Low-probability, high-consequence situations, such as mass fatality events, often stress or overwhelm local response capabilities within a very short timeframe. The ability to handle these situations differs greatly depending on the size of the jurisdiction affected and its readily available resources. New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Research conducted research to address this issue.
The 2016 Legislative Session of the Indiana General Assembly passed Senate Enrolled Act 147 requiring the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) to establish minimum standards and approve best practices no later than 1 July 2017 for a school emergency response system. The new guidelines are helping to improve school safety and security across the state and offer a template for other states to consider when reviewing and updating their emergency response systems.
Rezwan Ferdaus, a U.S. citizen and graduate of Northeastern University, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2011 for supporting al-Qaida and plotting to fly a motorized airplane – loaded with explosives and controlled by a global positioning system (GPS) – into the U.S. Capitol Building and the Pentagon. Though the FBI insists the public was “never in danger,” the threat of a terrorist attack via unmanned aircraft system (UAS) technology is increasing. If someone other than FBI undercover agents supplied explosives to Ferdaus, the story would have been very different.
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.