Connecting Grassroots and Government for Disaster Response
Source: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Leaders in disaster response are finding it necessary to adapt to a new reality. Although community actions have always been the core of the recovery process, collective action from the grassroots has changed response operations in ways that few would have predicted. Using new tools that interconnect over expanding mobile networks, citizens can exchange information via maps and social media, then mobilize thousands of people to collect, analyze, and act on that information. Sometimes, community-sourced intelligence may be fresher and more accurate than the information given to the responders who provide aid. This report explores approaches to the questions that commonly emerge when building an interface between the grassroots and government agencies, with a particular focus on the accompanying legal, policy, and technology challenges.
Active shooters: is law enforcement ready for a Mumbai style attack? (PDF)
Source: Naval Postgraduate School
Between April 16, 2007, and December 14, 20 12, the United States has seen 25 mass shootings, seven of which occurred in 2012. A report by United States Department of Homeland Security, in 2009, suggested that the United States will be the target of a terrorist act that could cause a high number of casualties.
The November 26, 2008, attack on Mumbai is a transparent example of how determined terrorists, trained to die fighting, can bring a large metropolitan city to its knees. It is entirely probable that Mumbai – type attacks could occur in the United States. Since the local law enforcement respond to attacks in progress, any active shooter event would be handled by the local jurisdiction. Many law enforcement agencies have begun to incorporate tactical plans to respond to Mumbai – type terrorist a ttacks.
This thesis focused on police preparedness of select large metropolitan law enforcement agencies for potential Mumbai – type terrorist attacks. A comparative analysis of these police agencies was conducted, which showed that the frequency of trainin g was found to be varying and inadequate by these agencies. A similar concern was that none of the agencies had equipped all the police officers with rifles, which were deemed critical to engage well – equipped active shooters.
It is the conclusion of the thesis that gaps in preparedness exist and law enforcement organizations have room for improvement. It was also concluded that agencies need to enhance communication capability between neighboring jurisdictions and focus on triage of the victims during t he early stages of attacks when medical personnel would be unable to approach.
Fatalities of Pedestrians, Bicycle Riders, and Motorists Due to Distracted Driving Motor Vehicle Crashes in the U.S., 2005–2010
Fatalities of Pedestrians, Bicycle Riders, and Motorists Due to Distracted Driving Motor Vehicle Crashes in the U.S., 2005–2010 (PDF)
Source: Public Health Reports
Distracted driving is an increasingly deadly threat to road safety. This study documents trends in and characteristics of pedestrian, bicycle rider, and other victim deaths caused by distracted drivers on U.S. public roads.
We obtained data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System database from 2005 to 2010 on every crash that resulted in at least one fatality within 30 days occurring on public roads in the U.S. Following the definition used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, we identified distracted driving based on whether police investigators determined that a driver had been using a technological device, including a cell phone, onboard navigation system, computer, fax machine, two-way radio, or head-up display, or had been engaged in inattentive or careless activities.
The rate of fatalities per 10 billion vehicle miles traveled increased from 116.1 in 2005 to 168.6 in 2010 for pedestrians and from 18.7 in 2005 to 24.6 in 2010 for bicyclists. Pedestrian victims of distracted driving crashes were disproportionately male, 25–64 years of age, and non-Hispanic white. They were also more likely to die at nighttime, be struck by a distracted driver outside of a marked crosswalk, and be in a metro location. Bicycling victims of distracted crashes were disproportionately male, non-Hispanic white, and struck by a distracted driver outside of a crosswalk. Compared with pedestrians, bicyclists were less likely to be hit in early morning.
Distracted drivers are the cause of an increasing share of fatalities found among pedestrians and bicycle riders. Policies are needed to protect pedestrians and bicycle riders as they cross intersections or travel on roadways.
Post Disaster Reunification of Children – A Nationwide Approach
Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency
This document reflects our Nation’s first attempt to establish a holistic and fundamental baseline for reunifying children separated as a result of a disaster and aims to assist local, state, tribal, territorial, and insular area governments and those responsible for the temporary care of children, such as educational, child care, medical, juvenile justice, and recreational facilities, in enhancing the reunification elements of existent emergency preparedness plans and/or conducting new all-hazards reunification planning.
