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Number 507• Aug 14, 2008 | Past Issues











1) Death of Center for Capacity Building Draws Criticism of NCAR

News this week of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) plan to ax the Center for Capacity Building outraged the science and social science communities. The center is known for bridging the gap between climate science, policy, and society, and emphasizing developing countries’ needs in climate change response and adaptation.

Message board, blog, and discussion list postings accused NCAR of being short-sighted and unconcerned with the application of science to social issues—among other criticisms—after a New York Times article reported the $500,000-a-year program, headed by 35-year NCAR veteran Dr. Michael “Mickey” Glantz, was being cut because of budget shortfalls.

“In terms of value for money, Dr. Glantz’s science was among the best, being cutting-edge and cost-effective, yet influencing the world,” Ilan Kelman, a former colleague of Glantz and senior research fellow at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo, told the Times. “He also ensured that science was used for humanity and by humanity.”

In his Radix e-mail discussion list, Kelman implored readers “not to let such appalling and destructive actions go unopposed” and asked them to write to members of NCAR, the National Science Foundation, and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) Board.

Kelman was far from alone in his dismay—climate scientists Roger Pielke, Jr., IPCC author Neville Nicholls and many others decried the center’s closing and Glantz’s departure. For commentary on the issue and to add your own voice to the conversation, see the Times Dot Earth blog at or Pielke’s posts on the Prometheus Science Policy blog about the original incident and what he sees as NCAR damage control. The original New York Times article can be found here.

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2) Los Angeles Emergency Preparedness Weaknesses Come to Light

The City of Los Angeles is “groping in the dark” when it comes to emergency preparedness, according to City Controller Laura Chick.

An audit released last recent month outlined the city’s many shortcomings, including outdated emergency plans that don’t meet national standards; disorganized emergency preparedness trainings and exercises; lack of collaboration between the city and non-governmental agencies; and poorly managed public safety grants.

“In audit after audit, I have found that the city does not have a clear vision or strategic plans in areas including our park system, affordable housing, transportation, and gang violence prevention,” Chick wrote in a letter to Los Angeles City Council members. “Emergency preparedness is the number one (area) that cries out for a coordinated, constantly up-dated, state of the art strategic plan.”

The report, which includes information on emergency management staffing, budgets, and recommendations for improvement can be accessed at the Los Angeles City Controller Web site.

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3)Guide Preps Hospitals to Handle Dead in Mass Fatalities

Many hospitals could be unprepared to deal with a deluge of dead bodies in the instance of a mass fatality such as an earthquake or flu pandemic, and most haven’t even formulated a plan, according to those studying death in disaster. In a recent assessment, Los Angeles County learned only eight of 103 hospitals in the county had a written plan to address a mortality surge that would overwhelm morgue capacity.

“Hospitals want to start working on this, but they don’t know where to start,” Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency Planning Coordinator Tamiza Teja, said at the Natural Hazards Workshop in July. “What we’re trying to do is provide some tools.”

Teja’s agency, in partnership with county emergency services, public health, and coroner departments, just released those tools in the form of a guide called Mass Fatality Incident Management: Guidance for Hospitals and Other Healthcare Entities. Although geared to hospitals in Los Angeles County, the guide’s checklists, action plans, organizational charts, fact sheets, and other resources were created to be easily adapted by individual healthcare agencies.

The guide is available on the Los Angeles County Health Services’ Web site.

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4) Social Science PhDs Mostly Satisfied, Mostly Professors

A doctorate in social science might not be the key to happiness, but a survey of 3,025 individuals who earned a PhD in a social science field between 1995 and 1999 found them mostly using their education in satisfying full-time positions— 63 percent in tenured or tenured-track professorships. While those surveyed— including PhDs in anthropology, communications, geography, history, political science, and sociology—found their degrees “very important” in their positions, many felt more could be done to prepare them for careers, academia, and writing and publishing.

