september 2018

Reports

Actions Needed to Improve Management of DOD’s Biosafety and Biosecurity Program

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has made progress by taking a number of actions to address the 35 recommendations from the Army’s 2015 investigation report on the inadvertent shipments of live Bacillus anthracis (anthrax). The U.S. Government Accountability Office reviewed DOD documents and key actions in response to the Army’s recommendations and conducted site visits to DOD’s laboratories to develop this report.

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Updates

Statement by Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen on the Release of the National Cyber Strategy

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen released a statement on the National Cyber Strategy: “The Trump administration has taken bold steps to strengthen our security and prosperity in cyberspace in the face of growing threats and competition. Today’s National Cyber Strategy – the first in fifteen years – strengthens the government’s commitment to work in partnership with industry to combat those threats and secure our critical infrastructure.”

Reports

2018 National Cyber Strategy

As all facets of American life have become more dependent on a secure cyberspace, new vulnerabilities have been revealed and new threats continue to emerge. Building on the National Security Strategy and the Administration’s progress over its first 18 months, the 2018 National Cyber Strategy outlines how the United States will ensure the American people continue to reap the benefits of a secure cyberspace.

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Resilience

FEMA Challenges & Responses, 2017-2018

by Kay C. Goss -

The overall goal of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), emergency management programs, and the profession of emergency management is to have the disaster system be federally supported, state managed, and locally executed. FEMA maintains a delicate and fragile balance between leading and nurturing this enormous system and this exciting profession. At the same time, disasters are becoming more frequent, more intense, and more expensive. Nevertheless, as the U.S. Department of Defense has said it can fight three wars at once, FEMA and its partners could handle three disasters at once. Currently, though, FEMA is clearly faced with handling much more than three major disasters at once.

Commentary

September – A Busy Month of Preparedness

by Martin Masiuk -

September always seems to be a very busy month, not just because it is preparedness month but also considering the large number of meetings, conferences, contract/budget/procurement cycles, and so on. This is true for Team DomPrep too. Two important events happened last week that need to be shared with the readership.

Updates

Secretary Nielsen Swears in New Homeland Security Advisory Council Members

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen met with the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) to discuss her priorities for the Department. The group discussed a range of homeland security issues and Secretary Nielsen swore in eight new members to the HSAC: Jayson P. Ahern, Stewart A. Baker, Frank J. Cilluffo, Mark J. Dannels, Carol DiBattiste, Cathy Lanier, Wendy Smith-Reeve, and Chad Sweet.

Reports

Public Health Surveillance: Preparing for the Future

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) goal for federally supported surveillance activities is to get the right information into the right hands at the right time. A strategic plan to improve surveillance at the CDC was launched in February 2014 to better achieve this goal. This report is a summary of highlighted results from their work to improve surveillance. 

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Updates

New SAFETY Act Best Practices Guide to Commercial Building Security Now Available

A new web-based tool can help security professionals for commercial office buildings perform assessments based on the Best Practices for Anti-Terrorism Security (BPATS) for commercial office buildings. With best practices developed by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, in partnership with the National Institute of Building Sciences, building owners seeking protections under the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act can use the tool when developing their application packages.

Reports

Homeland Security National Risk Characterization – Risk Assessment Methodology

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Policy– Strategy, Plans, Analysis, and Risk, asked the RAND National Defense Research Institute to design and implement a risk identification and characterization of natural and manmade threats and hazards to identify the greatest risks to homeland security and support prioritization of DHS mission elements as part of DHS strategic planning processes. This report describes the risk assessment methodology RAND researchers devel- oped to address these goals. 

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Commentary

EMS Is EMS – Own It

by Catherine L. Feinman -

National Preparedness Month is a time for each person to reflect on his or her level of preparedness for the next emergency. This article challenges those in the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to do the same. Whether training for Basic Life Support (BLS) or progressing to Advanced Life Support (ALS), all EMS personnel are created equal at their respective levels. They must learn the same skill sets and protocols and pass the same certification exams as all other EMS personnel within their jurisdictions. That, however, is where the “equality” ends.

Updates

Statement from the President on the National Biodefense Strategy and National Security Presidential Memorandum

President Donald Trump has released a National Biodefense Strategy and signed a National Security Presidential Memorandum that will strengthen the nation’s defenses against biological threats to health and safety. The implementation of these actions will promote a more efficient, coordinated, and accountable biodefense enterprise.

Reports

National Biodefense Strategy 2018

The National Biodefense Strategy sets the course for the United States to combat the serious biothreats the country faces. The strategy provides the following: enables risk awareness to inform decision-making across the biodefense enterprise; ensures biodefense enterprise capabilities to prevent bio-incidents; strives for biodefense enterprise preparedness to reduce the impacts of bio-incidents; enables rapid response to limit the impacts of bio-incidents; and facilitates recovery to restore the community, the economy, and the environment after a bio-incident. The strategy establishes a strong leadership structure and a dedicated mechanism to improve coordination of federal biodefense activities.

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Reports

Emergency Relief for Disaster-Damaged Roads and Public Transportation Systems

Disaster-damaged roads and public transportation systems are eligible for federal assistance under two U.S. Department of Transportation programs, the Emergency Relief (ER) Program administered by the Federal Highway Administration and the Public Transportation ER Program administered by the Federal Transit Administration. This report discusses both assistance programs.

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Updates

House of Representatives Votes to Authorize the DHS Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office

The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed by a voice vote the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 2018 (H.R. 6198). Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen established the DHS Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Office in December 2017. If enacted into law, this legislation would permanently establish the office and grant it new authorities to protect the American people against evolving WMD threats.

Updates

OCR Issues Guidance to Help Ensure Equal Access to Emergency Services and the Appropriate Sharing of Medical Information During Hurricane Florence

As Hurricane Florence makes landfall, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and its federal partners remain in close coordination to help ensure that emergency officials effectively address the needs of at-risk populations as part of disaster response. Emergency responders and officials should consider adopting, as circumstances and resources allow, practices to help make sure all segments of the community are served.

Updates

Datacasting for Instant Situational Awareness

In a crisis, a picture or video is worth a thousand words. The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) saw a requirement to provide responders with a secure, readily accessible way to allow both the picture and the words to help responders make better decisions in a crisis. Together, S&T and partners, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and SpectraRep, developed the solution: S&T’s Datacasting Project.

Updates

National Fire Academy –  Emergency Medical Services: Incident Operations (R0147) Course Openings

Calling all chief officers, company-level officers, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) supervisors, and EMS personnel who operate within the Incident Command System (ICS) and want to study successfully employed incident command techniques for the management of medium to large incidents involving multiple sick or injured patients. Course openings available in October 2018 and January 2019. Register today!

Preparedness

Control System Cybersecurity Concerns

by Joseph Weiss -

The U.S. electric grid, which was designed more than 100 years ago, consists of control systems and field equipment. The grid was originally designed with large central station generation – for example, coal, oil, nuclear, natural gas, hydro – with transmission and distribution substations to deliver electricity to the end customer. As central station power plants are being supplanted by renewable generation from sources such as solar and wind, control systems are becoming more complex and increasingly vulnerable to cyberthreats, especially as the control system networks are connected to the internet.

Updates

Modernizing the National Disaster Medical System to Meet the Health Security Threats of the 21st Century

In 2017, the United States suffered three back-to-back hurricanes that caused catastrophic damage in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. That experience highlighted the importance of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) – a federally coordinated system that augments the nation’s medical response capability during times of disasters or public health emergencies.

Reports

A Practical Guide for Developing and Conducting Simulation Exercise to Test and Validate Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Plans

The aim of this document is to support countries in developing and conducting simulation exercises to test and validate their national pandemic influenza preparedness plans. It is intended to provide practical guidance on how to select, plan, conduct and evaluate simulation exercises specific to pandemic influenza preparedness and response, and how to set up a process for using the outcomes of these exercises to review and improve pandemic influenza preparedness plans.

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Reports

Behavioral Health Conditions in Children and Youth Exposed to Natural Disasters

The purpose of this publication is to discuss the challenges faced by children and adolescents following natural disasters, shed light on behavioral health consequences (such as PTSD, depression, and acute stress disorder) of being exposed to traumatic events, and present various ways to reduce lasting impacts of such events. 

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Updates

Justice Department Announces Release of New Fentanyl Safety Video for First Responders

The Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) released the Fentanyl Safety Recommendations for First Responders’ companion training video Fentanyl: The Real Deal. The video was produced by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to help first responders protect themselves when the presence of fentanyl is suspected or encountered on the job.

Updates

S&T Develops the First Line of Defense Against Acts of Targeted Violence

Tragic events at the Boston Marathon, African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, and Pulse nightclub in Orlando are reminders that ideologically motivated violent extremists pose a persistent threat to Americans of all backgrounds. Since 2010, the U.S. government has invested more than $20 million into understanding all forms of radicalization to violence, as well as effective prevention and intervention measures.

Updates

Certified Community Paramedic Review Course Now Offered

Columbia Southern University and the International Association of Flight & Critical Care Paremedics (IAFCCP) have partnered for the development of the Certified Community Paramedic Review Course. This online course will focus on the application of concepts related to the critical thinking necessary to do well on the Certified Community Paramedic (C-PC) exam.

Resilience

Introducing the “ACT” Crisis Management Framework

by Terry Hastings -

There is no shortage of crisis management tools and concepts, yet individuals and organizations often still struggle to respond effectively when a crisis occurs. There are likely numerous reasons for this, but one challenge stems from an inability to operationalize the key concepts during a crisis. It can be helpful to establish frameworks that can serve as “mental cues” to organize, guide, and prompt action. This article examines one such framework.

Updates

BARDA and Its Partners Bring New Ammunition to the Battle Against Superbugs

Antibiotics are over-prescribed and improperly used, which can increase the number of resistant infections. In addition, few alternative drugs capable of overcoming antibiotic resistance are available because most manufacturers have abandoned antibiotic development in favor of products that provide a greater return on investment. Since 2010, BARDA has worked with 12 private companies on developing 15 new antibiotics, and three have already earned approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Reports

1 October After-Action Report

On 1 October 2017, a lone gunman opened fire into the crowd of the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, killing 58 people and injuring more than 850, including first responders. This report evaluates the strengths and areas for improvement observed during the response to share the knowledge gained from this incident with public safety agencies from across the country to assist in their preparedness efforts.

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Updates

A Flexible Clinical Trial Design Suitable for Emerging Disease Outbreaks

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Drug Evaluation and Research statisticians are designing trials with adaptive features to make clinical evaluation of new drug treatments more efficient and informative. Clinical trials with flexibility and adaptive features are critical for evaluating new treatments during medical emergencies and for diseases, such as cancer.

Updates

DHS Announces Grant Allocations for Fiscal Year 2018 Preparedness Grants

As part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) ongoing efforts to support state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced final allocations of $345 million for six Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 DHS competitive preparedness grant programs. The FY 2018 preparedness grants focus on the nation’s highest risk areas, and law enforcement and terrorism prevention activities.

Updates

A Milestone for Forecasting Earthquake Hazards

Earthquakes pose a profound danger to people and cities worldwide, but with the right hazard-mitigation efforts, from stricter building requirements to careful zoning, the potential for catastrophic collapses of roads and buildings and loss of human lives can be limited. In a milestone for earthquake forecasting, researchers have come up with a physics-based model that marks a turning point in earthquake forecasting.

Updates

Handheld Genomic Sequencer Shows Promise in Field Demo

The MinION, a handheld genomic sequencer, showed promise in a recent field demonstration as it continues testing at the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Chemical & Biological Center. Not only can the MinION detect known threats, it can sequence unknown threats, too. These unknown biothreats include emerging and genetically modified pathogens.