August 22nd, 2016
Author: Rashid Chotani, Senior Scientist, IEM
With Zika virus making its presence known in the United States and local transmission occurring in Florida, there is a growing concern about the risk of Zika. But we have to ask the question: WHY is it spreading so rapidly, and why now? Once Zika virus was identified in Brazil, with knowledge from previous outbreaks, it was obvious that the disease would spread across the Americas and was here to stay. The BIG question was when it would emerge as a locally-transmitted disease in the U.S. Read the rest of this entry »
August 19th, 2016
Author: Dr. Rashid Chotani, Senior Scientist, IEM
IEM’s Dr. Rashid Chotani discusses the Zika virus outbreak and the risks the Olympics in Rio pose to the spread of the disease. Dr. Chotani predicted that the disease would surface in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission has been reported in Wynwood, a neighborhood in Miami, FL. A Texas resident who recently traveled to an area of Miami known as a “hot spot” for local Zika transmission tested positive for the virus, the Texas.
How the Olympics Will Effect Zika Outbreak (7:10)
This was filmed at the International Center for Terrorism Studies at The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies Seminar, June 23, 2016.
June 13th, 2016
Author: Jim Weldin, Senior Emergency Planner, IEM
This is Part 2 of a three-part series on hurricane analysis. Part 1, “Determining the What,” dealt with anticipating the impact of a tropical system. We discussed various tools and projections used by the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management to predict the potential impact of a tropical system. This post focuses on consequence management.
Historical data on the impact of past storms was useful in projecting potential consequences in New Jersey from Hurricane Sandy. In addition, FEMA, through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), provided maps of flood-prone areas and historical data on property flooding insurance claims as part of its mission to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures. GIS mapping helped emergency managers define facilities most at risk, including key residences and businesses; hospitals and schools; and critical infrastructure, such as power plants, water/wastewater treatment facilities, and police, fire, and emergency medical service (EMS) stations. Read the rest of this entry »
June 1st, 2016
Author: Jim Weldin, Senior Emergency Planner, IEM
These series of articles will discuss the aspect of gaining situational awareness during hurricane disasters. The overall theme is to determine the potential storm impact, the consequence of that impact, and finally utilization of this information to provide recommendations for consequence management.
Emergency management and civil defense agencies are responsible for coordinating response to a disaster. This coordination occurs in a centralized location—the emergency operations center—where information is gathered and analyzed to determine the impact or potential impact of an incident, ascertain resource needs, and establish priorities for assigning resources where they are needed most.
I was engaged in this process while supporting the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management when Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast of the United States in October 2012. My experience in the State Emergency Operations Center and 2 weeks later in the Joint Field Office working with 2,600 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) staff was consistent with the challenges that every emergency operations center around the world faces when confronted with a dangerous natural disaster: determining the what, the so what, and the what’s next.
Part One: Determining the What!
The State of New Jersey is the most densely populated in the United States, with a population of approximately 9 million people. Much of that population is centered in the urban areas in the northeast part of the state near New York City and coast of the Atlantic Ocean coast. The unmet needs of this large urban area can quickly overwhelm the capability to deliver services.
To coordinate the assistance needed during disasters, a critical function of the emergency operations center is to determine what is occurring, the impact or the consequence of what is occurring (the so what), and the consequence management or the plan to respond (the what’s next). Significant challenges, however, impede the ability to determine these three elements. Read the rest of this entry »
May 1st, 2014
Author: David Willauer, Transportation Manager, IEM
Another train transporting crude oil derailed yesterday, this time in downtown Lynchburg, VA, resulting in a large fire and oil spill on the James River. CSX reported 15 tank cars derailed on a train traveling from Chicago to Virginia, four of which breached and caught fire. While there were no injuries reported, a half-mile evacuation was ordered by local officials.
Crude oil train derailments are occurring with alarming regularity in North America, and this trend is likely to continue. Advances in methods of extracting oil from shale formations in North Dakota and Canada have led to a dramatic surge in North American oil production. With gaps in the pipeline network connecting production facilities to U.S. oil refineries, producers are relying on rail carriers to transport significant amounts of crude oil to meet this new demand. U.S. freight railroads have carried more than 400,000 carloads of crude oil in 2013 compared to 9,500 carloads in 2008. With this level of crude oil transport continuing for the foreseeable future, it is critical that local officials prepare to respond to these types of incidents.
Higher Flammability of Bakken Shale Oil
Bakken Shale Oil is more volatile than other crude oil, increasing the probability of incidents we have seen in Quebec, Alabama, North Dakota, New York, Pennsylvania, and now Virginia. Read the rest of this entry »
March 14th, 2014
Author: Maj. Gen. Richard Rowe, US Army (Ret.), IEM Vice President of Response and Defense
Reprinted from The Hill
Just 50 years ago, theater missile defenses arrayed our nation’s capital. Since then, we were able to close down the homeland Nike Hercules sites. And for the past 13 years, we have dealt with specific 9-11 type threats by way of air and ground based alert interceptor aircraft and selected deployment of limited short-range air defense capabilities based upon specific threat assessments.
But as the Department of Defense designs our Armed Forces for the future, the joint force capabilities must continue to be responsive to our Combatant Commanders’ requirements. That being said, today – and in the foreseeable future – combatant commanders must consider the threat from aircraft and ballistic missiles. This includes the imperative of protection that can only be provided by Patriot, THAAD, and the SM-3. Read the rest of this entry »
December 10th, 2013
Author: Dr. Patti Aymond, Senior Scientist, IEM
Research shows that in an emergency situation, the most effective warnings are those that are delivered consistently over multiple channels. When people hear the same message from different sources, they are convinced it is real and are motivated to take action.
However, with so many diverse warning technologies available, it has been a challenge to develop a standard format that can be used to distribute a consistent message successfully by all systems.
The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) has addressed this challenge by developing the Common Alerting Protocol, or CAP—a message standard to support the automatic exchange of consistent alert and warning messages among different types of communication systems. CAP increases warning effectiveness and minimizes the complexity of notification since the CAP format is used by a variety of different systems.
As a software developer and a partner in OASIS standards development, I am proud to see the benefits of CAP coming to life through actual use in emergency management situations. This year, we saw it used during the unfortunate series of wildfires in New South Wales, Australia. Read the rest of this entry »
November 12th, 2013
Last week a 60-car crude oil train derailed and caught fire in Western Alabama. To many, the derailment and subsequent conflagration of a 60-car crude oil unit train in rural Alabama may be somewhat of a surprise. After all, Alabama is a long way from North Dakota, the origin of the crude oil transported by rail. However, this is a reminder that this type of incident can occur almost anywhere in the United States and Canada that is connected by North America’s extensive rail network.
Photo credit: Reuters/WBMA
The rapid expansion of crude oil shipments by rail in North America is the direct result of more domestic sources of crude oil. U.S. Class I railroads originated 93,312 carloads of crude oil in the third quarter of 2013, up 44.3 percent over the 64,658 carloads originated in the third quarter of 2012. Since U.S. pipeline projects are currently stalled, this trend of transporting crude by rail is expected to continue. Read the rest of this entry »