march 2016

Updates

Lighting Up Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes

Because mosquitoes are so efficient at spreading disease, Robert Meagher, a chemical engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, has developed a simple technique for simultaneously detecting RNA from West Nile and chikungunya virus in samples from mosquitoes. He is now working to add the ability to screen for Zika virus.

Commentary

Breaking News & Getting It Right

by Thomas J. Lockwood & Catherine L. Feinman -

Establishing mutual trust between opposing groups in a time-sensitive environment can be a huge challenge. Trust and communication gaps exist between news media and public information officers. It is important to understand the different operational procedures, the roles and responsibilities, and the effects that each stakeholder has during a large-scale incident.

Reports

Defense Threat Reduction Agency Strategic Plan 2016-2020

The evolution of the Weapons of Mass Destruction threat, revised policy and guidance, and feedback from the workforce and stakeholders led the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to reexamine and update their strategic plan. The revised strategic plan addresses the strategic changes needed to achieve their vision to be the nation's premier countering weapons of mass destruction (CWMD) workforce and solutions provider.

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Resilience

Strategies for Public Information in Times of Crisis

by Anthony S. Mangeri -

Providing information to the public in times of crisis is so critical to disaster operations that it is included as one of the five major components of the National Incident Management System. Mass media is one of many tools available to help public information officers disseminate essential information and convey risks to the public before, during, and after a disaster.

Updates

Amping Antimicrobial Discovery with Automation

The antimicrobial arsenal that we count on to save millions of lives each year is alarmingly thin-and these microbes are rapidly evolving resistance to our weapons. Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) show that automated techniques commonly used to screen new drugs for mammalian cell toxicity could also dramatically speed up the challenging task of antimicrobial discovery.

Updates

Keeping Ribosomes Stuck May Stop Virulent Bacteria Strain In Its Tracks

Compounds that stop a cellular rescue operation for stuck ribosomes may bolster the nation's defenses against biowarfare and bioterrorism, as well as create alternative antibiotics to handle increasingly resistant pathogens, according to a team of researchers from Penn State.

Updates

New CDC Laboratory Test for Zika Virus Authorized for Emergency Use by FDA

In response to a request from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization for the Trioplex Real-time RT-PCR Assay, a diagnostic tool for Zika virus that will be distributed to qualified laboratories.

Reports

Survey Request: From Harvard's National Preparedness Leadership Initiative

A team of students enrolled in the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at Harvard is working on a project to examine the collaboration, cooperation, and connectivity in the federal and state relationship, as it applies to the national core capability of critical infrastructure systems (transportation systems, water and wastewater systems, etc.). To help this team gather data and information from stakeholders to support their project, please take the anonymous survey. Survey completion requested by Friday, 15 April 2016.

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Updates

FDA Approves New Treatment for Inhalation Anthrax

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Anthim (obiltoxaximab) injection to treat inhalational anthrax in combination with appropriate antibacterial drugs. Inhalational anthrax is a rare disease that can occur after exposure to infected animals or contaminated animal products, or as a result of an intentional release of anthrax spores.

Resilience

Big News About Cyberthreats

by Dawn Thomas -

The emergency services sector faces many daily challenges that are exacerbated when data breaches and cyber attacks occur. Addressing public concern for incidents with life and safety consequences is one of the greatest challenges that public information officers must be prepared to manage as the number and frequency of cyberthreats continue to rise.

Preparedness

Active Shooters & Public Access Bleeding Control Kits

by Team You Can Act -

Harvard's National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI) plays a key role in bringing together thought leaders and professionals to address complex challenges and enhance the nations preparedness efforts. One NPLI meta-leadership project contributed to a new nationwide campaign that empowers bystanders to act and potentially save lives when someone is critically injured by an active shooter.

Resilience

Helping Children & Youths Cope With Disaster Media Coverage

by Jennifer First & J. Brian Houston -

In Missouri, researchers are helping adults learn how children and youths perceive disaster media coverage in order to better cope with the abundance of information and images that surround them following a significant incident. Coping strategies and resources addressing media coverage must be tailored to the individual needs and developmental level of each child or youth.

Reports

Future Trends in Geospatial Information Management: The Five to Ten Year Vision

This second edition Future Trends report recognizes that the most significant changes in the geospatial industry come from linking multiple technologies and policies. The first part of the report focuses on the new and emerging trends, while the second half of the report incorporates changes that have occurred in the trends identified in the first edition.