Railway Suicides in the UK: risk factors and prevention strategies (PDF)
Source: National Health Service and British Transport Police
From press release:
The lack of research on the gender and ethnicity of people who take their own lives on the UK railway system obscures an urgent need for more effective preventive strategies, a new report has claimed.
‘Railway Suicides in the UK: Risk factors and prevention strategies’, commissioned by NHS England, and produced by mental health charity Careif and the Cultural Consultation Service, reveals inconsistencies in how data on suicide is collected and the way emergency services, government agencies and the police collaborate.
In addition, the widely reported association between mental illness and railway suicide, believed to be due to a station’s proximity to in-patient psychiatric units and severe forms of mental illness such as schizophrenia, requires further research, according to the study.
Among the report’s recommendations is:
• The need for a standardised framework to collect information on suicide, including ethnicity and previous contact with care services
• Better coordination between emergency services to help prevent railway suicides
• More effective intervention in high-risk groups with steps to improve public awareness and public mental health and wellbeing in general
• Implementation of an emergency pathway across all agencies nationally to enable a consistent and coherent response.
Safety, Security, & Contingency Planning for Places of Worship and Faith Based Organizations
Source: Law Enforcement Journal
It is very clear that the world has entered the church. For centuries, the enemy was ever present, intent on bringing harm to those of faith. However, many walk with a blind faith, believing they are safe from evil once inside the church walls. Slowly this safe haven picture faded, as national news highlights increasing criminal activity within places of worship. The actions of leadership and parishioners alike have been made known as some of the first offenders and violators to this Holy Place. The actions of vandals and fire starters encouraged churches to modify existing “Open Door” policies. These modifications are bold reminders to congregations about pain, suffering, and death within the world.
Mortality and cancer incidence in a pooled cohort of US firefighters from San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia (1950− 2009)
Mortality and cancer incidence in a pooled cohort of US firefighters from San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia (1950− 2009) (PDF)
Source: Occupational and Environmental Medicine (via CDC)
To examine mortality patterns and cancer incidence in a pooled cohort of 29 993 US career firefighters employed since 1950 and followed through 2009.
Mortality and cancer incidence were evaluated by life table methods with the US population referent. Standardised mortality (SMR) and incidence (SIR) ratios were determined for 92 causes of death and 41 cancer incidence groupings. Analyses focused on 15 outcomes of a priori interest. Sensitivity analyses were conducted to examine the potential for significant bias.
Person-years at risk totalled 858 938 and 403 152 for mortality and incidence analyses, respectively. All-cause mortality was at expectation (SMR=0.99, 95% CI 0.97 to 1.01, n=12 028). There was excess cancer mortality (SMR=1.14, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.18, n=3285) and incidence (SIR=1.09, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.12, n=4461) comprised mainly of digestive (SMR=1.26, 95% CI 1.18 to 1.34, n=928; SIR=1.17, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.25, n=930) and respiratory (SMR=1.10, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.17, n=1096; SIR=1.16, 95% CI 1.08 to 1.24, n=813) cancers. Consistent with previous reports, modest elevations were observed in several solid cancers; however, evidence of excess lymphatic or haematopoietic cancers was lacking. This study is the first to report excess malignant mesothelioma (SMR=2.00, 95% CI 1.03 to 3.49, n=12; SIR=2.29, 95% CI 1.60 to 3.19, n=35) among US firefighters. Results appeared robust under differing assumptions and analytic techniques.
Our results provide evidence of a relation between firefighting and cancer. The new finding of excess malignant mesothelioma is noteworthy, given that asbestos exposure is a known hazard of firefighting.
Wildfire Management: Federal Funding and Related Statistics (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Library)
Wildfires can have beneficial and harmful impacts on ecosystems (e.g., by reducing fuel loads, or by damaging communities and timber resources). These impacts are generally measured and discussed based on the priorities of humans in these ecosystems. Federal resources are typically deployed during wildfire season—an annual occurrence of intense wildfire activity—to help manage wildfires and potentially minimize some of the impacts, including the loss of life and property. The primary agencies for federal wildfire response are the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior. Federal wildfire response activities involve preparedness, suppression, fuel reduction, site rehabilitation, and more.
