First response

  • Suppressing naturally occurring blazes increases wildfire risk

    According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 9.3 million U.S. acres burned in wildfires in 2012 compared with 3.57 million acres affected in 2001 and 2.95 million in 1991. One reason for the increase in the number of acres consumed by wildfires is the U.S. government’s policy of suppressing of naturally occurring blazes. Researchers say that this policy can have unintended consequences, including making wildfires more severe.

  • How U.K. can better prepare for emergencies

    Well designed and planned exercises are essential to ensure that the United Kingdom can respond effectively to emergencies of all kinds. The emergencies may take the form of a terrorist attack, flooding, pandemic flu, rail or air disaster — or any major disruptive event requiring an emergency response.

  • DHS acquires 2,700 MRAPs

    The Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles were first deployed to the field in 2007 as a way to protect U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan from ever-more-powerful improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used by insurgents. DHS has acquired over 2,700 MARPs to be used on missions inside United States.

  • Infrared digital holography allows firefighters to see through flames, smoke

    Firefighters put their lives on the line in some of the most dangerous conditions on Earth. One of their greatest challenges, however, is seeing through thick veils of smoke and walls of flame to find people in need of rescue. A team of Italian researchers has developed a new imaging technique that uses infrared (IR) digital holography to peer through chaotic conflagrations and capture potentially lifesaving and otherwise hidden details.

  • Cockroaches gait informs search-and-rescue robot design

    More than 70 percent of Earth’s land surface is not navigable by wheeled or tracked vehicles, so legged robots could potentially bridge the gap for ground-based operations like search and rescue and defense. New insights on how cockroaches stabilize could help engineers design steadier robots for operating on difficult terrain.

  • Jumping soft robots avoid obstacles during search and rescue operations

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    These soft robots can already stand, walk, wriggle under obstacles, and change colors. Now researchers are adding a new skill to the soft robot tool kit: jumping. Researchers make the robots jump by using combustible gases. This ability to jump could one day prove critical in allowing the robots to avoid obstacles during search and rescue operations.

  • Maryland drills first responders in response to “large-scale” incident

    More than 100 police, fire, first responders, military and civilian personnel took part in a homeland security exercise earlier this month at Battelle in Aberdeen, Maryland. The exercise included intelligence and information sharing, mass casualty care, on-site security and protection, operational coordination, and public information and communication.

  • “Live burns” to benefit research and firefighter training

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    Fire researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and colleagues from fire service organizations will turn abandoned wood-frame, single-family houses near the site of an old Spartanburg, South Carolina, textile mill into proving and training grounds for new science-driven fire-fighting techniques. The objective of the study is to improve firefighter safety and effectiveness.

  • Budget cuts cause states to lose ground on emergency preparedness

    A new report examines the preparedness of states for different emergencies, including plans to evacuate children from schools, vaccination requirements, disease outbreaks, the ability to deal with chemical terrorism, staffing for a prolonged infectious disease outbreak, having a multi-hazard written evacuation plan, Medicaid coverage of flu shots, nurses’ ability to work in other states, and other emergency factors; the report found that only five states met eight of the ten measures used to evaluate public health preparedness

  • First responders drill response to a “Night of the Walking Dead” scenario

    DHS funds were approved to pay the $1,000 fee for a week-long conference at Paradise Point Resort and Spa in San Diego; the marquee event of the summit was its highly-promoted “zombie apocalypse” demonstration; Strategic Operations, a tactical training firm, was hired to put on a “zombie-driven show” designed to simulate a real-life terrorism event; the firm performed two shows on Halloween, which featured forty actors dressed as zombies getting gunned down by a military tactical unit

  • Company illegally stores 6 million pounds of explosives, neighboring town evacuated

    The 800 residents of the town of Doyline, located about 270 miles northwest of New Orleans, were hastily evacuated Friday, and may be forced to stay away until today (Tuesday), after the authorities found more the six million pounds of explosives illegally stored on the grounds of Camp Minden, which used to house the Louisiana Army Ammunitions Plant

  • Public safety networks coped better with Sandy than commercial networks

    A new nationwide Long Term Evolution (LTE) network for first responders will be built under the supervision of the First Responder Authority (FirstNet); this network will be an improvement over the commercial networks that experienced outages during Hurricane Sandy

  • Tents provide disaster victims with shelter – and a measure of privacy

    A charity called ShelterBox gives out tents and other essential equipment to victims of war and natural disasters around the world; the lightweight tents the charity provides can withstand winds of up to sixty-two miles per hour; the charity also provides thermal blankets, stoves, pans, utensils, tool-kits, and even crayons for children

  • Technology to help weather bushfires, floods and more

    Natural disasters have increased in severity and frequency in recent years; in 2010, 385 natural disasters affected 217 million people worldwide at a cost to the global economy of $123.9 billion; there is an on-going research into digital technologies and services for disaster planning, preparation, rescue, and recovery; these technologies can help emergency services better manage natural disasters and minimize their effects on people, infrastructure, and the environment

  • New surveillance technologies for improved emergency management

    Researchers are working to design and build resilient streaming sensor networks for emergency response such as bushfires; experts say the emergency services sector can significantly improve the availability of critical information better to manage incidents by exploiting new and emerging surveillance strategies