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.
A chemical spill, nuclear attack, biological agent, pandemic, hurricane, and numerous other threats and hazards have the potential to kill enough people to overwhelm any particular jurisdiction. Whether that number is 10 or 10,000 or more, the “unthinkable” can happen anywhere. On 16 June 2017, DomPrep hosted a panel discussion on this topic at the International Hazardous Materials Response Teams Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. The key takeaways from that session are summarized here.
Hurricane Harvey has caused widespread destruction, and its aftermath continues to pose a significant threat to life and safety. In this and other large-scale incidents, the exact number of people affected is hard to determine because of the complex physical and social networks that exist within and between jurisdictional boundaries. Knowing how to manage the lives lost and the lives affected is a challenge. However, when preparing for a catastrophic event, it is important to remember that even one lost life can have devastating effects on a community.
On 27 August 2017, DomPrep and the Preparedness Leadership Council lost a long-time friend and the nation lost a highly revered icon of domestic preparedness and homeland security. Major General (Ret.) Timothy J. Lowenberg (Washington National Guard) was above all a public servant who sought to protect the lives and safety of all Americans. His knowledge and dedication were the tools that made him an effective advocate for homeland security issues.