More than 9.3 million acres burned during the 2012 wildfire season, which was the third-largest acreage burned annually since 1960. The total amount of wildfire management (WFM) appropriations for 2012 was more than $2.8 billion, not including an additional $407.5 million appropriated in 2013 to repay 2012 WFM wildfire suppression accounts. Over the last five years, WFM appropriations on average have steadily increased relative to earlier years. This leads some to question whether federal resources for wildfire management are being used efficiently.
This report provides wildfire management statistics (e.g., number of wildfires, acres burned, select state wildfire activity, firefighter personnel), presents WFM appropriations from fiscal years 2008 to the present, and discusses two related issues—wildfire suppression funding estimation and air tanker readiness.
Blast Injuries: Fact Sheets for Professionals (PDF)
Source: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (CDC)
• Bombs and explosions can cause unique patterns of injury seldom seen outside combat
• Expect half of all initial casualties to seek medical care over a one-hour period
• Most severely injured arrive after the less injured, who bypass EMS triage and go directly to the closest hospitals
• Predominant injuries involve multiple penetrating injuries and blunt trauma
• Explosions in confined spaces (buildings, large vehicles, mines) and/or structural collapse are associated with greater morbidity and mortality
• Primary blast injuries in survivors are predominantly seen in confined space explosions
• Repeatedly examine and assess patients exposed to a blast
• All bomb events have the potential for chemical and/or radiological contamination
• Triage and life saving procedures should never be delayed because of the possibility of radioactive contamination of the victim; the risk of exposure to caregivers is small
• Universal precautions effectively protect against radiological secondary contamination of first responders and first receivers
• For those with injuries resulting in nonintact skin or mucous membrane exposure, hepatitis B immunization (within 7 days) and age-appropriate tetanus toxoid vaccine (if not current)
Comparing Homeland Security Risks Using a Deliberative Risk Ranking Methodology
Source: RAND Corporation
Managing homeland security risks involves balancing concerns about numerous types of accidents, disasters, and terrorist attacks. These risks can vary greatly in kind and consequence, and as a result are perceived differently. How people perceive the risks around them influences the choices they make about activities to pursue, opportunities to take, and situations to avoid. Reliably capturing these choices in risk management is a challenging example of comparative risk assessment. The National Academy of Sciences review of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) risk analysis identifies developing methods of comparative risk assessment as an analytic priority for homeland security planning and analysis.
The Deliberative Method for Ranking Risks incorporates recommendations from the empirical literature on risk perceptions into both the description of the risks and the process of eliciting preferences from individuals and groups. It has been empirically validated with the participation of hundreds of citizens, risk managers, and policy makers in the context of managing risks to health, safety, and the environment. However, these methods have not as of yet been used in addressing the challenge of managing natural disaster and terrorism hazards.
Steps in this effort include first identifying the set of attributes that must be covered when describing terrorism and disaster hazards in a comprehensive manner, then developing concise summaries of existing knowledge of how the hazards in a unique comparative dataset of a broad set of homeland security risks. Using these materials, the study elicits relative concerns about the hazards that are being managed. The relative concerns about hazards provide a starting point for prioritizing solutions for reducing risks to homeland security.
This research presents individuals’ relative concerns about homeland security hazards and the attributes which influence those concerns. The consistency and agreement of the rankings, as well as the individual satisfaction with the process and results, suggest that the deliberative method for ranking risks can be appropriately applied in the homeland security domain.
