For more than 20 years, DomPrep has promoted the lessons learned and best practices of agencies and organizations that have managed various disasters. There is so much valuable advice that can be gleaned from such reviews. For example, reviewing past events is critical for learning how to avoid previous preparedness and response pitfalls. However, as lessons learned and best practices are being incorporated into current plans, these plans need to be regularly reviewed and modified to take into consideration innovative solutions and technological advances. Simply responding to a current disaster by doing what should have been done during the last disaster would lead to missed opportunities for building community resilience.
March 2021 marked the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan (Tohoku) Earthquake. On the afternoon of 11 March 2011, a magnitude 9.1 megathrust earthquake struck where the Pacific Plate subducts underneath the Honshu region of Japan. This was a massive event. The earthquake rupture lasted 150-160 seconds, with shaking in many communities felt for five or more minutes. The energy released by the earthquake could power the city of Los Angeles for more than a year. Japan was shifted 8 feet to the east and the earth’s axis shifted about 6.5 inches. The subsequent tsunami reached more than 10 meters in many places, devastating large portions of Japan’s eastern coast. The resulting destruction is estimated to have caused tens of billions of dollars in damage, destroyed tens of thousands of buildings, and caused the deaths of nearly 20,000 people.
One of the most critical yet least understood core emergency management capabilities is planning, which reduces the chaos present during a disaster. However, the emergency management community is awash in various planning systems, various types of plans, and confusing terminology that complicates the work. This often causes problems when emergency managers are tasked to lead new planning efforts, to update existing plans, and to adapt them to real-life emergencies. Eleven tips and tricks can help solve these problems.
The Ready or Not report series provides an annual assessment of states’ levels of readiness to respond to public health emergencies. It recommends policy actions to ensure that everyone’s health is protected during such events. This 2021 edition tiers states into three performance categories – high, middle, and low – and includes action steps states should take to improve their readiness while battling COVID-19 and for the next health emergency.
FLIR Systems Inc. announced it will team with Purdue University on a contract worth up to $8.0 million from the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Joint Science and Technology Office to rapidly develop next-generation chemical detection solutions based on ion mobility spectrometry and mass spectrometry technology.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is updating K–12 school guidance to reflect the latest science on physical distance between students in classrooms. CDC now recommends that, with universal masking, students should maintain a distance of at least 3 feet in classroom settings. The updated strategy is part of CDC’s resources for K–12 schools to open and remain open for in-person instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Four years ago, during the 2017 Inauguration, the country and the world existed in a very different reality than they do today. Today, a “new world” exists within a global pandemic and among First Amendment activities and protests. The 2021 Inauguration was unique for these reasons but also presented challenges in communications that are not so new. Now, more than ever, agencies need to collaborate to ensure continuity of government and security of the homeland as well as the health of the overall emergency communications ecosystem.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is currently piloting the U.S. Department of Energy’s Technical Resilience Navigator (TRN), a novel web-based resilience planning tool co-developed by PNNL in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for the Federal Energy Management Program. The TRN helps users identify and manage risk to mission-critical infrastructure from disruptions in energy and water services.
Southern California can now expect to see post-wildfire landslides occurring almost every year, with major events expected roughly every ten years, a new study led by U.S. Geological Survey researchers finds. Geologists routinely conduct landslide hazard assessments after wildfires occur, but there is often not enough time between a fire and a rainstorm to implement an effective emergency response plan.
First Responders face challenges when they are called to the scene of an incident. Seconds count, and routing provided by in-vehicle terminals or popular navigation apps may help them arrive fast, but does not consider emergency vehicle-specific factors like size and turning radius, road hazards, or special road rules applicable to law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency medical services. The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate is announcing that an app, QuickRoute, aimed at tackling this challenge is available for responders to download.
In 2020-2021, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that a public health emergency is not solely a public health problem. A multi-discipline, multi-jurisdictional effort is needed to overcome the numerous challenges that communities face. It is not good enough to create lessons learned and best practices if no subsequent actions are taken. DomPrep needs your input on COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts by taking the Pandemic Planning 2021 survey. There is also a comment field for you to add any additional comments/suggestions, lessons learned, best practices, etc.
Mitigating wildfires is not only essential for protecting life, property, and critical infrastructure. It also is essential for controlling climate change, which ultimately causes disasters around the world. National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) estimates that wildfires now cost between $63 and $285 billion a year. According to data from the Fourth National Climate Assessment, wildfires cause 5-10% of annual global CO2 emissions each year. As long as wildfires continue to intensify and burn more area, CO2 emissions are expected to increase because climate change leads to warmer temperatures and favorable wildfire conditions. Furthermore, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report comprises the cost of health effects from exposure to U.S. wildfires between 2008 and 2017 as $450 billion.
Managing conflicts is an integral aspect of law enforcement, but the many nuances of personal interactions can make it challenging and situations can quickly escalate to dangerous levels. The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate is conducting research to learn more about these interactions, with a focus on de-escalation methods. The aim of this effort is to identify effective conflict resolution strategies to inform future training.
The Biden-Harris Administration released the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance. This interim guidance has been issued to convey President Biden’s vision for how America will engage with the world, and to provide guidance for departments and agencies to align their actions as the Administration begins work on a National Security Strategy.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate announced it has published the Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Integrity Library and Epsilon Algorithm Suite to protect against Global Navigation Satellite System spoofing, or deceiving a Global Positioning System (GPS) device through false signals. These resources advance the design of PNT systems and increase resilience of critical infrastructure to PNT disruptions.
The mission of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) is to save lives and protect Americans from 21st century health security threats by leading the nation’s medical and public health preparedness for, response to, and recovery from disasters and public health emergencies. To accomplish this mission, ASPR collaborates with hospitals, healthcare coalitions, community stakeholders and groups, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, the private sector, and other partners across the U.S. to improve readiness and response capabilities.
To help address growing wildfire-related challenges in America, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) rolled out a new Wildland Fire Science Strategy. The new fire strategy will guide future USGS research and help the agency provide timely and relevant information for land managers to tackle fire risks before they occur, during wildfire response and after the flames go out.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced the release of the funding notice for eight different types of preparedness grants worth nearly $1.87 billion. Together, these programs provide more than $1.8 billion in critical funding to assist state and local partners in building and sustaining capabilities to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism and other disasters.