When tornadoes struck Joplin, Missouri, last week, an emergency management technology provider in Pittsburgh was quickly notified to expect heavy usage of its state-of-the-art systems. Within 48 hours, more than 4,000 licensed medical professionals registered to volunteer through the "Show-Me Response" website, managed for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services by Collaborative Fusion Inc. (CFI).
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced the release of the Hazus-MH 2.0, an upgrade that includes improvements in the usability & functionality of the software provided. Hazus - a nationally applicable standardized methodology that contains models for estimating potential losses from earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes - uses GIS (Geographic Information System) technology to estimate the physical, economic, and social impacts of disasters.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that user testing for the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) e-Manifest: Rail and Sea has started. The e-Manifest: Rail and Sea will replace the same capability currently available in the Automated Commercial System, and provide some additional benefits for users.
The Northrop Grumman Corporation has been awarded a follow-on task order for continued development of the U.S. Department of Defense Automated Biometric Identification System (DoD-ABIS), which provides military personnel with reliable and timely identification of persons suspected to be a potential threat to U.S. national security. Northrop Grumman will provide systems engineering, software development, infrastructure and performance engineering, and modeling and simulation support.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced the availability of the Small Vessel Reporting System (SVRS) to the northern border, New England, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This valuable online reporting tool is a voluntary program and will expedite the entry process for participating boaters coming back into the United States. The SVRS will be available nationwide sometime in the near future.
This web-based system will equip Commonwealth State, Municipal, Jurisdictional agencies and facilities (e.g. Child Care, Personal Care Home) owners with a collaborative and process-driven framework, based on federal and Pennsylvania emergency management standards, to create and update their emergency plans, specifically including the Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) and various facility plans.
"The results were even more positive than we expected," said Nathaniel Weiss, founder and CEO of LiveProcess. "Anecdotal evidence had always pointed to the fact that automating aspects of emergency preparedness saves time, money, and lives. Now we have bottom-line evidence that using a solution like this significantly enhances hospital operational efficiency."
With new predictions for an above-average 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, the American Red Cross (ARC) is adding technology to the many ways it helps people become better prepared. To make that planning easier, the ARC has developed a free iPhone app that provides the location of all open Red Cross shelters. The app not only maps the location of a shelter, but also shows current capacity and population.
It is reasonable to expect that, when the population of a community - or nation - grows, the need for a mass evacuation of some type will grow at the same pace. That need increases exponentially, though: (a) when catastrophic weather events occur with greater frequency; and/or (b) in the current "Age of Terrorism" when mass-casualty incidents have become the normal way of waging war. In either case, the protection of special-needs populations becomes immensely more difficult.
The earthquakes, tornadoes, and terrorist attacks of the past several years have led to increased global awareness of the need to create, improve, and expand mass-casualty response capabilities. The most immediate emphasis, understandably, is on the saving of lives. But there also must be much greater attention, it says here, to the safe, proper, and respectful disposal of the bodies of the recently deceased.
Thanks (sort of) to the ravages caused by Hurricane Katrina, and a number of other disasters - including terrorist attacks - there is a growing awareness that U.S. healthcare facilities must focus much greater attention on building, and/or improving, their individual and collective "surge" capabilities. Here is a brief report on what has been accomplished so far, and some helpful recommendations to both improve and accelerate the process.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its federal partners are working closely with state and local officials in Missouri and the other states affected by the deadly tornadoes and severe storms that struck the Midwest on Saturday and Sunday.
"In our complex society, information and the speed at which it is delivered are essential. Being able to transmit analysis results reliably from the hotzone is a huge advantage, especially when working with a limited air supply," said Brian Wagner, master firefighter with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Fire Department. "Direct communication from the hotzone serves as a force multiplier, allowing one technician to analyze, interpret, and transmit data in near real-time. It also allows us to make better informed decisions, whether to continue sampling and evidence collection or move on for further investigations."
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate has announced that Virtual USA played a key role in supporting the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC) states and partners participating in last week's 2011 National Level Exercise (NLE). During the exercise, participating CUSEC member states and partners leveraged Virtual USA to discover and share information throughout the region during a mock earthquake event in the New Madrid Seismic Zone.
Universal Detection Technology (UNDT) has shipped radiation detection devices to customers in Japan, such as the dosimeters used for measurement of cumulative radiation exposures and the advanced survey meters and surface monitors used in the detection of contamination on various surfaces.
