The imaginations of television and filmmakers are often used to create futuristic worlds, with technologies that can be used as tools or as threats. Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are one such technology that is now off the screen and often seen in the sky. Like “The Jetsons” of the early 1960s, the airways offer many opportunities to transport people and objects from one place to another. With increased travel and transport, though, emergency preparedness, response, and resilience professionals must address the potential benefits of this technology as well as regulations and enforcement issues that could hinder daily and disaster operations. In a worst-case scenario, terrorists could conduct attacks using UAS equipped with explosives, weapons, or dispersal devices for chemical, biological, or radiological materials.
Debuting in 1962, “The Jetsons” depicted the family of the future, with people movers, tube travel, vehicles that folded up into brief cases for parking purposes, home computers, internet, microwave ovens, CT x-ray for medical purposes, cellphones, and speed limits of up to 2,500 miles per hour. Fast-forward to today, as roadways become more congested, one logical alternative is to go up. Unmanned aircraft systems bring the nation a step closer to the Jetson way of life.
Until the federal government decides how to best secure the skies from unmanned aerial systems (UAS), first responders, emergency managers, and public safety professionals will have a big problem to deal with. However, in light of the recent hurricanes and wildfires, this technology is also a real game changer for search and rescue and other unforeseen positive uses. Efforts are being made, but more regulation, enforcement, and concepts of operation are still needed to define this transformative technology.
A firefighter would not run into a burning building without turnout gear and self-contained breathing apparatus. A paramedic would not treat and transport a patient without proper body substance isolation precautions. A hazardous materials technician would not attempt to contain a highly toxic chemical spill without donning a Level A protective suit. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is standard issue for these professions. Responding to a disaster without sufficient education on the type of incident, the warning signs, the tools available, and even themselves would be like running into one of the above scenarios without the proper level of PPE.
As initial search and rescue operations in Houston, Texas, following Hurricane Harvey shifted to recovery efforts, three CNA experts discussed the various challenges metropolitan areas face during, immediately after, and throughout the long-term recovery from a large-scale disaster. Drawing on their 40 years of collective experience, panel moderator Monica Giovachino, Jason McNamara, and Dawn Thomas shared perspectives on a wide range of disaster response and recovery topics.
For decades, governments have conducted emergency preparedness exercises as a method to evaluate the ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural and manmade disasters. There is no doubt the tens of thousands of exercises conducted across the nation have improved the nation’s preparedness but, in order to tackle new and emerging threats, more must be done.
Throughout National Preparedness Month many communities’ preparedness plans have been tested. Hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, and drought are just some of the threats faced this month. Although preparedness is highlighted during the month of September, recent events reinforce the need for preparedness to be a year-round effort – especially during months when daily operations are not being overshadowed by catastrophe, and agencies and organizations are not being tested in full public view.
For years, emergency preparedness professionals have been preaching the message, “Have a Kit, Make a Plan.” As a result, everyone is now ready for the next disaster … of course not. In its latest survey, DomPrep explored levels of preparedness, reasons why people do not plan, as well as possible solutions to reach those who have not yet bought in to the traditional messaging efforts.
In fall 2013, the Littleton Public Schools District (Colorado), with great support from the community, passed an $80 million bond election for capital improvements within the school district. Immediately following the bond election, the Littleton Public Schools Security Department personnel began planning to implement their portion of the bond funds, which was about $7.5 million. Its security team’s journey toward security technology and infrastructure is a good example for other school systems
No two disasters are the same. Yet it is not unusual for officials to be confronted with a common critical public safety decision: whether to evacuate the public or advise them to shelter in place. This crucial decision, which is normally time sensitive, can set the tone for the remainder of the response and recovery phases.