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Updates

PulseNet Saves Lives and Money by Reducing Foodborne Illness

A national network of public health laboratories prevents an estimated 270,000 cases of food poisoning and saves half a billion dollars every year, according to a study released today. PulseNet is a national laboratory network that connects cases of foodborne illness by comparing DNA fingerprints of the foodborne bacteria and matching illnesses across the country that may be from the same source.

Reports

Five Years of the Budget Controls Act's Disaster Relief Adjustment

The Budget Control Act established a set of limits on federal spending, as well as a set of mechanisms to adjust those limits to accommodate special categories, like congressionally designated major disasters. This report examines how the adjustment has functioned over the first five years, and what the future of disaster relief may look like for the next five years and beyond.

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Updates

Double Whammy of Multi-Fault Ruptures Can Unleash Stronger Earthquakes, Stanford Scientists Say

A deadly earthquake that rocked southern California two centuries ago was likely caused by the slippage of one fault line that then triggered a second fault, according to a new study. The research not only offers a solution to a long-standing seismic "whodunit," it also demonstrates how the rupturing of multiple faults can trigger more powerful temblors.

Updates

DHS Announces New Funding Opportunities

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the release of fiscal year 2016 Notices of Funding Opportunity for 10 DHS preparedness grant programs totaling more than $1.6 billion. The grants aim to improve the nation's readiness in preventing, protecting against, responding to, recovering from, and mitigating terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies.

Updates

Scientists Studying Intensified Vector Control Measures to Combat Zika, Dengue, and Chikungunya in the Americas

Control of mosquitoes that transmit Zika, dengue, and chikungunya viruses must be ramped up in the Americas. The new Technical Advisory Group on Public Health Entomology is looking at ways to strengthen vector control programs, including specific measures for Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever in the Americas.

Updates

Experimental Dengue Vaccine Protects All Recipients in Virus Challenge Study

A clinical trial in which volunteers were infected with dengue virus six months after receiving an experimental dengue vaccine developed by scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) were protected from infection. The study underscores the importance of human challenge studies, in which volunteers are exposed to disease-causing pathogens under carefully controlled conditions.

Preparedness

Saving Lives With Hashtags & Geolocation

by Emily Allen -

Devastating incidents have occurred as long as humans have been on Earth. However, the way in which people respond to them has changed dramatically with the introduction of modern technology. Cries for help may be hidden in hashtags and geolocation, so filtering social media can be critical for response efforts.

Updates

National Agricultural Biosecurity Center Program Aims to Help States Improve Disaster Preparedness

A tool being developed by the Kansas State University National Agricultural Biosecurity Center will assist agricultural emergency management coordinators in planning efforts to combat animal disease outbreaks and other emergencies. The tool is a database called ICAAR, which stands for Identifying Corrective Actions from Agricultural Response.

Updates

CDC Notes Progress, Threat Regarding Hospital Superbugs

Although clear progress has been made with certain drug-resistant hospital infections, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that these infections still occur in more than one in four patients in long-term acute care facilities. The CDC is challenging clinicians and other healthcare providers to accelerate their current efforts to combat drug-resistant "superbugs."

Updates

UCF Gets Grant: Protect World Against Chemical Weapons of Mass Destruction

The U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency has awarded University of Central Florida's (UCF) assistant mechanical and aerospace engineering professor, Subith Vasu, a grant to figure out how long it takes the toxic chemicals from weapons of mass destruction to break down after they have been destroyed with bombs.

Reports

World Health Organization: Current Zika Product Pipeline

As part of the broader response to Zika, the World Health Organization (WHO) initiated an emergency research and development (R&D) plan that aims to develop and implement a roadmap for R&D preparedness regarding emerging pathogens, for which there are no, or insufficient, preventive and curative solutions.

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Reports

Emergency Communications: Actions Needed to Better Coordinate Federal Efforts in the National Capital Region

The Office of National Capital Region Coordination, within the Department of Homeland Security, has taken various actions - mainly through coordination with state and local agencies - to help improve emergency communications interoperability in the National Capital Region, a legally designated area including Washington, D.C., and nearby parts of Virginia and Maryland. This report reviews these efforts.