The Atlantic basin is expected to see an above-normal hurricane season this year, according to the seasonal outlook issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center - a division of the National Weather Service.
The Magnalight EPL-50-120x12-EHR hazardous area incandescent work light provides operators in Class 1 Division 1 hazardous environments with an effective spotlight that is well suited for illuminating select sections of large areas. Although primarily producing a powerful spotlight beam, this explosion-proof drop light still provides good peripheral illumination near the fixture as well.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has announced the release of FY 2011 grant guidance and application kits for 12 DHS grant programs totaling $2.1 billion to assist states, urban areas, tribal and territorial governments, non-profit agencies, and the private sector in strengthening the nation's ability to prevent, protect, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies.
The BLACKHAWK! Ergonomic Duty Belt Harness was the winning recipient of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) grant funded program to develop a solution for injuries sustained to military, law enforcement officers, and tactical users by heavy-duty belt rigs. The National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) Member Tested Program has completed a test and evaluation of the Ergonomic Duty Harness and awarded it a 4.35 overall score.
A major fire in one of the nation's finest hospitals led quickly to: (a) the massive evacuation of almost 450 patients; and (b) numerous follow-up meetings to find out what had gone wrong and how to handle such incidents more quickly, and more effectively, in the future. The end result was a White Paper summary of special interest to all of the nation's hospitals and fire departments.
Doctors, nurses, and other highly visible professionals get the greatest credit, deservedly, in most public-health incidents and events. Playing increasingly important roles, though - before, during, and after such incidents - are the nation's unsung and much less publicized sanitarians whose special expertise in numerous operational scenarios is finally being recognized.
Ready Rating is a free, self-paced, web-based membership program that helps businesses and schools measure how ready they are to deal with emergencies, and provides customized feedback on how they can improve their efforts.
TRANSCAER® (Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response) has launched its first-ever Anhydrous Ammonia Training online training program to educate and train officials across the country on emergency responses to anhydrous ammonia incidents.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is taking action to make America's 9-1-1 system and other critical communication infrastructure more resilient by proposing that interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service and broadband Internet service providers report significant outages.
The completely redesigned Fido NXT provides expanded explosives-detection capabilities in a smaller, more compact, rugged device. The lightweight system delivers fast, accurate, and consistent explosives detection through a simplified user interface suitable for users at any experience level.
"Our end-user research revealed that architects desired a lighted security bollard to provide a pathway of light in addition to security. Calpipe's lighted security bollards are a practical solution for a sleek, dynamic look without skimping on protection from vehicle incursion," said Joe Pederson, vice president of sales and marketing for Calpipe Security Bollards.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has opened a new facility that will provide a centralized location in which to gather, analyze, and disseminate operational and strategic data. The new Operational Integration Center will provide an operational laboratory for improving the operational integration of border security efforts by improving detection capabilities while enhancing situational awareness for CBP.
"We were delighted with the response to our program ideas, and we hope that Mrs. Obama will find a way to work with us this year," said Safe America President Len Pagano."We think this opportunity to share our vision of how grassroots preparedness can be enhanced was a compliment to Safe America and our Board of Directors for their hard work in launching the 9/11 Drill Down for Safety campaign."
Join the hundreds of private sector organizations that will participate virtually in the White House directed National Level Exercise 2011 (NLE 11) next week (May 16-20.) Virtual Engagement provides participants with a flexible and meaningful way to participate in NLE 11 - whether they are a business owner, a responder, or an individual interested in how they can prepare for and help respond to an incident of significant magnitude.
PLAN is the result of a unique public/private partnership between the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the wireless industry with the singular objective of enhanced public safety. PLAN is a new public safety system that allows customers who own an enabled mobile device to receive geographically targeted text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area.
As most people know, it is impossible to be totally prepared, at all times, to cope with any and all disasters of any type and of any magnitude imaginable. But there are many common-sense steps that can be taken to lessen the impact of most if not all of the most likely disasters. Here is a brief check list of some of the more effective ways, reasonable in cost, that major cities and small towns alike should consider to cope with potential mass-casualty incidents.
by Donald Brannen, Amy Schmitt, and Mark McDonnell -
The chill wind that started on 31 January immobilized a major area of the country and brought ice, snow, sleet, and misery to 100 million Americans. Among the hardest hit were numerous special-needs patients, already incapacitated, waiting for help that came far too late or, in some cases, not at all.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, and senior executives from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon and other executives met at the World Trade Center site to announce the unveiling of PLAN - the Personal Localized Alerting Network, which ensures that emergency alerts will not become stalled by user congestion, a problem that can occur with standard mobile voice and texting services.
