency.


DHS and EPA Are Prepared to Restore Subways in the Event of a Bioterrorist Attack

In September 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate completed a four-year Underground Transport Restoration project in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). S&T and EPA conducted studies and performed exercises to see how disease-causing microbes spread through subway systems, how they can be sampled and cleaned, and how long it takes to be cleaned.


FDA Approves New Treatment for Acute Radiation Syndrome Adding to the Country’s Available Treatments in the Event of Radiological or Nuclear Emergency

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves Leukine for Acute Radiation Syndrome, adding to the nation's available treatments in the event of a radiological or nuclear emergency. Leukine is the third FDA-approved medical countermeasure that is indicated to increase survival in patients exposed to myelosuppressive doses of radiation.