First response

  • 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

  • Flying robot avoids obstacles

    Researchers have created an autonomous flying robot which is as smart as a bird when it comes to maneuvering around obstacles; able to guide itself through forests, tunnels, or damaged buildings, the machine could have tremendous value in search-and-rescue operations

  • "Stutter jump" could improve performance of search and rescue robots

    A new study shows that jumping can be much more complicated than it might seem; in research that could extend the range of future rescue and exploration robots, scientists have found that hopping robots could dramatically reduce the amount of energy they use by adopting a unique two-part “stutter jump”

  • Approaches to international consequence management for CBRNE incidents

    The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences, through a grant sponsored by NIST’s Office of Law Enforcement Standards (OLES), is organizing an effort to understand the metrics and measures that are needed to develop standards of response that will support the basic capabilities of a country or region to respond to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive (CBRNE) incident

  • Technology used in BioWatch could not detect pathogens, issued false alarms

    The BioWatch program was created to detect the release of pathogens in the air as part of a terrorist attack, but scientists say that the program is unable to detect lethal germs because the system uses defective components; these components often set off false alarms; for example, BioWatch sensors issued fifty alarms between 2003 and 2008, but scientists and security authorities never had enough confidence in the BioWatch system to evacuate an area or take other emergency steps

  • The DARPA Robotics Challenge begins

    The DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) began yesterday, and DARPA wants to know whether you will be part of it; DARPA introduces teams for Tracks A and B, opens registration for Tracks C and D, and launches simulation software for download; the goal of the competition is to help advance robotic technology to the point where it can have a tangible impact on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief