The National Governors Association (NGA) today announced that five states – Alaska, Hawaii, Illinois, Utah and West Virginia – will participate in a policy academy on emergency communications interoperability.
“Interoperability” refers to how federal, state and local emergency responders communicate with each other by voice, data and video on demand and in real time. Interoperable emergency communications are essential to effective public safety, response and recovery operations in the wake of disaster.
A new report being published for the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit will no doubt become part of a broader global debate on the need to improve the safety and security of humanitarian healthcare workers deployed in unstable contexts throughout the world.
EM-COP: the New Reality of First Responder Technologies
The Peel Paramedic Union, OPSEU Local 277, is warning that your family members' lives may be endangered if paramedics cannot find your location in time due to outdated maps on ambulance GPS units.
The mind is the most powerful tool we have at our disposal, and its abilities shouldn’t be taken for granted. Memories stored in our brain constitute a large part of who we are, and our long-term memory allows us to memorize not only facts, but also repetitive physical movements. This is known as muscle memory, or motor learning, a type of procedural memory that is developed by programming a specific motor task or movement into the brain’s memory through repetition.
Those of us who live in Western Canada appreciate the traditional spirit of community service that permeates life in the Prairie provinces. One good example is the Shock and Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS) organization, a non-profit helicopter air ambulance service that provides rapid and specialized emergency care and transportation for critically ill and injured patients. The service’s physicians, nurses, paramedics, and pilots work with a team of dedicated support staff and community partners to save lives.
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Much activity and improvement in the realm of public safety communications interoperability have occurred since the horrific events of September 11th, 2001. One very promising area is that of wireless paramedicine, the ability to get paramedics, and the health community they support, the information they need when needed.
FrontLine’s Executive Editor, Clive Addy, recently took the opportunity to speak with Dwayne Forsman, the Chief Administrative Officer of the Paramedic Association of Canada and Greg Forsyth, Superintendent Special operations of the Ottawa Paramedic Service some questions about the evolution of their profession over the last years and get their opinions on future general needs and responsibilities. Dwayne has been a Paramedic for 37 years, in both rural and urban environments.
First Responders strive to keep the public safe during emergencies. Such careers often put their own safety at risk, and yet we regularly hear stories of courage in the face of those perils.
The warning was unequivocal: Canadians must confront the steadily increasing numbers of technological traps, trip-wires and hazards that await the unprepared, the careless and the unaware.
In October, Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI) president Tim Page opened SecureTech 2013, by describing Canada’s security environment. “Serious risks to pubic safety, threats to our eco systems, traditional way of life and national security challenges abound, and are growing in complexity, impact and cost.”
Emergency Medical Services (EMS) defines a relatively young public safety profession in the United States, when compared to law enforcement and fire services. In a scant 50 years, the delivery of pre-hospital care and transportation of the sick and injured has evolved rapidly. This rapid development has challenges as well, frequently stemming from oft-ignored and underlying major structural concerns that have not been fully addressed.
Changing Culture in Changing Times
A fundamental culture shift is taking place among First Responders (police, fire, and emergency medical services personnel) as they seek to adopt and adapt the technology tools and applications that can affect all aspects of their ability to serve the communities they are sworn to protect.
Michael Nolan, President of the Emergency Medical Services Chiefs of Canada (EMSCC) has a day job that is devoted to responding to the needs of his community in Renfrew County, Ontario. When not on that job, he is buried in dealing with the issues facing the EMS professionals across the country.
The Strategy for a National EMS Culture of Safety asserts that "Emergency medical service (EMS) provider organizations nationwide potentially expose patients, practitioners and members of the public to preventable risk of serious harm, in contrast with advances in safety practices that have been broadly implemented in many other healthcare settings in recent years."
Health care facilities must be able to operate under a variety of potential emergency situations, both natural and man-made. This reality creates significant challenges for those who plan, design, build or renovate these facilities. Now, in a landmark standard recently published by CSA Group, best practices for addressing the complexities of health care facilities have been collected into a single, comprehensive document.
When my generation of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel thinks of data sharing in the field, we have visions of Squad 51 using their Biophone; a combination voice and telemetry radio communications system. Paramedics could call the base hospital and not only talk to the doctor but could also send live cardiac data by way of electrocardiogram rhythms.
Mother Nature was on the warpath in 2011. From the beginning of January ‘till the end of December, there were hundreds of calamities around the world – perhaps none so dramatic and devastating as the Japanese earthquake/tsunami that struck in March.
