• Florida Panhandle counties less prepared for emergency than rest of state

    found that the vast majority of counties in the Florida Panhandle were less prepared for emergency evacuation compared to the rest of the state. Of the 67 counties in Florida, 10 were rated as having weak levels of evacuation preparedness, and all of these counties were located in the Panhandle/North Florida. Eleven of 16 counties with moderately rated plans also were in this region. Only seven of the counties in the Panhandle had strong plans.

  • Civil engineering professor urges Midwest tornado preparation

    Researchers rely on a pair of analytical observations more commonly invoked in fields such as cognitive psychology, economics or political science — prospect theory and game theory — to make Tornado Alley safer. The unofficial geographic designation encompasses Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and other parts of the central United States.

  • An elevator tech that could save lives in a high-rise fire

    When there’s a fire in a high-rise building, safety rules dictate that you don’t take the elevator. You head for the stairs instead. But what if using the elevator could actually be the fastest – and safest – way to evacuate a building on fire? Seventeen years after 9/11, an Israeli startup is testing its solution to turn the elevator into a traveling ‘safe room’ that can facilitate rescue operations.

  • New technology may help police tackle emergencies at public events

    Medical emergencies for fans during athletic events can quickly turn into life-or-death situations. Researchers are using technology to help police monitor emergency and public safety information on game day. “Police departments and first responders can use the social media posts to reach people in need of assistance, including medical emergencies, disaster emergencies or criminal activity. During the start of football season, it can be used to find fans having heat-related medical issues,” says one researcher.

  • The first line of defense against acts of targeted violence

    Tragic events at the Boston Marathon, African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, and Pulse nightclub in Orlando remind us that ideologically motivated violent extremists pose a persistent threat to Americans of all backgrounds. Our first defense against attacks is grounded in our understanding and response to terrorism within our country. While the ideologies that support acts of targeted violence are diverse, so too are our responses and prevention activities.

  • Better integration of big data, ICT in disaster response

    A comprehensive review of studies of the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and big data in disaster response, identified some important gaps: more information is needed on the use of technologies. Most articles discussed the use of ICT in natural disasters which were mainly hurricanes and earthquakes. What was underreported was data on extreme temperatures and flooding, even though these events account for 27 percent and 26 percent of global deaths respectively.

  • New first-responder safety, efficiency systems on the way

    Two homeland security technologies will be developed jointly by American and Israeli companies to increase the safety and efficiency of first-responders — law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical services —  after getting funding from the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation. The technologies will build advanced technologies for victim location and radio communication.

  • High- and low-tech solutions for bomb disposal

    To ensure bomb techs are on the cutting edge of technology as they address evolving threats, DHS S&T created the Response and Defeat Operations Support (REDOPS) program. REDOPS connects the 466 bomb squads of varying sizes and budgets across the country with the tools and information they need to perform their duties better, faster and more safely. They look at a variety of sources—including the commercial marketplace, responder communities and international partners—for high- and low-tech solutions.

  • New laser solution could slow spread of forest fires

    Aggressive wildfires are rampaging through many countries this summer, bringing death and destruction in their wake. In California alone, firefighters are scrambling to control 18 separate blazes. Texas, Oregon, Florida, New Jersey, as well as Canada, Greece, India, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the U.K. are among other areas battling massive forest fires, a phenomenon experts expect will only increase due to climate change. Israeli company Fighting Treetop Fire is developing a system of removing combustible foliage with algorithm-controlled laser beams controlled via helicopter or truck.

  • Solar flares disrupted radio communications during 2017 hurricane relief effort

    An unlucky coincidence of space and Earth weather in early September 2017 caused radio blackouts for hours during critical hurricane emergency response efforts, according to a new study. The new research, which details how the events on the Sun and Earth unfolded side-by-side, could aid in the development of space weather forecasting and response.

  • New model predicts landslides caused by earthquakes

    Landslides are the third-largest contributor to earthquake deaths, after building collapse and tsunamis. From 2004 to 2010, earthquake-induced landslides caused an estimated 47,000 deaths. Researchers have developed a model which can help experts address such risks by estimating the likelihood of landslides that will be caused by earthquakes anywhere in the world.

  • Better decisions during a radiological emergency

    Whether a catastrophe is natural or man-made, emergency managers need to respond quickly with the optimal solution. Making decisions on the fly can be difficult, which is why significant planning must go into a disaster response strategy. Many conversations need to happen, and they need to cover a range of possible scenarios. The Radiation Decontamination tool Rad Decon was developed to facilitate those very discussions during a radiological emergency.

  • VR tech to help understand, ease the cognitive overload on first responders

    First responders’ lives depend on their ability to navigate structures during an emergency — a task researchers hope to make easier by using virtual reality technology to help understand cognitive overload, which occurs when smoke, fire, and stress combine to thwart a first responder’s sense of direction.

  • New app tracks locations, vitals, keeping first responders safe

    When first responders are on a mission, being able to quickly and easily track the location of their fellow responders can be challenging, especially in situations where the team is spread out. Many responders are only able to coordinate their locations by radioing each other or the command post and providing a very detailed message on their exact location. This can be time consuming and can change every second if they are in an emergency situation or on a call. The Watchtower mobile application allows users to track and report their location using the GPS already built into a smartphone.

  • Reducing fire hazards from materials

    Fire researchers will tell you that there’s a simple solution for reducing fire hazards: eliminate flammable materials. If it doesn’t burn, the experts say, then there won’t be a fire. Of course, that option isn’t very practical or realistic; after all, who wants to sit on a block of cement when you can have a cushiony recliner? NIST offers a better strategy for reducing the thousands of deaths and injuries and billions of dollars in damage resulting from the more than a million fires each year in the United States.