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In Photos: Training for a Mass Casualty Event

As several FEMA bloggers have mentioned before, training is vital to being prepared before a disaster strikes.  For those in the emergency response community (first responders, emergency managers, government officials), training is even more important.

At FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP), we provide responders with knowledge to prevent, protect, respond to, and recover from chemical, biological, explosive, radiological, or other hazardous materials incidents.  I wanted to highlight one such course from last week – the Hospital Emergency Response Training for Mass Casualty Incidents. 

This training places emergency response providers in a realistic mass-casualty training scenario after a week of classes.  The training takes place at the CDP’s Noble Training Facility, which is a converted Army hospital now dedicated solely to training hospital and healthcare workers in all-hazards response, including terrorism and manmade disasters.  Below are some photos of the students in action, as they put their knowledge to the test in a simulated disaster scenario. 

As you take a look at the photos, think about the most relevant preparedness training experiences you’ve had.  Then, leave a comment and share what made the training so applicable to real world situations.

- Denis



Michelle Hollingsworth, a registered nurse, listens for breathing following simulated life-saving measures during the Hospital Emergency Response Training (HERT) for Mass Casualty Incidents course.
Anniston, AL, January 21, 2011 -- Michelle Hollingsworth, a registered nurse, listens for breathing following simulated life-saving measures during the Hospital Emergency Response Training (HERT) for Mass Casualty Incidents course. HERT places emergency response providers in a realistic mass-casualty training scenario.

Healthcare workers rush to decontaminate a simulated victim during an exercise at the Center for Domestic Preparedness, located in Anniston, Ala.
Anniston, AL, January 21, 2011 -- Healthcare workers rush to decontaminate a simulated victim during an exercise at the Center for Domestic Preparedness, located in Anniston, Ala. These students were attending the Hospital Emergency Response Training (HERT) for Mass Casualty Incidents course that places emergency response providers in a realistic mass-casualty training scenario.

Healthcare workers triage a simulated victim during an exercise at the Center for Domestic Preparedness, located in Anniston, Ala.
Anniston, AL, January 21, 2011 -- Healthcare workers triage a simulated victim during an exercise at the Center for Domestic Preparedness, located in Anniston, Ala. These students were attending the Hospital Emergency Response Training (HERT) for Mass Casualty Incidents course that places emergency response providers in a realistic mass-casualty training scenario.

Note
Training at the CDP campus is federally funded at no cost to state, local, and tribal emergency response professionals or their agency.  For more information on the CDP's specialized programs and courses, please visit their web site at:  http://cdp.dhs.gov.

500 Supporters, Over 100 Submissions: What's Your Idea?

Since the end of October, we've been accepting your ideas for innovative and effective ways communities can get prepared before a disaster strikes.  I wanted to send out a final appeal to share your preparedness idea before our challenge closes on January 29.

To date, we have published over 140 submissions from the public.  To inspire your creativity, here are a few of them:

My last blog post also highlighted some other submissions, so check it out, too.  Challenge submissions can be sent through the Challenge.gov website or by e-mail.

As you browse others’ submissions and see an idea that piques your interest, I encourage you to share it in your local community.  We can all benefit from sharing good ideas and making our communities better prepared before a disaster strikes.

- Shayne

About the challenge
The deadline is January 29, 2011 and all submissions will be judged based on originality, level of community engagement, and ease of implementation.  Challenge submissions are moderated before posting to the site.

Another Way to Prepare Your Community for Winter Weather – Give Blood

After disaster strikes, the affected community often has a number of immediate needs.  In addition to food, clothing, shelter and medical care, communities affected by disasters often need something that is currently in short supply: blood. 

Having spent more than 35 years in local emergency services in Boston, I can tell you first hand that a strong local blood supply is a critical component to ensuring that first responders and medical staff can help those who have immediate medical needs during an emergency.  The need is real, the need is now.

The American Red Cross, one of the members of the emergency management team, is one avenue where you can donate blood.  They posted the following on their blog:

"We’ve often talked about our 3 steps to preparedness: Get a Kit, Make a Plan, and Be Informed. These steps go a long way towards keeping you and your family safe, but there’s another step that you can take to help keep your entire community safe: Give Blood.

