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.
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.
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.
This article explores the meaning of safe and secure schools, shows where current schools are falling short, and offers policy prescriptions, pointing to the pending federal infrastructure package as a unique opportunity to make an important down payment to secure a safer and better future for the nation’s students.
Modern communities are faced with myriad threats, risks, and hazards that require careful planning, significant information gathering, and actionable preparedness practices. Since incidents range in scale and scope, it is important to not only examine the factors related to the type of incident, but also examine the factors related to specific agencies and organizations.
For more than a decade, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) statistics have shown that, although there has been some improvement, not enough people are prepared for emergencies and disasters. However, publicly available resources are educating community members and helping them prepare – one month at a time – for potential disasters that are likely to affect them.
As another calendar year comes to a close, agencies and organizations are reflecting on the events of 2017: hurricanes, mass shootings, wildfires, critical infrastructure failures, disease outbreaks, cyberattacks, and other incidents that have strained local resources. DomPrep’s readers are continually challenged to be prepared for, respond to, and mitigate the consequence of disasters. When a crisis occurs, the gaps in planning and response are forced into the spotlight. However, when disasters are diverted, the success often goes unseen. This edition of the DomPrep Journal recognizes and thanks all those who work behind on the firing line and behind the scenes everyday to make their communities safer and more resilient through their activities, informational resources, and recommendations.
“The whole point of U.S. nuclear weapons control is to make sure that the president – and only the president – can use them if and whenever he decides to do so,” said Alex Wellerstein, a historian of nuclear weapons at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in an article published on 1 December 2016. As presidents and circumstances change, it is important to understand presidential authority and legislation as they relate to nuclear weapons.
There is a desire for some bad actors to target rail systems, especially the hazardous materials freight rail network. This threat underscores the need for the rail transportation industry to maintain and strengthen partnerships with federal, state, and local authorities. With over 140,000 miles of infrastructure, there are difficult security challenges. For example, the U.S. rail system moves over 1.8 billion tons originated/year of freight, petroleum, chemicals, and military assets, making it a vital lifeline. A recent roundtable examined current issues and progress regarding this important topic from government and private sector experts.
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.