July 2, 1998


  1. Seeking Partners/Information on Disaster Medical Training

  2. On the Net

  3. The EIIP in July

  4. ERLink Provides Response Communications

  5. An Increasingly Vexing Problem . . .

  6. Attention Graduate Students . . . Call for Papers

  7. Conferences and Training

From Georgia
(The Country, Not the State . . .)

Seeking Partners/Information on Disaster Medical Training

Dear colleagues,

The Emergency and Disaster Medicine Training Center of Georgia (Geo) is looking for partners and other practical and training organizations who work in the same sphere to help us with our efforts.

Our center was established in 1995. We do not have a lot of experience, and we think that collaboration with similar organizations with the same aims and desires will support our work.

Interested organizations, please contact: Dimitri Makhatadze, M.D., Director of EMS TC Georgia, 51, Javakhishvili st., 380002, Georgia; tel/fax: (995) 32 951955; e-mail: ditoems@nilc.org.ge; WWW: http://www.nilc.org.ge/ems.

On the Net

[These are a few of the latest Internet resources we've discovered. For a list of selected Internet/Web sites dealing with disaster management, see http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/sites/sites.html.]

Through the Emergency Management Weather Information Network - IWIN - the National Weather Service lists all the areas across the country that are currently under watch or warning for thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, flash flooding, and other extreme weather. It also provides local weather updates and outlooks, world weather, and in-depth information about short- and long-term weather conditions.

The National Weather Service Training Center and Operations Training Branch, along with the Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology and Education and Training (COMET) recently established the Meteorology Education and Training (METED) home page as the principal location for all Web-based materials produced by the three training facilities. It includes sections on professional development, instruction on the Web, course materials on-line, tele-training and course schedules, case studies, meteorology and hydrology education links, conferences and education, and instructional design techniques. COMET provides the case studies, which include such recent weather events as the "1993 Storm of the Century," Hurricane Erin, several major snow storms, the 1996-97 California floods, and the 1997 Jarrell, Texas, tornado. Information and schedules of other training and education are also posted.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research, Environmental and Societal Impacts Group (ESIG) Web site includes a section on societal impacts of weather. Although we've mentioned this resource before, it warrants another look, because of its ever-growing content. It continues to provide access to ESIG's bi-monthly Internet newsletter WeatherZine for persons interested in research and practice in the societal aspects of weather, as well as the Weather Impacts VJournal - a virtual journal that lists scholarly publications relevant to the societal aspects of weather.

Beyond this, the site offers sections for user groups (insurance industry, emergency management/hazards planning, agriculture, media, and the general public); pages on various phenomena (El Nino, tornadoes, extreme temperature, flood, tropical cyclone, winter, lightning); indexes of community and research tools (people and organizations, upcoming events, bibliographic resources, Web links, mailing lists and news groups); and economic and casualty data. At http://www.dir.ucar.edu/esig/socasp/nsf_grants.html, the site provides a list of NSF Social, Behavioral, and Economics Research Directorate grants that are focused on the societal aspects of weather.

As one might suspect, the National Weather Service's Office of Hydrology (OH) and its Hydrological Information Center offer much information on floods and other aquatic disasters. Besides information about the various components of the office, the OH site offers current and historical data including an archive of past flood summaries, information on current hydrologic conditions, water supply outlooks, as well as an Automated Local Flood Warning Systems Handbook, Natural Disaster Survey Reports, and other scientific publications on hydrology and flooding. The site also provides information and order forms for the office's video on the dangers of Low Water Crossing. The Hydrological Information Center subsection describes the mission of the center, provides much additional information on flood impacts, and offers extensive flood impact data (deaths and economic losses) via the third URL above.

As one might also suspect, the National Weather Service Office of Meteorology Web site is a trove of useful meteorological hazard information. It includes information about the office, notices about the ongoing changes and modernization of the Weather Service, complete "Disaster Surveys" (evaluations of NWS performance before, during, and following disasters), a list of meetings and conferences, natural hazards statistics, a link to the hurricane watch office, a 1998 disaster map, and a list of the many NWS publications and hazard awareness materials available on-line.

The Disaster Resource Guide - both print and Web versions - is a "one-stop catalog," updated annually, that consolidates and provides indexes to educational, organizational, and vendor resources in the areas of safety, emergency management, and business continuity. The publishers of the guide describe their goal as providing "resources for prevention and mitigation of disaster as well as resources for response, resumption, recovery, and restoration after disaster."

Rick Tobin, author of Emergency Planning on the Internet, recently alerted us to a new "game" on the market called EMERGENCY. Although intended for the general public, this simulation, he states, could be used for training by almost any community or discipline, and he recommends that anyone in the profession take a serious look at this product. A demo version is available at the site above.

