• First respondersTraining bystanders to act as first responders

    Blood loss is the leading cause of preventable death during an active shooter or intentional mass casualty event where a medical response is delayed. To educate the public – who often find themselves on the front line in emergency situations – a team led by a trauma surgeon from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and EMS from University Hospital are directing the largest Stop the Bleed campaign in the state, teaching laypeople basic skills of hemorrhage control for immediate, on-the-scene care.

  • Mass casualty incidentsMass casualty incidents and the overlap between trauma systems and hospital disaster preparedness

    A single patient with a gunshot wound (GSW) to a vital body part (e.g., head, chest, abdomen, or major artery) will stress a typical community hospital. The more than 500 people who were injured in Las Vegas on 1 October have been transported to a number of hospitals around Las Vegas and have overwhelmed some of the hospitals closest to the scene. A number of the injured are in critical condition and hence the death toll is likely to rise. Among other issues, this tragedy illustrates the overlap between trauma systems and hospital disaster preparedness.

  • Hurricane IrmaAI, citizen science, disaster response combine to help Hurricane Irma’s victims

    A highly unusual collaboration between information engineers at Oxford, the Zooniverse citizen science platform, and international disaster response organization Rescue Global is enabling a rapid and effective response to Hurricane Irma. The project draws on the power of the Zooniverse, the world’s largest and most popular people-powered research platform, to work with volunteers and crowd source the data needed to understand Irma’s path of destruction and the damage caused.

  • ForensicsVoice forensics to help Coast Guard nab hoax callers

    The U.S. Coast Guard receives more than 200 false distress calls a year over its Very High Frequency (VHF) radio channel 16—the mariner’s “911”—and the number is growing. These false calls are not simply a nuisance: Every distress call the Coast Guard receives compels the federal agency to launch an expensive search-and-rescue effort. In December 2014, DHS S&T connected the Coast Guard with Dr. Rita Singh of Carnegie Mellon University to see whether a voice forensic technology could be developed which would glean information from the caller’s audio signal — because this was the only evidence the Coast Guard had in cases of false distress calls.

  • Search & rescueDrones could save lives in disaster zones

    Research from the University of South Australia has shown for the first time that drones can be used to detect human vital signs in war zones and natural disasters. The researchers have successfully trialed unmanned aerial vehicles to measure heart and respiratory rates using remote-sensing imaging systems, while hovering three meters from humans.

  • Emergency communicationNo internet? No problem: Improving communications during natural disasters

    Storms like Hurricane Irma and other natural disasters bring with them lots of uncertainty: where will they go, how much damage will they cause. What is certain is that no matter where they strike, natural disasters knock out power. And no power means no internet for thousands of people in affected areas. Researchers are proposing a new way of gathering and sharing information during natural disasters that does not rely on the internet.

  • Storm surgesStorm surge prediction tool helps emergency managers

    When severe, life threatening weather systems bear down on residents and communities, emergency managers needed every tool available to make informed decisions regarding evacuations, emergency services, and resource staging. Back in June, as Tropical Storm Cindy was nearing the Texas and Louisiana coastlines, Texas state agencies – including the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT), which operates the ferries along the Texas Gulf Coast — were using a combination of online tools and observations to closely monitor water heights since ferries, a key aspect of the state evacuation plan, can’t operate if the water rises more than four and a half feet. Unfortunately, based on their observations, it looked like they were going to have to close the ferry down.

  • Disaster evacuationEscaping an unwelcome visit from mother nature

    Hurricane Irma forced mandatory evacuations throughout the Florida Keys. But with only two main north-south roads in and out of Florida - interstates 95 and 75 - Irma quickly became an exercise in preparedness for a storm described at times as “the size of the state of Ohio.” “Evacuation may not be the best goal in all cases. An alternative strategy to evacuating people to a far away destinations is to build more hurricane shelters near population centers,” says one expert.

  • Aiding Harvey’s victimsFinding better routes for relief supplies to disaster sites like Houston

    Harvey’s trail of destruction through southern Texas this week is drawing attention to the difficulty of providing relief services in a place where roads, ports, and airports are heavily damaged, if not destroyed. One expert uses mathematical modeling and high-powered computing to develop quicker, more efficient ways of moving something from one place to another. “Commercial supply chains are focused on quality and profitability,” she says. “Humanitarian supply chains are focused on minimizing loss of life and suffering, and distribution is focused on equity and fairness much more than in commercial applications.”

  • Hurricane HarveyHouston’s flooding underscores disaster management challenges of years to come

    As the Earth’s climate changes, many scientists predict that warmer temperatures could lead to intensifying hurricanes, with individual storms dropping more rain. As such, the massive flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in and around Houston may presage the challenges that disaster managers will face in the years ahead.

  • Hurricane HarveyWhy Houston isn't ready for Hurricane Harvey

    By Neena Satija, Kiah Collier, and Al Shaw

    The brunt of Hurricane Harvey is projected to miss Houston, but the sprawling metropolis is likely to face massive flooding from its third crippling storm in the past three years. It underscores a new reality for the nation’s fourth-largest city: Climate change is making such storms more routine. Meanwhile, unchecked development in the Houston area is wiping out the pasture land that once soaked up floodwaters.

  • Emergency communicationFirstNet for emergency communications: Six questions answered

    By Ladimer Nagurney and Anna Nagurney

    In the aftermath of 9/11, public safety officials in New York City and around the country realized that firefighters, police officers and ambulance workers needed to be able to talk to each other at an emergency scene – not just to their supervisors and dispatchers. The solution was nearly sixteen years in coming, but on 30 March, the First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet, was created. “It’s hard to know what we’ll need in twenty-five years – just as twenty-five years ago, it would have been very hard to envision the technical details of today’s interconnected world,” say two experts. “But building FirstNet will help protect and serve both first responders and the public during emergencies – and it will enhance communications in times of peace and prosperity.”

  • Emergency communicationEmergency communications in developing countries

    When major emergencies strike, effective communication is critical. Hundreds, if not thousands, of lives can be saved by rapid, clear and well-coordinated communication regarding impending risks, their mitigation, and how to respond when damage is done. Researchers have created a best-practice toolkit to help developing countries rapidly generate and implement life-saving communication plans in the event of local emergencies.

  • Emergency communicationsCreating reliable emergency communications networks

    When disaster strikes, it is important for first responders to have reliable, unhindered access to a controlled network, allowing them to receive and deliver critical information while ensuring effective emergency response. Unfortunately this is currently not the case. Due to power outages and cell tower damages, the infrastructure for communications is not readily available during the response to an incident or disaster, and furthermore, the cost of this infrastructure is unreasonable, even for large organizations.

  • First respondersStrengthening security of first responder sensor systems

    Metronome Software is developing a technology solution that will significantly enhance the security of mobile device-based sensor systems used by first responders with funding provided by DHS S&T. The Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) Apex program is integrating multi-threat personal protective equipment, plug-and-play sensors and advanced communications devices to provide multi-layer threat protection and immediate situational awareness to first responders.