Idaho Technology Inc. has announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a 510(k) clearance for the FilmArray instrument and the FilmArray Respiratory Panel. The FilmArray system represents a significant advance in user friendliness and multiplex infectious-disease testing capability for hospital clinical labs.
The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) has created a prevention and public education exchange that aims to serves as a central location for educational materials that fire safety organizations may want to share with other communities.
LiveProcess Corporation, the leading provider of healthcare emergency management software, has announced several updates to its platform that improve the ability of hospital users to communicate and coordinate with disaster response and critical care teams.
More than 76 percent of hospitals participating in the National Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) met 90 percent or more of all program measures for all-hazards preparedness in 2009, according to a report just released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Six senior fire officials will receive fellowships to attend Harvard University's Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program this summer at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. The 19-day program, which includes state and local government leaders from across the United States (and other nations), focuses on exploring the interrelationships between citizens & government, analyzing policy options, and examining the ethical and professional responsibilities of leadership.
"CBP's Trusted Traveler Programs support one of our core missions: to facilitate trade and travel by expediting low-risk frequent travelers' entry process into the United States when arriving at our ports of entry," said U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Alan D. Bersin. "We encourage frequent travelers to join the [current] one million members and apply to the Trusted Traveler Program that will best match their own travel needs."
Smiths Detection has launched a new, more accurate, and more capable handheld radiation detector - the "RadSeeker" - to identify radiological and nuclear threats. The device - which offers superior performance capabilities, small size, and durability - has a wide array of applications from enabling civil-defense and first-responder rad-nuc search operations to helping port and border personnel with cargo, container, and vehicle screening.
"As we've seen from the damage caused by the recent tornadoes and severe storms that hit the Southeast, as well as flooding all across the country, natural disasters can be devastating," said Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate. "While we can't prevent them, if you haven't already, you can take steps now to get ready by visiting Ready.gov, and be sure to check on your neighbors, especially the elderly and young children - those who can be most vulnerable during emergencies."
New Jersey calls on Hippocrates to help top officials cope with a major mass-casualty incident with significant international implications; the initial result was a burning success. In Tarrant County, Texas, NACCHO and school nurses put the emphasis on children in fighting the flu and both detecting and controlling the outbreak of other life-threatening diseases. The lessons learned in both situations are available to other states and hereby highly recommended.
Several myths to the contrary notwithstanding, the new WBI passenger screening booths installed at U.S. airports to improve in-flight security are not only extremely safe but also both visually and morally unobjectionable. For those not convinced, there are other options, including a quick and unobtrusive pat down - in a private screening room, if requested. The overarching goal, of course, is to ensure that the friendly skies of U.S. airspace are as safe as is humanly possible.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano has announced the allocation of $25.5 million in grant funding under the Border Interoperability Demonstration Project (BIDP) - a one-time competitive grant program focused on developing innovative solutions to strengthen interoperable emergency communications along the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has received instructions on amended regulations related to the purchase and consumption of poultry meat and poultry products purchased outside the United States. Federal officials urge U.S. travelers to be aware of the new requirements, and to always declare food items to CBP officials when entering a U.S. port of entry.
Battelle was awarded a two-year indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contract from the U.S. Army Research Office (ARO). The Scientific Services Program (SSP) is a rapid and flexible contract mechanism available to all federal agencies to solve problems related to research and development (R&D). Battelle and its subcontractors will perform short-term scientific and technical studies, analyses, investigations, evaluations, and assessments to help government agencies meet their mission requirements and attain their organizational goals.
Joined by First Spouses, members of the National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL) are being asked to serve as educators in their own states in a national campaign being launched this summer by the Safe America Foundation. Under the 9/11 Drill Down for Safety campaign, the program - popularly known as March to 1 Million - aims to raise awareness of the need for all Americans to become first responders following a disaster.
Recognizing the importance of clean water and healthy watersheds to the U.S. economy, environment, and communities, the Obama administration has released a national clean water framework that showcases its comprehensive commitment to protecting the health of the nation's waters. The framework emphasizes the importance of partnerships and coordination with states, local communities, and other stakeholders, as well as the American people, to protect public health and water quality, and promote the nation's energy and economic security.