Imagine the surge of need for blood when a disaster strikes. In order to help immediately after a disaster, the Red Cross uses blood that is already on the shelves to support disaster victims. Without a regular flow of donations, this supply may not be readily available. Additionally, accident victims, transplant and cancer patients and others rely on blood products during their treatment. If collections are impacted by a disaster, their long-term care needs could be affected."

What other ways can you help your community prepare before a disaster strikes?  Leave a comment and share your idea.

- Rich

Other links
Other organizations, in addition to the American Red Cross, accept blood donations, including: United Blood Services and America’s Blood Centers.

Cyclone Wilma Update: American Samoa response

We've been closely monitoring Tropical Cyclone Wilma, which passed over American Samoa on Sunday. According to the National Weather Service, a Wind Advisory remains in effect, today, for Tutuila, Aunuu and Manua. A wind advisory means winds of 30 mph or higher are expected.  Occasional showers and isolated thunderstorms are forecast through tonight, and scattered showers are expected through Saturday.

A single shelter remains open on the island and local response agencies, including the American Red Cross, are addressing immediate needs.  No significant damage or casualties have been reported.

A FEMA liaison officer has been deployed to support coordination at the American Samoa Emergency Operations Center in Pago Pago, and FEMA staff in our region IX office in Oakland, California and our Pacific Area Office in Honolulu, are also in constant communication with territorial officials.  Although there has been no request for federal disaster assistance yet, we have teams ready to deploy with help if needed.  FEMA has more than a dozen recovery staff on-island for post Tsunami rebuild, and they are another asset available should that become necessary.

As American Samoa begins to assess damages and starts the process of recovery from Wilma it is an important reminder that tropical storms aren’t limited to hurricane season. Tropical storms and other types of severe weather can occur year-round.  FEMA encourages individuals to do your part to be prepared. If you haven’t already, visit www.Ready.gov and learn how you can protect your homes, families and communities from severe storms and other hazards.

For local updates of the storm on Twitter, follow the National Parks Service of American Samoa.

News of the Day: Volunteers Continue to Help Nashville Recover and Rebuild

Last May, Tennessee was hit with deadly flooding, affecting thousands of residents across 46 counties.  The entire emergency management team responded, providing assistance to disaster survivors in the affected communities. The recovery efforts have been and continue to be an important part of our work here at FEMA, as we keep working with our partners at the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, with local officials, the private sector, faith-based and voluntary groups, and many others to help the impacted communities rebuild.

In short, this recovery has continued to be - and shows the value of - a team effort.

After a disaster happens, it takes many organizations and agencies working together to help individuals and the community get back on their feet quickly.  A critical member of the emergency management team is the volunteer community.  Through the generous giving of their time and energy, volunteer agencies provide many valuable services to disaster survivors.

In that light, we wanted to share this Columbus Dispatch story, highlighting how volunteer agencies are continuing to make an enormous difference in Tennessee’s recovery efforts.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities related to disaster response, visit the National Voluntary Organizations Active During Disasters website.

- Gracia

Other links
Videos of the Tennessee flood response and recovery
Other volunteer opportunities at Serve.gov

Team approach conference helps families in need

Author: 

Nearly all of the 92,000 Louisiana families living in travel trailers, mobile homes and park models following hurricanes Katrina and Rita have transitioned into longer term housing. This is a real, tangible sign of progress in the ongoing recovery of Louisiana. However, it is clear that the less than 500 remaining families are in need of additional resources before they can move on.

That is why I participated in the Team Approach Conference at the Louisiana Recovery Office (LRO) in New Orleans this week. It was the latest effort, hosted by FEMA in partnership with the State of Louisiana, to discuss and help establish permanent or longer-term housing plans for these remaining families.

In addition to FEMA Region 6 and LRO personnel, the group included representatives of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Louisiana's Office of Community Development, state volunteer organizations and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

This round-table discussion focused on identifying and matching unmet needs with available local, state or federal resources to assist the temporary housing unit residents achieve more permanent housing. Everyone in the room had something to offer, whether it was background on what a family may need, knowledge of resources available through an agency, or advice and guidance - all critical components that will help families make a better life for themselves.