The results of the 2005-2006 study are now available in Social Science PhDs—Five+ Years Out, an evaluation conducted by the Center for Innovation and Research in Graduate Education (CIRGE). CIRGE concluded that, although social science PhD programs are doing a good job preparing students for their careers, more should be done to recognize the modern demands of women and family, develop management competency, and prepare graduates for work in writing, teaching, and publishing.

The results of the report, broken down by discipline, methodology, and data, can be viewed online.

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5) New Fabric Suited to Radiation, Chemical, and Biological Threats

When it comes to first responder chic, a new material by Radiation Shield Technologies could be the last word in protective fashion. The Florida-based company has developed a material called Demron-W that promises to protect the wearer from radiation, chemical, and biological agents, according to a Miami Herald report last month. The suit would offer emergency responders protection in situations where they face multiple or unknown contamination threats.  

The head-to-toe suits, which retail for about $1,500 each, weigh about 12 pounds and are thermal conductive, according to the report. Underwriters Laboratory (UL) certified the suits as a protective ensemble under requirements for NFPA Class 2 and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism incidents, according to Reuters. The certification can be viewed online. For more about RST, visit their Web site.

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6) School’s Out During Pandemics—Or Is It?

While the Petri dish effect of children gathered in schoolrooms is commonly accepted, state laws authorizing school closures in times of pandemics and emergency could leave room for viruses to grow, according to a recent report commissioned by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report, Legal Preparedness for School Closures in Response to Pandemic Influenza and Other Emergencies, examines laws and pandemic flu preparedness and response plans from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. While 47 states allowed for short-term closure of schools during epidemics and other disasters, agencies weren’t authorized to approve longer closures needed to prevent the spread of disease. Adding to that lack of foresight, only four states gave health and education departments joint authority for school closures and no state emergency management departments were given authority until after a state of emergency had been declared.

The report authors, based at the Center for Law and the Public’s Health at Georgetown and John Hopkins Universities, concluded the lack of standardized authority could lead to delay in action during a pandemic while officials struggle to overcome confusion or disagreements about what agency is responsible for closing schools. The full report can be downloaded from the CDC Web site.

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7) Call Outs: Calls for Abstracts, Papers, Proposals, and More

Call for Papers
2009 Annual Association of American Geographers

The Association of American Geographers is now accepting papers, interactive short papers, abstracts, illustrated papers, and poster presentations for its 2009 annual meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, March 22-27, 2009. Submissions must received by October 16, 2008.

Presenters are invited to give one presentation that describes the purpose, methods, and conclusions of their research. Abstracts can be submitted online after participants have registered. For submission guidelines in each category, visit the Annual Meeting Web site.


Survey Respondents
UN/ISDR Hospitals Safe from Disaster Initiative Mapping Study

The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction is partnering with the World Health Organization to map efforts that keep hospitals, health systems, and other healthcare providers safe during disaster. Organizations and others working with the issue of healthcare safety during disaster are asked to complete a short survey on their work. The results will be compiled and published by the UN/ISDR. The survey can be taken online.

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8) Some New Web Resources

[Below are some new or updated Internet resources we have discovered. For an extensive list of useful Internet sites dealing with hazards, see]

No Ordinary Flu Comic Book
The No Ordinary Flu comic book is no ordinary attempt at promoting pandemic flu awareness. The comic book—perhaps more aptly described as a graphic novella—makes readers aware of the modern-day pandemic threat as it relates the tale of a family affected by the 1918 flu epidemic. The publication, created by Washington’s Public Health— Seattle & King County, is available for free download in 12 languages. Print copies are limited.

Preferring a Pound of Cure to an Ounce of Prevention
Why shell out money for a disaster that might never occur? Voters won’t provide the answer according to this recently released report that found voters rewarded politicians for disaster relief spending—even when unrelated to disaster damage—but remained ambivalent on prevention spending. Andrew Healy of Loyola Marymount University and Neil Malhotra of Stanford Graduate School of Business wrote Preferring a Pound of Prevention to an Ounce of Cure: Voting, Natural Disasters, and Government Response after examining data on the voting behavior, disaster incidence, and federal spending in the 3,141 U.S. counties.

