Emergency Preparedness

  • Helping first responders identify chemical, biological, and radiological agents

    The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has expanded the reach and capabilities of its rapid urban plume modeling and hazard assessment system, CT-Analyst, by providing a commercial license to Valencia, California-based Safe Environment Engineering (SEE) for the fields of use of public safety, industrial safety and monitoring, and environmental monitoring. CT Analyst is a tool designed to provide first responders with fast and accurate predictions of chemical, biological, and radiological agent airborne transport in urban environments. CT Analyst will be integrated into the existing product line of SEE’s Lifeline MultiMeterViewer software suite.

  • Arkansas deploys first statewide SmartPrepare system

    Arkansas uses citizen-supplied data for more efficient emergency planning and response. The service allows citizens to create secure profiles online which contain vital details about their household. Public safety officials can use the data to gain greater insight into their communities and identify potential challenges in order to prepare more effectively for disasters, allocate resources, and expedite emergency response and recovery efforts during events.

  • $32 million NSF grants for improving prediction of, response to natural disasters

    With Sandy’s one-year anniversary – 29 October – next week, how do scientists better predict and respond to natural hazards such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, and wildfires? To find answers, the National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded twelve new research grants totaling $32 million. The awards will advance understanding of natural hazards and of technological hazards linked with natural phenomena, as scientists study ways of predicting and responding to hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires.

  • Canadian city developed mathematical formula to evaluate risk

    The City of Hamilton, Ontario has ranked Terrorism fourth on its list of top ten emergency risks, below Hazardous Materials and Explosions, Energy Supply Emergencies, and Epidemics/Pandemics.The city’s ranking of top 10 emergencies for which it plans is not a mere judgment call: The city’s emergency management office uses a mathematical equation to rate the risks to the city and its population.

  • Budget impasse halts enforcement of chemical plants safety standards

    Security experts say that short of a direct nuclear attack on a U.S. city, the most dangerous, mass-casualty catastrophe the United States faces is a terrorist attack on, or an accident in, a chemical facility which would release toxic clouds over neighboring cities and towns. The federal government partial shutdown is making it impossible to enforce safety and security standards formulated to strengthen the ability of thousands of U.S. chemical facilities to withstand terrorist attacks.

  • Halt of CFATS work disrupts debate over program’s merit

    The budget impasse-related halting of monitoring and enforcing compliance with the 2007 Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) comes at a time of growing criticism of the measure by GOP – but not only GOP – lawmakers, who complain that there are too many problems with CFATS and the way it has so far been implemented.

  • Quebec deadly accident revives pipeline vs. rail debate

    The sharp increase in U.S. domestic oil production in the last four years, and the opening by the Obama administration of new areas for drilling, have greatly benefitted U.S. rail companies, which now enjoy the added business of transporting oil from places where pipelines do not exist.U.S. domestic shipments of oil have increased from 9,500 carloads in 2008 to more than 230,000 carloads last year. The deadly Lac-Megantic, Quebec crude-oil train accident revives the debate about the relative safety merits of two modes of transporting oil over long distances – rail vs. pipeline. Proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline project say the Quebec accident will boost support for their cause.

  • Storm predictions for Navy, civilian planners

    With the arrival of the Atlantic hurricane and Pacific typhoon season, and the often dangerous storms that can accompany it, new technology sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) will be used to help Navy and civilian officials alike plan for stormy weather, officials announced the other day.

  • FEMA issues annual National Preparedness Report

    Presidential Policy Directive 8: National Preparedness requires an annual National Preparedness Report (NPR) that summarizes national progress in building, sustaining, and delivering the thirty-one core capabilities outlined in the National Preparedness Goal. The 2013 NPR presents an opportunity to reflect on the progress that that has been made in strengthening national preparedness and to identify where preparedness gaps remain.

  • Larger fire-fighting crews save lives, limit damage in high-rise fires

    Between 2005 and 2009 there were, on average, 15,700 high-rise structure fires annually in the United States. Average annual losses totaled 53 civilian deaths, 546 civilian injuries, and $235 million in property damage. When responding to fires in high-rise buildings, firefighting crews of five or six members — instead of three or four — are significantly faster in putting out fires and completing search-and-rescue operations, concludes a major new study.

  • DHS launches Campus Resilience pilot program

    DHS secretary Janet Napolitano announced Tuesday that seven universities will participate in a national preparedness initiative designed to help campuses train for, respond to, and recover from an emergency situation.

  • Professor to help fashion New York disaster preparedness policies

    When New York governor Mario Cuomo looked over the devastation Hurricane Sandy did to Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, he knew this should not be allowed to happen again. Cuomo also knew who to hire to make sure the city is secure. Irwin Redlener, the director and founder of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Mailman School of Public Health, has been appointed as the co-chair of the New York Ready Commission, which Mayor Michael Bloomberg established after Hurricane Sandy hit the

  • Making buildings more tsunamis-resilient

    Often in disasters such as tsunamis, people escape the on-rushing wall of water by climbing to higher ground, called vertical evacuation. As people race to the third or fourth floor of a building, however, how do they know whether the building will hold up? Walls of water often carry with them cars, trucks, and 60,000-pound fully loaded cargo containers, transforming them into projectiles which slam into buildings with tremendous force. Most structural systems are designed to defy gravity, not a side kick from a shipping container. Engineers are now studying the impact of tsunami-carried debris in order to make buildings and other structures more disaster-resilient.

  • U.K. revises nuke emergency plans post-Fukushima

    The Sizewell nuclear power station in Suffolk, England, was decommissioned in 2006, but after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, the Suffolk authorities thought there was a need to upgrade the emergency plans for the people living around the plant. There are disagreements, however, over the radius of the emergency zone around the plant, and how many people should be included i evacuation plans and given potassium iodide tablets in the event of a radiation leak.

  • Why typhoid fever pathogen targets only humans

    Salmonella typhiis a particularly nasty bacterium that targets only humans and causes typhoid fever, which kills hundreds of thousands of people annually; scientists explain how evolution shaped the pathogen to be so selective