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Combating Terrorism: DHS Should Take Action to Better Ensure Resources Abroad Align with Priorities. GAO-13-681, September 25.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/658133.pdf
2. Nuclear Weapons: Information on Safety Concerns with the Uranium Processing Facility. GAO-14-79R, October 25.
3. Federal Facilities: Selected Facilities’ Emergency Plans Generally Reflect Federal Guidance. GAO-14-101, October 25.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/658555.pdf
Policing the Patch: An Examination of the Impact of the Oil Boom on Small Town Policing and Crime in Western North Dakota
Policing the Patch: An Examination of the Impact of the Oil Boom on Small Town Policing and Crime in Western North Dakota (Word)
Source: North Dakota State University (Archbold)
The study presented in this report examines how the rapid population growth resulting from the oil boom in western North Dakota has affected policing and crime in the Bakken region. This study is important because it provides an empirical foundation for future research on rapid population growth, policing, and crime in western North Dakota.
See: Why Energy Boomtowns Are a Nightmare for Law Enforcement (Atlantic Cities)
Disasters, Rebuilding and Leadership – Tough Lessons from Japan and the U.S.
Source: Knowledge@Wharton (U Penn)
On March 11, 2011, deep below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, enormous seismic forces reached a tipping point. At 2:46 p.m., one of the earth’s tectonic plates suddenly shifted, thrusting violently underneath another. The North American plate was pushed upward with such force that the movement generated a massive tsunami. It took the wall of moving water 51 minutes to reach the coast of Japan, some 45 miles away.
In some places, the tsunami towered more than 125 feet above the ground when it hit. Thankfully, the height of the wave was far less where it came ashore near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant — “only” 50 feet high. Still, the nuclear disaster caused by the earthquake and tsunami has been rated by the International Atomic Energy Agency as equal in severity to the 1986 accident at Chernobyl, the worst nuclear disaster on record.
The complex catastrophe — earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown — killed close to 20,000 people, displaced hundreds of thousands more and contaminated a large swathe of beautiful countryside for decades or longer. More than two years later, Japan is still struggling to recover and prevent even more devastation.
On May 24, 2013, the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) sponsored a panel at the Wharton Global Forum in Tokyo to consider the leadership lessons generated by the Fukushima disaster, and to look at its impact on Japan’s energy policy and the resettlement of afflicted areas.
While the scale of the natural disaster in Japan was beyond the experience of anyone now alive, it was far from unprecedented and should have been anticipated, according to several post-Fukushima reports. Yet those in leadership positions failed to adequately prepare for the catastrophic events of March 2011. Unwilling to face up to the rare but predictable worst-case scenario, government and industry leaders were quickly overwhelmed by events. The judgments they made and the actions they took — or failed to take — often compounded problems. A close look at these mistakes offers valuable lessons for leaders facing disasters in the future.
Requests for Police Assistance, 2011
Source: Bureau of Justice Assistance
Examines the characteristics and experiences of persons age 16 or older who contacted police to request assistance in 2011. The report describes the perceptions of residents about police behavior and response during these encounters. It details requests for police assistance to (1) report a crime, suspicious activity, or neighborhood disturbance; (2) report a noncrime emergency, such as a medical issue or traffic accident; and (3) seek help for a nonemergency or other reason, such as asking for directions or help with an animal problem. Data are from the 2011 Police-Public Contact Survey (PPCS), a supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, which collects information from a nationally representative sample of persons in U.S. households on contact with police during a 12-month period.
- An estimated 1 in 8 U.S. residents age 16 or older, or 31.4 million persons, requested assistance from police at least once, most commonly to report a crime, suspicious activity, or neighborhood disturbance.
- About 85% of persons who requested police assistance were satisfied with the police response.
- No statistical differences were found between the percentage of Hispanics (86%), blacks (85%), and whites (83%) who reported a crime or neighborhood disturbance and felt the police were helpful.
About 9 in 10 persons who requested police assistance reported that they were just as likely or more likely to contact the police again for a similar problem.
Crisis Standards of Care: A Toolkit for Indicators and Triggers
Source: Institute of Medicine
Disasters and public health emergencies can stress health care systems to the breaking point and disrupt delivery of vital medical services. During such crises, hospitals and long-term care facilities may be without power; trained staff, ambulances, medical supplies and beds could be in short supply; and alternate care facilities may need to be used. Planning for these situations is necessary to provide the best possible health care during a crisis and, if needed, equitably allocate scarce resources.