An aerial view of Slake Lake Fire
Because the snow prevented first responders from reaching their Emergency Operations Centres, they quickly established virtual operations, triggering ground and air rescue missions using their laptops and telephones. In the absence of situational awareness tools (SA), critical information was relayed between police, fire, and emergency medical services (EMS) using telephone and email across several jurisdictions (Lambton County, Middlesex, Sarnia, St. Clair Township/County, Michigan) and between the Ontario Provincial Police, Canadian Forces and the utility companies.
First responders are on the front lines of counter-terrorism. When terrorists attack, emergency services personnel have no choice but to react. That makes police, fire and medical personnel vulnerable to attackers that can strike anonymously, from a distance, with invisible weapons.
“In an emergency situation, we need be able to get a common operating picture quickly,” says Sampson. “Using the map feature on the tablet, I can view a satellite image of the site or even zoom-in to a street level view and assess the surrounding area before even arriving on scene.”
On 15 November 2006, headlines read “Small tsunami waves hit Northern Japan after earthquake.” Not five years later, on 11 March 2011, the world received news of another earthquake in that same area. The 2011 T–ohoku earthquake was the most powerful known earthquake to have hit Japan, and one of the five most powerful earthquakes in the world overall since modern record-keeping began in 1900. It ravaged the Fukushima nuclear plant, shifted the earth on its axis, and destroyed the livelihood of so many Japanese citizens that one wonders how they will recover.
COP – Common Operating (or Operational) Picture – includes relevant operational information such as command post, snipers, enemies, buildings, and terrain. It can be also represented visually, such as with maps, photos, pictometry, diagrams and charts. An effective COP will be simultaneously available to all participants while the action is occurring.
Our hearts go out to all these people, and we want to help. Often, we tweet $10 to the Red Cross or write a check to our favourite charity; this is valuable help and indicative of a community of caring coming together.
Red Cross volunteer out in New Jersey.
The face of public safety is changing because information and communications technologies are permitting First Responders to understand the environment facing them on a mission. For example, if firefighters or police had a complete picture of the event as they were about to respond, they would be better able to deal with the challenges once they arrive on scene. An EMS call could potentially save more lives, for instance, if the paramedics could send high resolution images of the injury to an attending but remote medical specialist.
An interview with Rear Admiral (Ret) James Arden Barnett, Chief, Federal Communications Commission,U.S. Bureau of Public Safety and Homeland Security,discussing the 700MHz bandwidth situation in the USA.
A few months ago, the concept of a nationwide Canadian emergency management network was just that – a concept, a dream. Today, Partnerships Towards Safer Communities Online (PTSC-Online) is a reality. Its growing membership has a good grasp on current issues facing Canadian emergency managers and are deriving value from their participation in this program.
Most research into Critical Infrastructure Interdependency (CII) is based upon ad hoc observations, anecdotes and partial incident-accounts which describe some but not all Critical Infrastructure (CI) sectors and their conditions after the incident. Metrics-based systems for understanding, mapping and modeling of CII have been evolving slowly.
Post September 11, 2001, an increased sense of urgency has been paid to the threat of terrorism; more specifically, to the possibility that terrorists might resort to the use of a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear resources in a deliberate act of aggression. This notion was certainly reinforced when, in 2001, a domestic terrorist(s) mailed letters containing anthrax through the United States Postal System.
With a syringe, Tostaine inflated a bulb at the end of the tube to open the trachea wider. Then he attached a valve mask – a sort of manual ventilator – and pumped it as Ken lay on the hospital stretcher. Ken’s chest visibly moved up and down.
SWAT Paramedic Training.
“That helped,” a voice said.
What? Was Ken able to talk already?
Vancouver will undoubtedly be swarming with people in February and March 2010. In addition to the 2.1 million existing residents in the metropolitan area, an additional 1.2 million athletes, media and spectators are expected to find their way to the lower mainland for the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
(June 2009) Conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this report summarizes the relative importance of identified releases in terms of potential health risks at Los Alamos. The Los Alamos facility had a single mission – perfection of the design and manufacture of the first atomic bombs.
Putting this Border Security edition together, in the wake of the world-wide recession, increased tension in the Middle East, and much turbulence in both Canada and the U.S. over government regimes, was indeed a wonderfully stimulating challenge. Yet, it turns out, the real challenge remains to secure our borders without isolating ourselves (which would reduce our chances of mutual prosperity)… the same issue we have tackled for over 50 years.
Have you ever found yourself, in an emergency, a few hundred yards away from a public safety colleague – police officer, fire fighter, or paramedic – yet unable to transmit vital information to him or her? It happens all too often. Radio systems, cell phones, PDAs, and other devices are not always configured, aligned or even designed to allow inter-agency communication. Often the communications are seriously limited by the available technology. At other times, the agencies lack the proper protocols, governance or knowledge of how to communicate with each other.
Today, the threats to industry vary from those of a decade ago. The natural gas distribution industry has responded to the challenge – we have improved our understanding of new threats; and we have taken steps to ensure the continued reliability of the critical infrastructure that delivers 24% of Canada’s end-use energy to Canadian industry, businesses and homes, and exports half of our production over 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to the U.S.
Most firefighters today receive training that meets the objectives of the First Responder Operational level. Among the many tasks assigned to personnel at this training level are establishing scene control, initiating an incident management system, and performing defensive control functions and emergency decontamination procedures. Training involves classroom and hands-on skills to ensure students are fully capable of performing these and many more vital tasks necessary to ensure that the initial stages of a hazardous materials (hazmat) incident are handled safely and effectively.
Today, mobile field camps are versatile, deployable facilities for both civil and military operations. After a short assembly time, they provide comfortable living and working conditions designed to ease some of the strain of an extended period of deployment. Field camps with sufficient infrastructure can provide the basis for continuous operational readiness, sustainability and motivation.
It’s on CNN
Watching a recent CNN video of a staged Cyber attack showing a large turbine generator self destructing, may have caused some to dismiss the story as yet another attempt to sensationalize and shock an increasingly desensitized TV audience. As the report unfolds, however, one learns that the video was created by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a training experiment, code named Aurora. It’s time to pay closer attention.
The Transportation Research Board of the National Academies just published this study on transit and its role in emergency evacuation. "The purpose of this study, which was requested by Congress and funded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Transit Cooperative Research Program, is to evaluate the potential role of transit systems in accommodating the evacuation, egress, and ingress of people from or to critical locations in times of emergency.
The Olympic Games have become one of the world’s largest sporting events where visitors congregate from many different cultures and languages. For the host country, it is an opportunity to showcase itself internationally. All eyes will be on the scenery and the facilities, with even more scrutiny placed on how well the games are organized and executed.
After meeting Mark Camillo at a recent Conference Board of Canada event covering the Transportation Security Challenges of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, FrontLine Security’s Executive Editor, Clive Addy, contacted him again in Washington for a more in-depth discussion of his insights on this topic. His extensive experience in these matters provides an objective view of the security challenges facing Canada, the Province of British Columbia, the City of Vancouver... and beyond.
IDASSA 2007 is the second Natural Disaster exercise that the Republic of Croatia, in cooperation with NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC), has organized on its territory. The majority of Croatian work for the exercise was organized and conducted by the National Protection and Reserve Directorate.
Croatioan Civil Protection Team on IDASSA exercise. (Photo: Dino Stanin)
Heavy Urban Search and Rescue (HUSAR) teams are multi-disciplinary in nature. Personnel and equipment used by these teams can be deployed locally, provincially, and across Canada to provide the specialized search and rescue to free and recover trapped victims.
Toronto HUSAR team members work to remove heavy debris and secure safe positions within a collapsed structure.
Halton Region takes a “no stone left unturned approach” to planning for emergencies. With a population expected to exceed 439,000 by 2007, Halton is a socially and economically dynamic community located in south western Ontario. Its landscape is an integration of rural and urban interests, supported by agriculture and industry. From an emergency preparedness perspective, there are many challenges – severe weather, spills, and transportation accidents to name a few. The challenge of a lifetime, however, will be a pandemic influenza.
The scene: Just before 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 17, 2006, Mother Nature wreaks havoc with snow, rain, wind, and a flash freeze just east of Ottawa, near the town of Embrun. Driving conditions are terrible, but Highway 417 is busy, as usual. Suddenly, fierce winds create whiteout conditions and vehicles start crashing into each other, with some cars getting stuck under tractor-trailers.
Beware of an alarming illiteracy in Canada! This problem is evident among health officials tasked with protecting the public. It appears that they have not read, or possibly not understood, the science – we know they have disregarded it. Their lack of understanding is egregious. They also have not called upon the cadre of professionals who are well versed in the science and art of protecting people from disease, particularly airborne disease.
I am very pleased to launch FRONTLINE SECURITY in the wake of the change in our national Government. One of the elements that we believe was called for in this change is a clearer and more knowledgeable debate of broader national security issues and their impact on our well-being and democratic society. Our magazine has been designed to offer such a national voice to this debate in a more security-conscious Canadian society. Just as Julian Fantino says of Emergency Preparedness in his interview in this issue, our own magazine is also “a work in progress.”