Some experts say that a chemical attack plot on Western public transportation systems such as this one is inevitable: It is 0753 on a Tuesday morning at the busy red line subway station in Washington, D.C. The Islamic State group (IS) just claimed responsibility for a chemical attack that took place there by three IS supporters (two males and one female) about half past the hour. The Metrorail transportation staff and first responders are rushing to care for the victims of what seems to be a sulfur mustard attack.
Chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) events are low in frequency, but high in consequence, requiring a frequent and more targeted emphasis on the way that responders train and learn. Radiation is often not well understood. It can be intimidating for both the public and for first responders. Radiation cannot be seen, smelled, or heard. Yet, risk is relatively easy to mitigate when responders have been adequately trained and equipped.
As school districts across the country provide an effective level of security within budgetary constraints, dozens of new retrofit security devices are being marketed to enhance the safety and security of students and teachers. Although the price tag for some of these security methods may be attractive, there are also significant life-safety implications to consider.
Flooding results from three primary forces: rainfall, coastal storm surge, and rising sea level, made even worse with by runoff and extreme tides. Recently, hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria showcased the new environmental conditions the world faces as well as the devastating damage that can occur when any combination of these flood types converges on a built community constructed without adequately addressing the increasing threats.
Recent studies have shown that pets have the ability to relieve stress, provide purpose, and give unconditional love and support to those who need them. This profound connection is referred to as the “human-animal bond.” During an emergency or disaster, this bond is exhibited with the great lengths people go to both remain with and save their pets, including putting themselves and others at risk. A new tool addresses this gap.
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.
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.
If someone were to walk into a high school classroom today and ask the students about their future professions, there may be one or possibly two students who wish to pursue emergency management. However, as much as the field has grown since 2001, emergency management is still not the dream career of the average high school student. It is much more likely that these students would consider more traditional fields in the business, health, or finance world.
They meet in the local diner across the street, in a small coffee shop meters away from headquarters, or in the office behind closed doors. But, these get-togethers between emergency management colleagues are not to discuss upgrades to the latest heat emergency plan, or to flesh out details for an upcoming tabletop or functional exercise. These meetings instead promote professional development by providing a roadmap to help emergency management neophytes navigate pages of plans and protocols to learn from their colleagues’ experiences in the field.
The discipline of emergency management is poised to benefit from three converging factors: an increasing number of millennials joining the workforce; the proliferation of emergency management related degree programs; and greater visibility and relevance of the discipline itself due to the increasing frequency, scope, and magnitude of disasters and evolving threats. Together, these factors will shape emergency management for the next generation.