• Sandia 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.

  • Protecting 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?

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

    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.

  • New laser-based aircraft tracking system to aid in disaster relief efforts

    A ground-breaking tracking system called HYPERION, based on eye-safe lasers, could enable aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and even orbiting satellites to transmit vital data to ground stations more securely, quickly and efficiently. HYPERION, offering major benefits compared with the traditional radio frequency (RF) data transmission systems currently relied on in the UAV sector, could allow UAVs engaged in disaster monitoring, surveying, search and rescue, and other humanitarian missions to send detailed images more rapidly back to the ground for analysis.

  • Applications solicited for funding of next-gen first-response technologies

    DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) says that applications are now being accepted through 9 March 2016 for the NextGen First Responder Technologies solicitation, an opportunity for joint-funding by DHS S&T and their partners in the Israeli Ministry of Public Security.

  • DHS, DoE, U.S. Army test operational effectiveness of technology solutions

    Understanding the true potential of a new technology comes with the opportunity to deploy it in a real life, urban environment scenario against adaptive adversaries. Recently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) collaborated with the U.S. Army to assess the operational effectiveness of twenty-five technologies through practical application.

  • In emergencies, don’t trust a robot too much

    In emergencies, people may trust robots too much for their own safety, a new study suggests. In a mock building fire, test subjects followed instructions from an “Emergency Guide Robot” even after the machine had proven itself unreliable — and after some participants were told that robot had broken down.

  • Science-based data collection key to better wildland fire defense

    In February 2011, three fires raged through suburban areas outside of Amarillo, Texas, at the wildland urban interface (WUI), the area where residential communities and undeveloped wildlands meet. A new report by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) describes how researchers analyzed a major 2011 Texas wildland fire using a rigorous and scientifically based post-fire data collection approach, a system they believe will lead to improved defensive measures and strategies for significantly reducing structural damage and property loss.

  • Paramedics' risk of being assaulted far exceeds risk to firefighting colleagues

    Research found that y medical technicians and paramedics are fourteen times more likely to be violently injured on the job than the firefighters they work alongside. The researchers found that assault-related injuries are often not reported, not acknowledged by administration, and therefore they are internalized by the workers as a “part of the job.”

  • Paramedics' risk of being assaulted far exceeds risk to firefighting colleagues

    Research found that y medical technicians and paramedics are fourteen times more likely to be violently injured on the job than the firefighters they work alongside. The researchers found that assault-related injuries are often not reported, not acknowledged by administration, and therefore they are internalized by the workers as a “part of the job.”

  • Northwestern enhancing local safety with new volunteer emergency response training

    Northwestern University says it is enhancing its commitment to the safety of its students, faculty, staff, and visitors by launching a new training session of its Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program for volunteers this April. The CERT program is a volunteer opportunity and training program for community members to help support preparedness activities, community welfare during major special events and organized community recovery efforts following a crisis.

  • Mining social media improves disaster response efforts

    Leveraging publicly available social media posts could help disaster response agencies quickly identify impacted areas in need of assistance, according to a team of researchers. By analyzing the September 2013 Colorado floods, researchers showed that a combination of remote sensing, Twitter and Flickr data could be used to identify flooded areas.

  • A firefighter drone flies, crawls up walls

    The 1974 American disaster film “Towering Inferno” depicted well the earnest struggles of firefighters engaged in ending a fire at a 138-story skyscraper. To this day, fires at high-rise buildings are considered one of the most dangerous disasters. Researchers developed a wall-climbing scout drone to fight fires in high-rises, finding the source of the fires and locating people trapped inside.

  • Precisely pinpointing first responder locations

    When firefighters rush into a burning building, it is essential that they and their operations team know their precise locations at all times. Even with global positioning systems (GPS) and other tracking technologies, environmental conditions, obstructions and interference from the building materials can severely limit pinpointing them. In the event of an injury, search teams rely on communications systems to rescue these first responders. DHS S&T is developing a new system to help tackle this challenge.

  • Remote-controlled robot inspects suitcase bombs

    Abandoned items of luggage are frequently found at airports and train stations. This is a case for the emergency services, which have to assume that these items might contain bombs. They must assess the potential threat quickly, avert any possible danger, and preserve evidence for criminal proceedings. In the future, police will have the support of a remote-controlled sensor system as they go about their duties. Researchers are developing this sensor suite in cooperation with industry partners and criminal investigation authorities.