Archive for the ‘Homeland Security & Emergency Management’ Category

Concepts of Innovation and Maintenance in Emergency Management Planning

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

Authors: Michael Goldsbury, Emergency Management Associate, IEM and Lee Zelewicz, Emergency Management Associate, IEM

This article was originally published in the IAEM Bulletin, Vol. 34, No. 9 September 2017.

 

New Ideas and Old Problems

Innovation and maintenance are terms tossed around a lot when it comes to emergency planning, and plenty of other fields and professions for that matter. An emergency plan might be considered innovative if it uses a new approach, promotes the use of new technology, or borrows ideas from other fields. For example, a recent trend towards managing plans through shared, online storage is one example of a low-cost, innovative approach that is growing in popularity, and increasing secure access to plans. (more…)

IEM and FEMA: Working Together to Save Lives in the Caribbean

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

At IEM, saving lives is the most important thing we help our customers do. Over the past several weeks, IEM Air™ (IEM’s air division) has been on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Reliable air operations are a vital part of any major disaster response operation. When disaster strikes, governments and survivors must be able to rely on the availability of air bridges to ensure that at-risk residents can be evacuated to safety, and vital supplies and commodities can be brought in to sustain survivors. Air operations like these are particularly important throughout the Caribbean, where disparate islands surrounded by vast bodies of ocean create many miles of distance between major supply hubs and people who may need help. (more…)

The Rising Tide of Renters – A Vulnerable Population

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

Author: Gary Scronce, Director of Preparedness Programs, IEM

This article was originally published in the IAEM Bulletin, Vol. 34, No. 6 June 2017.

 

I’m sure most people do not think of renters as an especially vulnerable population, from an emergency management or any other perspective. However, south Louisiana’s (particularly the New Orleans area’s) recovery from Hurricane Katrina, and now the state of Louisiana’s recovery from the 2016 floods, makes it clear that without particular attention to renters who have been affected, recovery of the entire community moves along more slowly. Prior studies have documented that “disasters tend to disproportionately damage rental and low-income housing, which also tends to be rebuilt more slowly,…[1]”. It is an issue that has become more prominent in the recent past and may be a trend we continue to observe into the near future. As emergency planners and managers, we need to take this population into account in our work. (more…)

Using GIS Technology to Support More Rapid Damage Assessments

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

Author: Jim Weldin, Senior Emergency Planner, IEM

In the aftermath of a disaster, such as last week’s Hurricane Matthew, one of the crucial tasks of an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is to determine the extent of impact to the community. This article will discuss the increasing use of Geographic Information Systems as a valuable tool in this process. By modifying and sharing information with the public, both residents and businesses can self-report their damage assessments to EOCs, which helps to develop more immediate situational awareness of the disaster impact.  (more…)

The Challenge of Developing Situational Awareness During Hurricane Disasters—Part Three: Understanding the Impact (or the “What’s Next?”)

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Author: Jim Weldin, Senior Emergency Planner, IEM

This is Part 3 of a three-part series on hurricane analysis. Part 1, “Determining the What,” dealt with anticipating the impact of a tropical system and Part 2, “Consequences (Or the ‘So What?’)” focused on consequence management. 

Hurricane Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City on October 29, 2012, at approximately 8 p.m. The 933-kilometer-wide storm produced 158 kph winds as it moved northwest toward the New Jersey coast as a Category 1 hurricane. A new state record was set for the lowest recorded barometric pressure (an indicator of storm strength), which was measured at 27.94 inches at landfall.

Hurricane Sandy’s impacts on New Jersey included high winds with hurricane-force gusts, storm surge, and significant rainfall. Surge heights were considered major to record-level—i.e., in the 6- to 9-foot range—along the coast, resulting in major inundation of coastal areas and flooding of barrier islands. Rainfall levels totaled up to 7 inches for most locations in New Jersey. (more…)

The Challenge of Developing Situational Awareness During Hurricane Disasters—Part Two: Consequences (Or the “So What?”)

Monday, 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. (more…)

The Challenge of Developing Situational Awareness During Hurricane Disasters—Part One: Determining the What

Wednesday, 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. (more…)

Planning to Provide Continuity

Monday, May 23rd, 2016
Disaster Recovery for Businesses

An open sign is one of the few items left after a tornado struck this convenient store in Oklahoma in 2013. (Photo: State Farm/Flickr)

Author: Gary Scronce, Director of Preparedness Programs, IEM

Where I live in Louisiana, we have been hearing a little more about emergency preparedness than normal lately with the start of hurricane season on June 1 fast approaching. Then this morning, I noticed that the week of May 16-20, 2016 has been designated as Business Continuity Awareness Week. A lot of the focus of the emergency management community prior to hurricane season is on trying to get the public to prepare itself and rightly so. During the first 48-72 hours after a hurricane, people should be prepared to take care of themselves. So how does this tie to Business Continuity? In two important ways at least.

First, the public sector version of Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP). Governments develop COOP plans to help reduce or prevent the risk of critical government services and functions going offline in a disaster. For those risks that can’t be prevented, COOP planning prioritizes those services and functions and seeks to minimize the time it takes to recover them if they go offline. The faster governments can recover, the faster they can resume providing day to day services to their citizens/customers, respond to their emergency needs and support their recovery from disaster.  Being able to do those things helps a community get back to “normal” faster. (more…)

Protecting Our Armed Forces Critical Infrastructure: Prioritize Patriot

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Author:  Maj. Gen. Richard Rowe, US Army (Ret.), IEM Vice President of Response and Defense

Reprinted from The Hill

patriotJust 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. (more…)

Common Alerting Protocol Used in Response to October 2013 Fires in Australia

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Author: Dr. Patti Aymond, Senior Scientist, IEMemergency022

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. (more…)