Crisis Standards of Care: A Toolkit for Indicators and Triggers examines indicators and triggers that guide the implementation of crisis standards of care and provides a discussion toolkit to help stakeholders establish indicators and triggers for their own communities. Together, indicators and triggers help guide operational decision making about providing care during public health and medical emergencies and disasters. Indicators and triggers represent the information and actions taken at specific thresholds that guide incident recognition, response, and recovery. This report discusses indicators and triggers for both a slow onset scenario, such as pandemic influenza, and a no-notice scenario, such as an earthquake.
Crisis Standards of Care features discussion toolkits customized to help various stakeholders develop indicators and triggers for their own organizations, agencies, and jurisdictions. The toolkit contains scenarios, key questions, and examples of indicators, triggers, and tactics to help promote discussion. In addition to common elements designed to facilitate integrated planning, the toolkit contains chapters specifically customized for emergency management, public health, emergency medical services, hospital and acute care, and out-of-hospital care.
Annual report on firefighter fatalities in the United States
Source: U.S. Fire Administration
Eighty-one firefighters died while on duty in 2012.
- The total break down included 42 volunteer, 28 career, and 11 wildland agency firefighters.
- There were 4 multiple firefighter fatality incidents claiming a total of 10 firefighters.
- Fifteen firefighters died in duties associated with wildland fires.
- Activities related to emergency incidents resulted in the deaths of 45 firefighters.
- Twenty-two firefighters died while engaging in activities at the scene of a fire.
- Seventeen firefighters died while responding to or returning from 16 emergency incidents.
- Eighteen firefighters died as the result of 14 vehicle crashes, six involving POVs, six involving apparatus, and six from two separate incidents involving aircraft.
- Heart attacks were the most frequent cause of death with 39 firefighter deaths.
- Eight firefighters died while they were engaged in training activities.
- Twelve firefighters died after the conclusion of their on-duty activity.
Information for First Responders on Maintaining Operational Capabilities during a Pandemic (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security
First responders have a critical role in prehospital emergency care and must continue to provide this essential service and fill the many emergency response roles in a community. The first responder community includes: fire, emergency medical services, law enforcement, emergency management, and 9-1-1 telecommunications.
During a severe pandemic, workloads will increase and staff sizes will diminish as employees and their families become ill. Contingency planning now can help reduce the worst impacts: smart planning can save lives.
To help with planning for the impacts of a severe pandemic, this document provides the following kinds of information for first responders:
• Potential ways to adjust operations to maintain readiness and response
• Potential ways for leaders in the first responder community at the local level, including two planning tools
• Reference sheets with discipline-specific potential action steps
This document was a joint effort by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Health Affairs and U.S. Fire Administration with major contributions from a working group of first responders. It provides supplemental information to Pandemic Influenza: Best Practices and Model Protocols (April 2007) and to the FEMA IS-520 Introduction to COOP for Pandemic Influenza on-line course (August 2009).
While background information about pandemic influenza is also provided, updated influenza information should be gathered regularly. Current information about circulating influenza viruses, including important guidance, is provided by the Department of Health and Human Services at http://www.flu.gov. State and local public health organizations will have the most current information regarding the status of pandemic in your jurisdiction. Communication and coordination with these entities is an essential part of planning as well as actual operations. Better-protected first responders can better protect their communities. We hope this information contributes to a safer and healthier first responder workforce.
Fire Service Operations and Tactics During Disasters and Emergencies
Source: U.S. Fire Administration
This guide is a fire and emergency medical services (EMS) resource that can be used to support planning and preparation for active shooter and mass casualty incidents. These complex and demanding incidents may be well beyond the traditional training and experience of the majority of firefighters and emergency medical technicians. The U.S. Fire Administration offers this guide as one source of many available for the public safety community, but it takes into consideration the diverse local service levels available across America. In developing the guide, we consulted with individuals and groups engaged in fire and pre-hospital emergency medical services, law enforcement, and hospital medical and trauma care. We also consulted with public safety organizations and numerous federal agencies.