• First responseHazmat Challenge tests skills of hazardous materials response teams

    Ten hazardous materials response teams from New Mexico, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Nebraska test their skills in a series of graded, timed exercises. The event requires participants to respond to simulated hazardous materials emergencies involving aircraft, rail and highway transportation, industrial piping, a simulated radiological release, and a confined space event.

  • First response technologyDHS S&T demonstrates integration of first responder technologies

    More ruggedized protective equipment. Reliable and interoperable communications. The capability to filter vast amounts of data. These are all things DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) program envisions  to ensure future first responder are better protected, connected, and fully aware.

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  • ResilienceLessons learned from the U.S.-Canada cross-border experiment

    A tornado has just devastated a community on the border between the United States and Canada. Paramedics scramble to bring patients from over-crowded hospitals across the border. Communication blackouts and downed trees force ambulances to weave their way through blowing debris, fallen electrical lines, and car wrecks. The time for a routine trip from the injury site to the hospital has now tripled. While this did not really happen, it was the focus in April when the DHS S&T and several Canadian government agencies collaborated on a cross-border experiment with a focus on preparing emergency responders for this type of scenario.

  • Disaster evacuationLooking for ways to predict response to hurricane evacuation orders

    Millions of people will likely be in harm’s way as a new hurricane season unfolds in the United States. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts up to eight hurricanes in the 2016 season, and as many as four major storms with winds of 111 miles per hour or more. What people do – or do not do – to get out of harm’s way is of keen interest to disaster and emergency response officials. Plans and contingencies work best when they are based on reliable predictions.

  • Trauma careIntegrating military, civilian trauma care systems could prevent up to 20% of U.S. trauma deaths

    The leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 46 is trauma — a disabling or life-threatening physical injury that results from an event such as a motor vehicle crash, gun violence, or fall. In 2013, trauma cost approximately $670 billion in medical care expenses and lost productivity. Of the 147,790 U.S. trauma deaths in 2014, as many as 20 percent — or about 30,000 — may have been preventable after injury with optimal trauma care. Mass casualty incidents and increasing foreign and domestic threats to homeland security lend urgency to the translation of wartime lessons to civilian trauma systems, says a new report.

  • First responseDatacasting helps first responders with live video streaming via smartphone

    When torrential storms caused widespread flooding in Houston, Texas, in mid-April, first responders needed a way securely to share information amongst their many organizations. Luckily the DHS S&T First Responders Group’s (FRG) datacasting system was available. Datacasting provides public safety users with the capability to transmit secure video and data over existing broadcast television signals to a targeted audience. Even in an emergency situation, where other wireless services often fail due to network congestion, datacasting still provides a reliable platform to quickly send large files.

  • RoboticsHazardous-devices teams compete at the Robot Rodeo, 14-17 June

    Hazardous-devices teams from around the Southwest will wrangle their bomb-squad robots at the tenth annual Robot Rodeo beginning Tuesday, 14 June, at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “The Robot Rodeo gives bomb-squad teams the opportunity to practice and hone their skills in a lively but low-risk setting,” said a member of the Laboratory’s hazardous-devices team.

  • 9/11 search-and-rescueLast surviving 9/11 search-and-rescue dog dies, receives hero's send-off

    The last surviving search and rescue dog who worked at Ground Zero following the 9/11 terrorist attacks died on Monday. Bretagne, a 16-year-old golden retriever, was put down at Fairfield Animal Hospital in Cypress, Texas. As Bretagne slowly walked into the hospital, she was saluted by representatives of state agencies who came to pay their respects.

  • FirefightingSeismic networks can serve as the backbone for 21st century firefighting

    The same twenty-first century communications network used for real-time seismic monitoring in Nevada and parts of California can provide high-quality images to help first responders catch fires before they grow costly and dangerous. Experts say that seismic networks in place to provide earthquake early warning, if designed to sustain multi-hazard monitoring, can provide a robust data backbone for fire cameras that pan, tilt and zoom as they monitor wildfires and other extreme weather events like remote floods.

  • Active shooterActive shooter exercise evaluates tactics, technologies

    The New York Police Department (NYPD), the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) took part in an active shooter exercise early Sunday at a Brooklyn high school to evaluate tactics and technologies for responding to and containing rapidly escalating shooting incidents.

  • EMSIsrael EMS team trains Panamanian medics for terror attack

    United Hatzalah, the national volunteer EMS service in Israel, sent a delegation of EMTs, paramedics, doctors, and logistics personnel to Panama to train their counterparts in providing the proper response for a Mass Casualty Incident (MCI).

  • Disaster planningHistoric preservation often neglected in disaster plans

    Many communities fail to take historic preservation into account when planning for natural disasters, risking a loss of heritage and critical engines of the local economy in the event of catastrophe. Thousands of historic sites are left exposed to risk from floods and storms. “A lot of cultural and historic resources worldwide are at risk when natural hazards strike,” said the author of a recent study. “And even though we know this, very few resources are dedicated to protecting them.”

  • First responseSandia to help California in emergency response planning, training

    Sandia National Laboratories and the California Fire and Rescue Training Authority (CFRTA) this month signed a memorandum of agreement to develop new concepts and capabilities for emergency planning, exercise and response. The agreement provides a framework of cooperation in a variety of vital areas of emergency response planning and training at the California Exercise Simulation Center (CESC) in Mather. The CESC is an exercise and research facility operated by the CFRTA that helps prepare first responders and incident commanders by simulating catastrophic and complex emergency scenarios at low cost.

  • FirefightingProtecting firefighters from harm

    If there is anything common among the 1.1 million firefighters — both career and volunteer — serving in the United States, it is that at any moment, they may be required to put their lives on the line to protect people and property from disaster. But who helps protect these dedicated public servants from the on-the-job dangers they face?

  • DisastersModern buildings have an alarming flaw when people need to escape quickly

    By Achille Fonzone

    The landscapes in which many of us live would have been unimaginable to previous generations. We now have skyscrapers so striking and tall they would make Icarus turn pale. Yet in emergency situations, our seemingly brilliant designs sometimes turn against us – and become death traps when disaster strikes. There is a major problem with the way we evaluate the safety of the structures in which we live and work. Until we address it, our chances of survival are a little like those of the characters from Greek legend – in the lap of the gods.