We are working with these remaining families every day to ensure we are doing everything within our power to help them down the road to recovery,  and this round-table discussion was another important step in that process.

One thing that we have learned in disaster recovery is that positive outcomes derive only through coordinated and collaborative efforts. All of us - whether from the federal government, the State of Louisiana, a non-profit organization or a local organization - will continue to work together to ensure that the remaining families have access to the resources that can help them move into a more permanent housing solution.

- Tony

Tony Russell, FEMA Region VI Regional Administrator addresses the the Team Approach Conference at the Louisiana Recovery Office.
New Orleans, LA, January 19, 2011 -- Tony Russell (center), FEMA Region VI Regional Administrator, addresses the Team Approach Conference at the Louisiana Recovery Office. The event, hosted by FEMA in partnership with the State of Louisiana, was held to discuss and help establish permanent or longer-term housing plans for these remaining families.

Tracking Tropical Cyclone Wilma

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been closely monitoring Tropical Cyclone Wilma, which developed in the Pacific over the weekend and is intensifying as it forecasted to pass over American Samoa this evening. According to the National Weather Service, Wilma currently has sustained winds of up to 60 miles per hour and is forecasted to reach hurricane strength as it approaches the islands. A storm warning, flash flood watch and high surf warnings are all in effect for American Samoa, and a hurricane warning has been issued for the islands of Tutuila and Aunuu.

FEMA staff in our region IX office in Oakland, California and our Pacific Area Office in Honolulu, are in constant communication  with the American Samoa Emergency Operations Center in Pago Pago.  Although there has been no request for federal assistance yet, we have aircraft on standby and teams ready to deploy with help if needed.

We urge all individuals in the region to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and their local news to monitor for updates and directions provided by their local officials.  For those of you on Twitter, you can follow #Samoa and #cyclonewilma for updates on the storm, and as always, you can follow both Administrator Fugate @craigatfema and @FEMA for the latest information.

As we continue to track the storm and support local officials as they prepare for landfall Wilma it is an important reminder that tropical storms aren’t limited to hurricane season. Tropical storms and other types of severe weather can occur year-round.  FEMA encourages individuals to do your part to be prepared. If you haven’t already, visit www.ready.gov and learn how you can protect your homes, families and communities from severe storms and other hazards.

What We’re Watching: 1/21/11

Potential Severe Weather
Much of New England is forecasted to experience heavy snowfall into early this evening, and the Great Lakes are expected to have lake-effect snow into tomorrow.  In the Pacific Northwest, there is a chance for rain and mountain snow.  Our regional offices will be in close coordination with our state and local partners in case any needs arise. (See the National Weather Service precipitation forecast for the U.S.)

Georgia “Get Ready” Blog
Severe winter weather has been prevalent in 2011, with several storms affecting the eastern part of the country.  Here’s a recent post on the “Get Ready” blog, hosted by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency – sharing the importance of being prepared for the next winter storm.

Establishment of the John D. Solomon Preparedness Award
In November of last year, the emergency management team lost a valuable member of our team with the passing of John Solomon.  John was a champion for emergency preparedness, founding the leading “In Case of Emergency” blog and participating in his local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in New York City, NY. 

Last week, the New York City Office of Emergency Management announced the creation of the John D. Solomon Emergency Preparedness Award, honoring a CERT member who demonstrates outstanding dedication to the program.

A social media week
Social media and emergency management was a frequent topic of conversation the past week.  In case you missed it, here are a few blog posts on the hot topic:

  • Video of Administrator Fugate’s Keynote Speech on Social Media
  • Wired, Twitter, and Beyond: Social Media and Disaster Response
  • "Don’t Make the Public Fit How We Do Business"
  • Leveraging volunteer groups and technology
  • Social Media + Emergency Management: Talking with Tech Leaders on the West Coast

Wired, Twitter, and Beyond: Social Media And Disaster Response

Remember last week when the Administrator was on the West Coast meeting with tech companies to talk about social media, technology, emergency management, and ways to better assist the public in getting prepared, by using the tools they use on a daily basis?

Well two of the places Craig visited were Wired Magazine and Twitter. During his visit to Wired, Craig recorded a podcast. It’s up and you can listen to it on their website.

And here’s a quick video Craig filmed after his meeting with Twitter.



Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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