The EIIP in July

The Emergency Information Infrastructure Partnership (EIIP) Virtual Forum Schedule for July 1998 (all times Eastern Daylight Time):

Please Note:
* The "Round Table" led by a Guest Host will move to Tuesdays at 1:00 p.m.
* The Thursday 8:00 p.m. discussion will now be known as the "Mutual Aid" session. Bring your questions and concerns, be prepared to advise and offer the benefit of your experience to others. This session will be a help desk, a broad-scope forum for all emergency managers.

July 8, Wednesday, 12:00 Noon: The Virtual Classroom hosts Bruce Marshall and Carole Eiben, FEMA EMI, who will discuss EENET broadcasts with details of future plans and programs.

July 15, Wednesday, 12:00 Noon: This month's EIIP panel discussion features speakers from a recent terrorism conference in Ohio.

July 22, Wednesday, 12:00 Noon: "Live" from "Technology Partners for Emergency Management" - FEMA/Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) Workshop.

July 29, Wednesday, 12:00 Noon: The Technical Arena hosts a demonstration of ERLink [see below]; guest speakers, John O'Connor, NCS, and Rod Volz, SETA.

To participate, login to http://www.emforum.org. Create a "New User Account" or access "Chat Login" from the Virtual Forum home page.

ERLink Provides Response Communications

[Adapted from the Emergency Partner Postings - the newsletter of the above-mentioned Emergency Information Infrastructure Partnership - see http://www.emforum.org/eiip/vo02no11.htm.]

Following difficulties communicating during the 1994 Northridge, California earthquake, the Office of the Manager, National Communications System (OMNCS), in conjunction with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), examined ways to improve the communication process. One result was the creation of the Emergency Response Link (ERLink), designed to support the Federal Response Plan (FRP), as well as state and local agencies responding to natural disasters and other domestic emergencies. ERLink is intended to be a focal point of information sharing within the emergency response community.

ERLink is a controlled access Web site from which information can be quickly retrieved, and to which information can easily be added. It hosts operational information such as situation reports, which, while not classified, are often sensitive and require security precautions due to privacy issues regarding casualties, contract funding, and unsubstantiated reports requiring confirmation. To achieve a balance between sharing and securing information, ERLink utilizes both authentication and encryption functions, thus providing the response community with a virtual private network within which it can conduct operations.

Agreements with FEMA and the National Weather Service's National Hurricane Center (NHC) are improving the quality and value of information uploaded to ERLink. The FEMA Daily Report (FDR) is published daily via ERLink, and NHC data (such as weather conditions, storm intensity, and storm tracks) are now mirrored on ERLink.

The ERLink program office continues to work with the response community to improve this service and solicits your feedback. More information about ERLink and an account application form can be found at http://www.erlink.com. Additional information about the National Communications System is available at http://www.ncs.gov.

[Note: An ERLink presentation is scheduled for Noon, July 29th in the EIIP Tech Arena - see previous article.]

An Increasingly Vexing Problem

[Editor's Note: In recent days we have received quite a few notes from friends and colleagues about the "Year 2000" (Y2K) problem - and the challenges (and dilemmas) it poses for emergency managers. Below is a message from Art Botterell - a pioneer in the use of the Internet in disaster management and founder of the Networks in Emergency Management e-mail listserve. We encourage each of you to explore this problem - neither its scope nor its "solutions" are at all clear. However, as Art points out, that very uncertainty behooves us to learn more - and to plan for possible consequences. You can subscribe to the "Nets" listserve by sending an e-mail message to majordomo@sfu.ca with the sole message, "subscribe nets-em [your e-mail address]."


I had a troubling conversation with my officemates this afternoon.

An old friend had sent me e-mail: he wanted to discuss the implications of the Year 2000 (Y2K) date-bug issue.* I mentioned this to a half-dozen bright, technology-savvy Web programmers and designers who work for a high-tech advertising agency in San Francisco.

All had heard of the so-called "Millennium Bug" but, to my surprise, none of them actually knew what the technical problem was. One of them suggested, though, that we all should march down to our banks on the last day of 1999 and demand certified printouts of our account balances, and the others nodded agreement.

I realized then that the big problem we face in the next eighteen months may not be a scattering of software miscues but rather a broad recession of public confidence in our technical and economic infra- structure.

The news is filled with millennial gloom: forecasts of fiscal chaos, survivalists stocking their shelters, politicians accusing their fellows of inaction. Balanced against these lurid reports are a few broad official claims that everything possible is being done to remedy the problem. If my water-cooler sample is typical, the pessimists are winning the debate.

My concern is that unanswered predictions of disaster, especially in the economy, could be self-fulfilling. That's exactly what FDR was talking about when he advised Depression-wracked America that "the only thing we have to fear is - fear itself."