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Updates

DTRA Program Helps Nations Tackle Biological Threats

As part of the effort to upgrade global biosurveillance capabilities in the wake of recent pandemics, a mainly nuclear nonproliferation program created in the 1990s has evolved to address biological threats around the world. The precursor to the Defense Threat Reduction Agencys (DTRA) Cooperative Biological Engagement Program began in November 1991 as a U.S. threat reduction and nonproliferation effort.

Updates

Shaving Time to Test Antidotes for Nerve Agents

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers are using their supercomputers, to simulate the energy requirements for candidate drug molecules to permeate cell membranes - shaving weeks of compound testing by determining in advance how readily they will enter cells to perform their activities. This research applies to nerve agents, which are classified by the United Nations as weapons of mass destruction.

Preparedness

Accuracy & Trust in Information Dissemination

by Anna Rose -

Time pressures during emergencies are not an excuse to release inaccurate information to the public. Regular communication and engagement with media sources help facilitate the flow of reliable information. Relationships built on mutual trust and respect between news reporters and public affairs officers ensure timely and accurate public reporting during a crisis.

Commentary

Television Talking Heads & Disasters

by Cedric Leighton -

Television coverage of a disaster portrays many people trying to explain what happened. For those who are charged with leading emergency response and disaster relief agencies, the diversity of media outlets and the different kinds of experts the press calls upon to help analyze cataclysmic events can be overwhelming.

Updates

DTRA Scientists Develop Cloud-Based Biosurveillance Ecosystem

The Departments of Defense (DoD) and Homeland Security are developing a system that lets epidemiologists scan the planet for anomalies in human and animal disease prevalence, warn of coming pandemics, and protect warfighters and others worldwide. The Biosurveillance Ecosystem is a program of the DoD's Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).

Preparedness

Digital Humanitarians

by Hannah Zitner -

When the deadliest and most destructive storm of 2012 came pummeling through the Northeast - decimating homes, cutting power, downing communications, and ultimately killing close to 120 people on U.S. soil - states of emergencies were declared in nine states. The Federal Emergency Management Agency as well as state, tribal, and local responders had their work cut out in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Updates

Self-Test Kit Warns Soldiers of Biological Exposure in the Field

The Edgewood Chemical Biological Center has developed a new biological self-test kit that can detect exposure to biological agents in the field. Known as SmartCAR, the device uses a colorimetric assay, very much like a home pregnancy test strip, to identify the presence of a pathogen of concern such as ricin, anthrax, or plague.

Reports

Zika: Strategic Response Framework & Joint Operations Plan

The World Health Organization has activated its emergency operations incident management system to coordinate the international response to the Zika outbreak. This plan provides support to affected countries, builds capacity to prevent further outbreaks and control them when they do occur, and facilitates research to better understand this virus and its effects.

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Updates

EPA Proposes Revisions to Its Risk Management Program to Improve Chemical Process Safety and Further Protect Communities and First Responders

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to revise its Risk Management Program regulations to improve chemical process safety, assist local emergency authorities in planning for and responding to accidents, and improve public awareness of chemical hazards at regulated sources.

Updates

Science-Based Data Collection Key to Better Wildland Fire Defense

A new report by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) describes how researchers analyzed a major 2011 Texas wildland fire using a rigorous and scientifically based post-fire data collection approach, a system they believe will lead to improved defensive measures and strategies for significantly reducing structural damage and property loss.

Updates

First Rapid Detection Zika Test Now Available Through Collaboration With Texas Children's Hospital and Houston Methodist Hospital

Collaboration between Texas Children's Hospital and Houston Methodist Hospital has resulted in the release of the country's first hospital-based rapid tests for the Zika virus. This sponsored program was designed to facilitate rapid development of tests for virus detection in a large metropolitan area.

Preparedness

When a City Is Burning - Or Not

by Connor Scott -

In early 2015, the entire city of Baltimore was overrun with rioters and the city was set ablaze. At least that is what the world saw on news reports. As devastating as the civil unrest was to a relatively small portion of the city, the situation was exacerbated by reports of "citywide" chaos and destruction.

Updates

Suicide Bomb Detector Moves Forward With Sandia Engineer's Help

R3 Technologies and a group of small businesses are developing a way to prevent suicide attacks by detecting concealed bombs before they go off. Needing more technical help, the group turned to the New Mexico Small Business Assistance program, which pairs entrepreneurs with scientists and engineers at Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories.