Blogs from 2013

By Chelsea Person, CHHS Extern After attending the 2013 National Alliance of State Animal and Agricultural Emergency Programs (NASAAEP) Animals in Disaster Summit, I am glad to see there are many resources for animals during disasters. However, I learned that one of the largest draw-backs this area of emergency management still faces today is the lack of awareness about available resources and a simple, coordinated reporting system for states to take advantage of these resources. When Hurricane Katrina struck the gulf coast in 2005, the need for emergency plans addressing pets came to light.  Many people refused to evacuate because ...Read More
Recently, the State of Maryland strengthened its ongoing commitment to emergency preparedness. On October 29, 2013, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed a new Executive Order to update the State’s preparedness program for homeland security and emergency management, with the goal of leveraging resource data to drive prioritization and investment in preparedness activities. To accomplish this, the Executive Order adopts the Maryland Emergency Preparedness Program (MEPP), which is the State’s overarching platform to ensure a consistent and holistic approach to preparedness. Additionally, as part of Maryland’s commitment to enhancing its ability to withstand natural and man-made disasters, the Maryland Emergency Management ...Read More
It was one year ago this week that Hurricane Sandy made landfall along the eastern seaboard of United States, threatening millions of lives and the economic centerpiece of the nation.  This unique, catastrophic event tested the public safety community from Virginia to Massachusetts with a potpourri of storm surge, inland flooding, wind, and heavy wet snow in the mountains.  Such a combination resulted in widespread damage ranging from power outages to damaged sky scrapers to urban conflagrations.  Despite even the most comprehensive pre-storm preparations, the cleanup continues to this day, especially along the New Jersey and New York coastline.  Here ...Read More
Baltimore City welcomed cybersecurity professionals and hobbyists from around the world October 8 - 9 at the third annual CyberMaryland Conference held at the Baltimore Convention Center. CyberMaryland was designed to showcase Maryland's cybersecurity strengths – and it did just that. Representatives from federal agencies spoke about the benefits of having the cybersecurity "epi-center" in Maryland, close to government intelligence and defense agencies, cybersecurity companies, and 16 higher education institutions designated as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance. State and local government representatives spoke about cybersecurity advances that are taking place within their own jurisdictions. Maryland universities showcased ...Read More
      Co-Authored by Amanda Eddy, CHHS Research Assistant Our smartphones and tablets are constantly at hand – whether making a call, checking the latest sports score, or catching up on news.  They are a convenient way to stay connected to friends, family and the rest of the world.  But three recent mobile innovations are also taking emergency preparedness to the next level. One currently in the development phases in China, another through a well-known social media tool, and one right here in CHHS’ home-state through a new app. Yesterday, October 17 at 10:17am, more than 24 million people ...Read More
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This month is therefore a good time to be reminded of the importance of securing our cyberspace. It is also an opportunity to educate yourself and others on what issues we face and what we can do to enhance our security. We all know about the benefits and conveniences that the internet and its networks offer us in our work and our daily lives, but it is also important to be mindful of the risks associated with our increased reliance on cyberspace. When it comes to cybersecurity, we have to understand that it is ...Read More
By Amanda Eddy, CHHS Research Assistant The start of a new school year often brings excitement for children as they look forward to seeing old friends, meeting new ones, and carefully selecting their outfit for the first day. But for parents, the first day of school can bring fear. Just last year the nation watched in horror as a gunman in Newton, Connecticut entered Sandy Hook Elementary School killing 20 children and 6 adults. We were again devastated when rescue workers in Moore, Oklahoma found the bodies of seven third-graders who died when their school crumbled after a series of ...Read More
From July 29 - August 2, 2013, CHHS worked with the U.S. Department of State, Office of Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) on an Executive Forum entitled “Prosecuting Terrorism and Organized Crime in the Philippines.”  Six judges and ten prosecutors representing all regions of the Philippines traveled to Washington, D.C. through an ATA program to meet with leading experts on prosecuting terrorism and organized crime.   CHHS Founder and Director Michael Greenberger led the program with support from myself and Senior Law & Policy Analysts Trudy Henson and Mike Vesely.  CHHS has worked with ATA on over a dozen Senior Crisis Management Seminars for ...Read More
On August 6-7, 2013, I attended a workshop in Bangalore, India entitled “Best International Practices in Building Resilient Cities.”  The workshop was organized by the Government of Karnataka in partnership with the Synergia Foundation, a strategic think-tank that works with the public and private sector in the domains of geopolitics, geo-economics, and geo-security. The aim of the workshop was to bring together practitioners and policymakers onto a platform for a deeper exchange of current practices and to identify possible gaps in order to build resilient operating procedures.  It sought to sensitize key stakeholders including bureaucracy, the media, and civil society ...Read More
“Someone doesn't have to weaponize the bird flu. The birds are doing that.” - Dr. Ellis Cheever, Contagion, 2011 On Tuesday, August 6, the British Medical Journal published the first report of suspected human to human transmission of the newly emerging H7N9 strain of avian influenza. This represents a potentially game-changing turn in the progression of the illness as the worst case scenario of a global pandemic hinges on the ability of the virus to achieve sustainable transmission between persons. Fortunately, the evidence in this initial case suggests that the transmission is “limited and non-sustainable” and, as such, represents only ...Read More
By Christina Lauderdale, CHHS Extern On June 20, 2013, ten hospitals in Maryland performed a medical surge exercise. Staff members from CHHS developed the scenario and were present at each participating hospital to evaluate how well hospital staff responded to the mock disaster scenario. At certain hospitals, the exercise also included a hazmat situation, where several patients were exposed to an unknown chemical following a fictional train derailment in Rockville. As an evaluator, I witnessed hospital staff preparing for the possible hazmat situation by dressing in hazmat suits, arranging the outdoor decontamination area, and establishing an effective chain of command. ...Read More
On the heels of the NSA data collection leaks, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has released a report criticizing United States (U.S.) law enforcement agencies for their use of license plate readers as an infringement of privacy. A technology that, for the past several years police departments have used to combat routine crime, as well as prevent terrorist acts on American soil. “Automatic license plate readers are the most widespread location tracking technology you’ve probably never heard of, mounted on patrol cars or stationary objects like bridges, they snap photos of every passing car, recording their plate numbers, times, ...Read More
Lisa Crow also contributed to this blog Recent major national emergency events, including Hurricane Sandy, the Boston Marathon bombing, and wildfires across western states, remind us that the need for robust emergency management programs certainly continues to exist ubiquitously.  However, considering that each of these events spanned multiple jurisdictions, building an emergency management program on one’s terms, independent of any established norms, can prove futile if not risky.  Imagine, for instance, the additional devastation that would have resulted from Hurricane Sandy if New York, New Jersey, and their neighboring states did not “speak the same language” with respect to emergency ...Read More
By Victoria Plotkin, CHHS Extern  CHHS Public Health Program Manager Earl Stoddard III also contributed to this blog An infectious disease that appears to have originated in the Middle East is causing great concern within the medical community. There have been 84 confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and 45 of those patients have died. The methods of transmission, the incubation period of the virus, the factors that increase susceptibility to infection and the treatment regimen are all currently unknown. The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, has gone so far as to describe this ...Read More
By R. Justin Morris, CHHS Extern As any system becomes more technologically advanced, the threats to its security grow exponentially and the system becomes more vulnerable to a variety of dangers. With hurricane season in full swing, it is important for us to remember that the power grid in North America is no exception, and a system that was already highly susceptible to sabotage is now more exposed than ever. “In all my years on the Homeland Security Committee, I cannot think of another issue where the vulnerability is greater and we’ve done less,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), the ...Read More
By Lyra Correa, CHHS Research Assistant Although local police will probably not be able to use “hell fire” missiles to combat the Black Guerilla Family in Baltimore City, as one writer in a recent Baltimore Sun Op-Ed suggests, having drones assist local police in tackling the increased gang and gun violence cannot be easily dismissed. The reality is that drones are already being used all over the country by local police departments and first responders. Law enforcement has recognized that drones can be used to their benefit in various ways: fighting gang violence, gun violence, search and rescue, surveillance, border ...Read More
Residents across the western United States are no strangers to the yearly wildfire season. This year is no exception, with dozens of conflagrations erupting from California to Colorado's Front Range. An Arizona blaze that tragically killed 19 fire fighters in early July brought national attention to their unrelenting nature and devastating effects. Each year these fires threaten millions of lives with evacuations, poor air quality, as well as slowing commerce on major railway lines and highways. Wildfires also test the capabilities of local first responders as well as county and state officials responsible for protecting public safety during and after ...Read More
