Responding to outbreaks of transboundary animal diseases is just one of the many challenges emergency planners and responders in rural localities face. Unfortunately, the infrequent nature of these events makes it easy to put off the planning, training, and research needed to fully prepare for animal disease outbreaks.
Traditional definitions of domestic preparedness have been influenced by the Cold War and international terrorism. As the 20-year milestone of the 9/11 attack on the United States passed, domestic terrorism also has made its mark on the interpretation of domestic preparedness. It is time for a fresh look, considering pandemics, local human-caused and natural catastrophes, reoccurring threats (like wildfires, earthquakes, and cyberattacks), and crumbling domestic infrastructure. The landscape of emergency response actions and readiness of public and private agencies in a globally interconnected world has left a deep scar on domestic preparedness and how risk is evaluated both nationally and internationally.
On 5 November 2021, an apparent crowd crush at the Astroworld music festival in Houston, Texas resulted in ten deaths and untold injuries. While the criminal investigation is in its early stages at the time of this article, the music festival undoubtably represents some failures of safety and security planning and execution. The death count and reported injuries are too high to be the normal cost of holding events. Disturbing videos from the event, in addition to statements from concert goers and first responders, belie assertions that initial observations by subject matter experts are impossible until the completion of the investigation. The events at Astroworld are a reminder of the need to “protect the 3Ps” at concerts and special events, and the fact that these activities must be balanced.
Planning for the emergency management needs of space aliens on Earth, in terms of their well-being before, during, and after disasters could be the plot of a science fiction movie script. The movie District 9 has a similar premise: the aliens that arrived on Planet Earth were not warriors, but rather sentient beings totally reliant on help instead. The reality is there are beings like this in every community. They are called “children.”
The increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters coupled with the reemergence of military threats from peer and near-peer adversaries overseas will greatly reduce the ability of emergency managers to meet the needs of disaster survivors. This will necessitate a paradigm shift in the primary role of emergency management from the delivery of resources to managing the scarcity of resources and making better use of them.
Many of the previous stories and after-action reviews conducted for the 2017 Las Vegas shootings have focused on organizers’ and public safety officials’ responses in the aftermath of the attack. In contrast, this article focuses on the events’ security strengths and weaknesses and then offers recommendations for other event planners and public safety officials to improve their plans for future events.
Acts of terrorism continue to affect communities worldwide. As the public tries to retain a semblance of everyday life by attending outdoor events, emergency planners must adapt to new intelligence and learn from past attacks. A review of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings identifies the event security plans’ strengths and shortcomings. Other event planners and public safety officials can use this review and recommendations to plan for large public gatherings within their jurisdictions.
The past 16 months have been challenging. COVID-19 left a trail of destruction and a tremendous loss of life. It has had an impact on almost every aspect of daily life. The economy, supply chains, social norms, schools, and places of worship were all affected. The pandemic also led to increased risk of financial fraud and cybercrime. The nation seems to be turning the corner on the pandemic, and people are gradually setting their sights on returning to a new normal way of life.
The COVID-19 pandemic put many projects on hold and stalled efforts to build the workforce and train the next generation. Now that agencies are revisiting pre-pandemic projects, the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management in Virginia offers a best practices approach for introducing internship programs and filling critical operational and resource gaps.
Volunteer and community organizations active in disaster (VOADs/COADs) operate best by using their four C’s: cooperation, coordination, collaboration, and communication. Emergency managers can build or strengthen this whole community capability in their own jurisdictions through public-private partnerships (PPPs), by performing the four E’s – empower, endow, educate, and entrust.