Archive for April, 2011

Chemical Company Safety and Security Mandates with Feds on All Sides

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Author: David Willauer, Manager, Transportation & Geospatial Technologies Division, IEM

In a country with many regulatory measures, chemical companies face federal mandates from all sides. Such mandates include operational safety, increased security measures, emergency preparedness and reporting. Some of these mandates from different federal agencies are in conflict with one another. Every federal law related to hazardous materials has its own unique definition.  Common terms are hazardous materials (DOT and OSHA), hazardous substance (CERCLA), listed chemical (TRI and RMP) and listed and characteristic wastes (RCRA).

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6 Vital Catastrophic Planning Considerations

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Author: Michael Icardi, Associate Manager, Preparedness Programs, IEM

Hurrican KatrinaMaintaining a high degree of preparedness for conducting emergency management operations has gone through many iterations of planning paradigms in the recent past. New incidents, both domestic and international, have called attention to the policies, protocols, and procedures that shape response and recovery activities. These incidents highlight the need for catastrophic planning, that is, planning for a disaster that immediately overwhelms the personnel and resources of a jurisdiction; it is a scenario considering the maximum of maximum impacts.

In the past eight years, IEM has served as one of the lead companies supporting catastrophic planning in Louisiana for a major hurricane; Florida and FEMA Region IV for a major hurricane and subsequent breach of the Herbert Hoover Dike along Lake Okeechobee leading to long-term flooding; and the Midwest and South for a major earthquake along the New Madrid Seismic Zone.  Through these efforts, we have identified six concepts that all planners should address during their planning process for a catastrophic incident.

1. Requires fundamental shift in traditional methods

It is easy to become complacent with the status quo for preparedness activities, especially when your jurisdiction has not gone through a significant incident.  As such, the traditional way you provide food and water, sheltering, or evacuation has not been overwhelmed by catastrophic impacts. Planners commonly assume that they can implement operations in the same way they have always done it; they will just scale it up. In Southern California, the Catastrophic Earthquake Response Plan project identified the need to shelter 500,000 survivors in the Los Angeles Operational Area. Using the traditional model, a shelter will hold 300-500 people. Thus, at least 1,000 shelters, personnel and logistical support would be required to shelter 500,000 survivors. The traditional method must be reconsidered. (more…)

Pets and Companion Animals: When You Can’t Evacuate All of Them

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Author: Eston Spain, Emergency Planning Associate, IEM

There is much discussion about pet or companion animal limits. Some states and local jurisdictions have set limits on the number of animals that a person can legally own.  The general consensus is that laws of this nature were enacted to prevent hoarding, enabling “puppy mills,” and other sorts of nuisance complaints where pets and companion animals are involved. While I believe that a responsible pet owner loves and care for their animals and abides by local laws, spays and neuters, and sees to the health and well being of their pets because their animals are considered part of their family, there are others who do not consider an animal’s interest when it comes time to evacuate.

The one element that is central to any argument for or against companion animal limits is the owner.  And one of the issues that I believe must be considered, regardless of how many pets or companion animals a person may have, is can all these animals be safely evacuated if a natural or man-made hazard or disaster occurs that forces an evacuation. Can the pet owner safely evacuate one companion animal; provide enough food, water, pet carrier, additional supplies, such as litter, meds, bedding, etc.? (more…)