• First responders“Social media triangulation” to help emergency responders

    During emergency situations like severe weather or terrorist attacks, local officials and first responders have an urgent need for accessible, reliable and real-time data. Researchers are working to address this need by introducing a new method for identifying local social media users and collecting the information they post during emergencies.

  • Search & rescueSoft, growing robot for searching people under collapsed buildings

    Imagine rescuers searching for people in the rubble of a collapsed building. Instead of digging through the debris by hand or having dogs sniff for signs of life, they bring out a small, air-tight cylinder. They place the device at the entrance of the debris and flip a switch. From one end of the cylinder, a tendril extends into the mass of stones and dirt, like a fast-climbing vine. A camera at the tip of the tendril gives rescuers a view of the otherwise unreachable places beneath the rubble. This is just one possible application of a new type of robot – a robot that can grow across long distances without moving its whole body.

  • Search & rescueSearch and rescue dogs perform well despite travel stress

    When disaster strikes, you want the very best tools, functioning at their peak. In the case of catastrophic earthquakes, tornadoes, or even bombings in war zones, those tools are search and rescue dogs. But researchers have found that getting dogs to disaster sites can add to the animals’ stress. search and rescue dogs fly on a moment’s notice to the site of a disaster, where they are expected to perform at the top of their game. But, just like for humans, flying can be stressful for dogs.

  • HazmatHazmat Challenge tests responders’ skills

    Ten hazardous materials response teams from New Mexico, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri tested their skills in a series of graded, timed exercises at the 21st annual Hazmat Challenge 10-14 July at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Ten hazardous materials response teams tested their skills in a series of graded, timed exercises simulating hazardous materials emergencies involving aircraft, rail and highway transportation, industrial piping, a biological lab, and a confined space event.

  • First respondersLessons for first responders on the front lines of terrorism

    By Mahshid Abir and Christopher Nelson

    Acts of terrorism are on the rise globally. Over the past several weeks alone, the world has seen stabbings, shootings and bombings in Flint, Tehran, London, Kabul and Bogota. Given the persistent risk of terrorist attacks and large-scale accidents, it’s more critical than ever to learn from past incidents. That will ensure that first responders can work together effectively during the chaotic but critical minutes and hours after an incident.

  • Building safetyCould a tragedy like the Grenfell Tower fire happen in the U.S.?

    By Brian Meacham

    The Grenfell Tower fire in London has triggered questions about how the tragedy could have happened, whether it could happen elsewhere, and what might be learned from it to prevent future disasters. The Grenfell Tower fire spread much faster and more intensely than anyone expected. From what we know so far, there are physical, cultural and legal reasons dozens of people died. Addressing each of them will help British authorities, and fire protection and fire prevention professionals around the world, improve their efforts to reduce the chance of future tragedies like the one at Grenfell Tower.

  • ImmigrationCuomo pardons 9/11 ground zero worker facing deportation

    Governor Andrew Cuomo has pardoned an undocumented immigrant who worked on to help clean up ground zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The pardon would help Carlos Cardona fight deportation proceedings. Cardona was convicted in 1990, when he was 21-year old, for attempting to sell a controlled substance.

  • IdentificationRapid DNA technology verifies relationships after mass casualty events

    Rapid DNA technology developed by DHS S&T has recently been used to identify simulated “victims” in several mass casualty exercises across the United States. The technology greatly expedites the testing of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the only biometric that can accurately verify family relationships.

  • WildfiresDrones help in better understanding of wildfires

    U.S. Geological Survey scientists and partners are taking technology to the next level, using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to acquire both fire intensity and emissions data during prescribed burns. This effort combines expertise from multiple USGS partners that could reduce the harmful effects of smoke impacts from use of prescribed burns. Lessening the risk to property and lives during wildfires is a primary purpose of prescribed burns.

  • Emergency communicationCreating high-speed internet lane for emergency situations

    In a disaster, a delay can mean the difference between life and death. Emergency responders don’t have time to wait in traffic — even on the congested information superhighway. Researchers are developing a faster and more reliable way to send and receive large amounts of data through the internet. By a creating a new network protocol, called Multi Node Label Routing protocol, researchers are essentially developing a new high-speed lane of online traffic, specifically for emergency information.

  • Emergency communicationAI to aid in humanitarian efforts

    Mobile phones are one of the fastest growing technologies in the developing world with global penetration rates reaching 90 percent. However, the fact that most phones in developing countries are pre-paid means that the data lacks key information about the person carrying the phone, including gender and other demographic data, which could be useful in a crisis. Researchers have developed an AI algorithm to accurately predict the gender of pre-paid mobile phone users, so that emergency response teams would have better information about those affected by disasters.

  • Bomb squads Bomb squads to compete in annual Robot Rodeo

    Robots are life-saving tools for bomb squads and emergency response teams, providing them a buffer from danger. Sandia National Laboratories is hosting the 11th annual Western National Robot Rodeo, a four-day event where civilian and military bomb squad teams get practice using robots to defuse diverse, dangerous situations.

  • First respondersNew tool for first responders: An ice bag to the face

    A new study suggests a simple bag of ice water applied to the face could help maintain adequate blood pressure in people who have suffered significant blood loss. the researchers’ aim is to help prevent cardiovascular decompensation, a sudden precipitous drop in blood pressure that limits oxygen delivery to the heart, brain, and other vital organs. Decompensation is a significant risk after blood loss, even once the person is no longer actively bleeding.

  • Disasters & social mediaBig data study of disaster-related social media language helps first responders

    Researchers explore how the properties of language style used in social media — particularly on Twitter — can help first responders quickly identify areas of need during a disaster. The researchers analyzed several hundred thousand tweets from social media users located in and around the areas where Hurricane Sandy, the Oklahoma tornadoes, and the Boston Marathon bombing occurred.

  • First respondersSelecting to right first responder technology

    With the abundance of tools and technologies available to assist first responders, it is important to address questions such as: How do the tools perform in real-world response situations? Can they withstand uncertain environments? Are they easy to use when a responder is wearing protective gear? How heavy is the technology? Will it weigh down, or fit within the gear of a responder who is already wearing their full kit? To help first responders answer these questions so they can make informed decisions about technology acquisition, DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) First Responders Group (FRG) hosted a 3-day Urban Operational Experimentation (OpEx).