• DisastersThe Complications of Counting Casualties after Natural Disasters

    There are many gray areas when collecting data on how and why people died in a disaster. A new study now underway aims to identify best practices for collecting, recording, and reporting death and illness data during and immediately after large-scale weather disasters.

  • PreparednessPreparing for the Unexpected Disaster

    When thinking of earthquakes in the U.S., California often comes to mind. But what if a massive earthquake suddenly struck Middle America? Would first responders and emergency managers have the tools to swiftly secure infrastructure and ensure public safety? Would every level of government, as well as stakeholders at non-governmental organizations or in the private sector, know how to properly communicate and share resources? DHS S&T asked itself these questions, and they were the driving force behind S&T joining FEMA and others for FEMA’s 2019 Shaken Fury exercise.

  • First respondersHazmat Challenge Tests Responders’ Skills in Simulated Emergencies

    Ten hazardous materials response teams are testing their skills in a series of graded exercises Aug. 19-23 at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Hazmat Challenge. “Toughest scenarios yet” plus an obstacle course help hazmat teams hone their abilities.

  • Artificial intelligenceEvaluate AI capabilities in Helping Paramedics

    Paramedics must make numerous life-saving decisions, often in the back of an ambulance with limited time. While they at times call doctors for additional medical directives, precious seconds tick away for the patient during these back-and-forth conversations. DHS S&T partnered with its Canadian counterpart to examine whether artificial intelligence could be used to improve that information overload.

  • Perspective: Disaster techThis High-Tech Solution to Disaster Response May Be Too Good to Be True

    The company called One Concern has all the characteristics of a buzzy and promising Silicon Valley start-up: young founders from Stanford, tens of millions of dollars in venture capital and a board with prominent names. Its particular niche is disaster response. And it markets a way to use artificial intelligence to address one of the most vexing issues facing emergency responders in disasters: figuring out where people need help in time to save them. That promise to bring new smarts and resources to an anachronistic field has generated excitement. But there are skeptics, and interviews and documents show the company has often exaggerated its tools’ abilities and has kept outside experts from reviewing its methodology.

  • PerspectiveWorst Rainfall in 150 Years Damages Pennsylvania Homes, Roads

    According to the 150 years of data used by the National Weather Service, 2018 was the wettest year in the Berks region of Pennsylvania, with 68.08 inches of precipitation measured at Reading Regional Airport. This year is ahead of last year’s pace, with 38.21 inches already, far above the normal rate of 24.18 inches. Records for the wettest 12-month period are being set each month, according to the weather service. Some municipal officials say their infrastructure and stormwater management systems can’t handle the amount of rain we’re now receiving, and they are trying to figure out what type of improvements they can afford.

  • First respondersKeeping First Responders Safe

    When two powerful earthquakes rocked southern California earlier this month, officials’ attention focused, understandably, on safety. How many people were injured? Were buildings up to code? How good are we at predicting earthquakes? Not a lot of people were thinking about urine, blood, and spit. But those substances are key to a PNNL effort to learn more about the health and safety of first responders.

  • Explosives detectorsAssessing Handheld Explosives Trace Detectors

    Individuals who carry explosives or have been involved in bomb making are likely to be contaminated with trace explosives, microscopic particles invisible to the naked eye. Without the right equipment, detecting trace explosives can be challenging for responders and security personnel. Handheld explosives trace detectors (ETDs) can be used to complement bomb-sniffing canines, which are still the gold standard in trace explosives detection. These detectors can be used to find trace explosives on individuals, hopefully preventing a dangerous incident.

  • EarthquakeNew Sensor Improves Earthquake Response Efforts

    The recent massive southern California earthquakes shut down Ridgecrest Regional Hospital throughout the 4 July holiday weekend while the tiny town of Ridgecrest assessed the damages. Researchers developed a new optical sensor which could speed up the time it takes to evaluate whether critical buildings like these are safe to occupy shortly after a major earthquake.

  • Radiation risksHelping first responders deal with dirty bombs

    If a radiological dispersal device (RDD), or “dirty bomb,” ever explodes in the United States, emergency crews may be better prepared because researchers have developed a new simulator, which show first responders what an optimal response to an RDD would look like.

  • DronesMedical Drones for Accident and Emergency

    Drones could revolutionize the way in which emergency medical supplies, such as bags of blood plasma, are delivered to areas hit by disaster, accidents or other life-threatening situations. Research have undertaken a cost analysis of using drones for this purpose.

  • First respondersFirst Responder Radiological Preparedness

    A radiological dispersal device (RDD), or “dirty bomb,” detonation in a local jurisdiction will have significant consequences for public safety, responder health and critical infrastructure operations. First responders and emergency managers must quickly assess the hazard, issue protective action recommendations, triage and treat the injured, and secure the scene in support of the individuals, families and businesses in the impacted community.

  • First respondersAI helps protect emergency personnel in hazardous environments

    Whether it’s at rescue and firefighting operations or deep-sea inspections, mobile robots finding their way around unknown situations with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) can effectively support people in carrying out activities in hazardous environments.

  • EarthquakesSatellite observations help in earthquake monitoring, response

    Researchers have found that data gathered from orbiting satellites can provide more accurate information on the impact of large earthquakes, which, in turn, can help provide more effective emergency response.

  • WildfiresDrones help in early detection of forest fires

    Researchers have developed a drone-based system for early detection and prevention of forest fires through drone technology. Sensors can detect fire from 15 kilometers away, and autonomously send drones to investigate, even in conditions of limited visibility, and gathers optic and thermal images of the fire, which the drone sends back in real time.