Rail Threats & Interdependencies – Thoughts for Discussion | Domestic Preparedness Photo: Mathews, 2018.

Rail Threats & Interdependencies – Thoughts for Discussion

by Rick Mathews -

In the United States, there are ongoing efforts to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure (CI). Presidential directives, coupled with national security strategies and several iterations of the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP), have spanned the terms of at least four presidents and included the rail system. The volume of activity on or near rail lines, potential threats, and interdependencies all raise concern for the protection of this critical infrastructure asset.


Historical Argument for Hardening Facilities

by Michael E. Gray -

People’s lives were changed forever on Tuesday, 11 September 2001. At the time of the 9/11 attacks, airport security was primarily focused on threats from guns and explosives. There was little worry about knives or sharp instruments. Even when detected at checkpoints, they were not often considered dangerous. Closing this security loophole came after these attacks, which spurred drastic security changes at all phases of the transportation system. However, this was not the first time such security has come into question. An historical review of terrorist tactics emphasizes the need to remain vigilant.


User Guide for Responder-Driven Technology Development

by Ann Lesperance & Richard Ozanich -

With new technology coming to market at a record pace, it can be difficult to know whether products are reliable, durable, and secure enough to make the nation’s emergency management professionals safer, better connected, and fully aware. The market is flooded with tools and capabilities that may be of benefit to first responders, but these tools need to be vetted for the rigorous technical, operational, and safety needs in the field.


Setting Examples for Disaster Preparedness

by Catherine L. Feinman -

From coast to coast, communities across the United States are implementing solutions to address gaps that could hinder response efforts should a disaster occur. From special events to widespread natural disasters, this edition of the DomPrep Journal shares experiences and lessons learned from those who have firsthand accounts of these events and incidents and want to ensure that any existing gaps are closed before similar situations arise again.


Emerging Homeland Security Issues – A 2017 Panel Review

by Joseph J. Leonard Jr. -

The 2017 Emerging Homeland Security Issues panel met in December to discuss the current challenges of today’s threats, review risk management practices, assess means of strengthening interagency relationships, and to consider future resource requirements.


Explosives & Handheld Trace Detection

by Ryan Holland & Mark Fisher -

The threat of homemade explosives (HMEs) is not new. From the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, to the “shoe bomber,” London underground bombings, “underwear bomber,” and attacks in Paris and Brussels in the 2000s, the threat is ever changing. Not only do post-incident crime scenes present danger to responders until secondary devices have been ruled out, but also makeshift laboratories where the bombs are made. Handheld explosives trace detection (ETD) equipment can help responders quickly determine on-scene threats, like Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP) and react appropriately and expediently.


Passenger Egress – A Priority for Metro Rail Lines

by Thomas Renner -

Underground rail transit systems in the United States can be dangerous places. Not only for their riders and employees, but also for emergency responders, who may be called to help evacuate people from the area safely or to stop a blaze. The confined spaces, tight stairwells, and potential for the emergency evacuation of hundreds – if not thousands – of riders means that a project must be well-designed, thought-out, and constructed of materials that do not burn.


Evolving Needs: Interoperable Communications

by The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Interoperable Communications Regional Programmatic Working Group -

During complex and large-scale incidents, first responders in the multi-jurisdictional National Capital Region (NCR) must be able to deploy and integrate with other public safety agencies in a timely and efficient manner. The NCR, for the purposes of this document, is defined as the District of Columbia and surrounding Virginia and Maryland metropolitan areas. Successful integration is contingent on first responders’ ability to communicate seamlessly outside the normal coverage area of their home radio systems.


Free Software Can Help Spot New Forms of Fentanyl and Other Illegal Drugs

Illicit chemists are constantly cooking up new forms of fentanyl, each with a slightly different chemical structure, stymieing law enforcement and putting users at greater risk. To control fentanyl, which mimics heroin but is far more potent, forensic chemists need to identify it. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released a free software tool to help.

USAID and FAO Working Together to Pre-Empt the Next Global Pandemic

A United States-Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) partnership working to strengthen the capacity of developing countries to manage outbreaks of diseases in farm animals has in the last 12 months trained over 4,700 veterinary health professionals in 25 countries. The FAO-provided technical trainings covered a gamut of key competencies, including disease surveillance and forecasting, laboratory operations, biosafety and biosecurity, prevention and control methods and outbreak response strategies.

DHS Working to Enhance School Safety, Increase Preparedness

In the wake of the recent attack in Parkland, Florida, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is stepping up actions to better protect our nation’s schools against gun violence, as well as other potential threats. DHS conducts training, exercises, and preparedness activities year-round to increase the security of schools across the country and the communities in which they are located.

Slowing Biological Time to Extend the Golden Hour for Lifesaving Treatment

When a service member suffers a traumatic injury or acute infection, the time from event to first medical treatment is usually the single most significant factor in determining the outcome between saving a life or not. DARPA’s Biostasis program pursues various approaches to slowing down biochemical processes in living cells to extend the golden hour.

Flu Forecasting System Tracks Geographic Spread of Disease

Scientists at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health developed a system to accurately predict the spatial transmission of influenza in the United States up to six weeks ahead of time. The system could be adapted and modified for use with other infectious diseases.