I think it may be time to move the Y2K discussion beyond mitigation and into preparedness. The laws of large numbers dictate that at least a few Y2K glitches inevitably will slip past the current prevention efforts, and it seems that a lot of people understand at least that much.

So we may find that specific explanations of how we plan to deal with the inevitable (though hopefully sparse) crop of Y2K-related miscalculations are more persuasive than the current servings of vague assurance.

That means, of course, that we need to be making those sorts of plans.

I'd like to propose a conversation here in the NETS list about what sort of response-and-recovery plans for Y2K-related problems are out there and how they are, or could be, communicated to our various clients and publics.

- Art

* As you know, this is the problem of computer programs in which dates are abbreviated and which therefore don't understand that the year 2000 actually comes after 1999. This can cause problems when such programs need to compare two dates (to calculate interest, for example.)

Attention Graduate Students . . .
Call for Papers

The Red Feather Journal of Graduate Sociology invites graduate students working in the area of disasters to submit papers for a special issue (Winter 1998) of the journal. The goal of the journal is to promote work that uses a feminist, marxist, critical theory, or postmodern perspective. The journal is located at : http://www.tryoung.com/journals/journal-socgrad/socgradindex.html. Issue #1 is available. Please forward this message to any graduate student you know of who is working in the area of disasters. If you have any questions about the journal, please contact the editor of the special issue on disasters: Phyllis Flott, University of North Texas; e-mail: pfl661@airmail.net.

Conferences and Training

Below are recent conference announcements received by the Natural Hazards Center. A comprehensive list of upcoming disaster-related meetings and training is available from our World Wide Web site: http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/conf.html

Utah Floodplain Management Association Roundtable Discussion: GIS and GPS Applications in Floodplain Management. Ogden, Utah: July 16, 1998. Contact: Judy Watanabe, (801) 538-3750.

Disaster Recovery: Maximizing Federal Aid. Presented by Management Concepts, Inc.

For details, contact: course instructor Bob Cates; (803) 790-7711; fax: (803) 787-7696; e-mail: drcs@colum.mindspring.com. To register, contact: Management Concepts, Inc.; (703) 790-9595; WWW: http://www.mgmtconcepts.com.

Eighteenth U.S. Committee on Large Dams (USCOLD) Annual Meeting, Lecture, and Risk Assessment Workshop. Buffalo, New York: August 8-14, 1998. Contact: USCOLD, 1616 17th Street, Suite 483, Denver, CO 80202; (303) 628-5430; fax: (303) 628-5431; e-mail: stephens@uscold.org; WWW: http://www.uscold.org/~uscold.

First Southern Cross Risk Seminar: "Risk Management and the Future." Sponsors: Southern Cross University Graduate College of Management and others. Lismore, New South Wales, Australia: August 27-28, 1998. Comments/questions to be examined by the seminar are invited and should be submitted by August 1. Contact: Risk Management and the Future, Graduate College of Management, Southern Cross University, P.O. Box 157, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia; fax: (02) 6622-4782; e-mail: gcm@scu.edu.au.

Oklahoma Floodplain Management Association Fall Conference. Afton, Oklahoma: September 16-18, 1998. Contact: Oklahoma Floodplain Management Association, Box 8101, Tulsa, OK 74101-8101; tel: Carolyn Schultz, (918) 669-4919; Neill Pulliam, (918) 491-9995.

National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies (NAFSMA) Annual Meeting and Workshops. Denver, Colorado: September 22-26, 1998. Contact: NAFSMA, 1299 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Eighth Floor, Washington, DC 20004; (202) 218-4122; fax: (202) 842-0621.

Second Meeting and Symposium of the Asian Seismological Commission (ASC98) on Earthquake Hazard Assessment and Related Topics. Sponsors: National Geophysical Research Institute; Department of Science and Technology, Government of India; Indian National Science Academy; and others. Hyderabad, India: December 1-3, 1998. Abstracts due July 31. Contact: S.C. Bhatia, Organizing Secretary, ASC98, National Geophysical Research Insitute, Hyderabad 500007, India; tel: +91-40- 7170141; fax; +91-40-7171564; e-mail: asc98@csngri.ren.nic.in; WWW: http://www.ngri.com/asc98.htm.

Ninth World Conference on Disaster Management. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada: June 20-23, 1999. A call for abstracts has been issued; deadline October 31, 1998. Proposals must focus on "Real Events . . . Real Leaders . . . Real Solutions." Contact: Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness, P.O. Box 2911, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8N 3R5; 1-800-965-4608, (905) 546-3911; e-mail: info@wcdm.org; WWW: http://www.wcdm.org.

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