CHHS Research Assistant Christine Diana also contributed to this blog. Rail travel remains one of the most widely used modes of transportation in the United States.  Thousands of people use trains to commute to work each day, for vacation and business trips, and many companies use freight trains to carry cargo across the country. The frequent use of the railway system may lead to periodic accidents that can be catastrophic in nature. In order to best prepare local areas for train-related incidents, CHHS planned, conducted, and evaluated two operations based exercises to test local and regional response capabilities. One of ...Read More
By Joella Roland, CHHS Extern With the debate over the collection of federal data from internet giants like Facebook and Google fresh in everyone’s mind, it is easy to become disenchanted with the idea of the government monitoring and storing personal information. However, federal data has recently been used for a beneficial purpose in the city of New Orleans. In mid-June, city officials and the United States Department of Health and Human Services took three days to pilot a project harnessing existing Medicare data as a way to locate residents who are dependent on life support systems requiring electricity, such ...Read More
By Rebecca Zorn - CHHS Research Fellow Ms. Zorn currently works as the Community Outreach Coordinator for Montgomery County's Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Images from developing or impoverished countries that show collapsed schools following an earthquake due to poor building codes, or children being targeted on their way to class by extremist groups, are too often seen in international news. For some, it may be hard to acknowledge that children in the US could also face similar adversities at school, or even in our own backyards. This past year, we saw child fatalities at the hands of ...Read More
One of the striking images emerging from the Boston Marathon terrorist attacks was the photograph of the suspect receiving medical care from an ATF officer immediately after his arrest. The grainy image shows a severely injured Tsarnev handcuffed as a field dressing is placed on his neck with what appears to be a breathing tube in his airway. The officer, completely covered in military green down to his medical gloves, kneels next to a medical bag marked “Police,” its contents spilling onto the grass. This is the newest face of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in America. Terrorists have many tools ...Read More
The 2013 Session of the Maryland General Assembly failed to pass cybersecurity legislation related to breach notification requirements that was applicable for businesses and had difficulty passing similar legislation that would apply to the entire State government. These bills require the appropriate entities to notify individuals of a breach of unencrypted personal information.[1] A breach is the unauthorized acquisition of data that compromises the security, confidentiality, or integrity of the personal information. As a result, businesses must continue to comply with the existing breach notification law applicable to commercial entities, and certain governmental units now are required to adhere to ...Read More
Public-private partnerships are vital to enhancing the resilience of our communities against natural and man-made disasters. Working with the private sector enables State Emergency Operations Centers (SEOCs) to expand their jurisdiction’s capacity to prevent, respond to, and recover from major incidents. Public-private partnerships help to increase situational awareness, coordination, and decision-making capabilities during an incident. In addition, such partnerships provide communities with greater resources and capabilities to address incidents. For instance, New Jersey’s Business Operations Center Alliance supported the State’s response to Hurricane Sandy by interfacing with FEMA’s private sector liaisons to insure that donations from Louisiana via AMTRAK reached ...Read More
We all watched in horror as Patriot Day in Boston became the sight and sounds of the latest terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Like the horrific attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, the images and sounds of the Boston Marathon bombings will forever be embedded in our memories. Our hearts and thoughts will be with the victims of these attacks. The response by the local, state, and federal officials was swift, and we can only hope that bringing those responsible for this latest act of terrorism to justice moves just as swiftly. After the Boston attacks occurred, a reporter ...Read More
Effective responses to man-made and natural disasters require timely and continued planning for all hazards. Incidents in the past year, including the June derecho Storm and Superstorm Sandy, have illustrated the need to track the essential services of Maryland communities and assess their vulnerability to energy disruption in the event of a disaster. Gathering this information can be challenging for emergency management and key stakeholders. To address these challenges, the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) have developed the Energy Assurance Plan (EAP). The Maryland EAP, released in July 2012, provides background information to aid ...Read More