What’s your Readiness Quotient (RQ)?
Get ready, get set, get your score. This online survey only takes a moment to complete and immediately provides a rating of individual readiness, the average for test taker’s zip code, and national scores—along with resources targeted to the particular preparedness deficiencies identified. The RQ site, developed by the Council for Excellence in Government, also offers national preparedness data, information on how groups and schools can use the test, and links to preparedness organizations.

Emergency Management Institute Student Papers
Student researchers now have a new outlet for their work on FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI) Web site. The Higher Education Project has devoted a section of its Student’s Corner to quality student papers that address real world issues facing emergency managers. Accepted papers include research, term papers, theses, dissertations, and published articles.

Why Have We Not Been Attacked Again? Competing and Complementary Hypotheses for Homeland Attack Frequency
While it might not be possible to gauge the role of anti-terrorism measures by the absence of U.S. terrorist attacks since Sept. 11, 2001, this report analyzes possible explanations for a lack of subsequent attacks. The report, funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Science Applications International, aims to provide a comprehensive look at various lack-of-attack hypotheses and promote understanding of the effectiveness of U.S. counter-terrorism efforts.

Interim Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG 101)
This interim guide, Producing Emergency Plans: A Guide for All-Hazard Operation Planning for State, Local & Tribal Governments, is the first of FEMA’s efforts to update their longstanding series of state and local planning guides with a new product—the Comprehensive Preparedness Guide. Designated CPG 101, Producing Emergency Plans, is the cornerstone for the series, which will eventually tackle topics of planning for prevention, protection, response, and recovery. A team of more than 30 state, local, and tribal emergency preparedness officials created the interim guide to help public and private emergency planners develop emergency response plans. Forums and open comment periods will be held before finalizing the document.

National Emergency Communications Plan
Lack of communication among emergency response providers, especially during recent disasters and terrorist attacks, led Congress to direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to get everyone on the same channel. The National Emergency Communication Plan is the DHS answer to that call. The report identifies needs and goals to make the nation’s emergency responder communications interoperable and continuous during disasters. Communication recommendations are outlined for all levels of government and the private sector.

Project on National Security Reform
The U.S. National Security system is short-sighted, inadequately funded, and plagued by in-fighting according to the preliminary findings of a study by the Project on National Security Reform (PNSR). The study condenses analysis and research by more than 300 national security experts from think tanks, universities, federal agencies, law firms and corporations, according to a PNSR statement. The full report can be accessed at the above link. For more about PNSR, which is funded by government, nonprofit, and private agencies, visit the Web site.

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9) Conferences, Training, and Events

[Below are some recent announcements received by the Natural Hazards Center. For a comprehensive list of upcoming hazards-related meetings, visit our Web site at]

Building Seismic Safety Council Seismic Design Procedures Reassessment Group Workshop — Burlingame, CA: September 10, 2008. The Seismic Design Procedures Reassessment Group (SDPRG), also known as Project ’07, will host this one-day workshop focusing on the 2008 U.S. Geological Survey seismic hazards maps, web tools, and seismic motion research. The SDPRG recommendations for changes to the 2009 National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Plan also will be presented.

Disaster Recovery Journal’s Fall World 2008 — San Diego, California: September 14-17, 2008. Each fall Disaster Recovery Journal hosts a business continuity conference that attracts thousands of planners from around the world. The conference will focus on all aspects of disaster recovery, contingency planning, and business continuity.

Seismic Symposium for Central U.S. Earthquake Sources: Is New Madrid All There Is? — New Orleans, Louisiana: September 18, 2008 (tentative). This symposium, to be presented at the annual meeting of the Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists, will address a possible flux in evaluating hazards from sources other than the New Madrid Seismic Zone and whether general background seismicity remains the best model outside of the zone.

Structural Engineering Association of California 2008 Convention — Kohala Coast, Big Island, Hawaii: September 23-28, 2008. This five-day conference features an emphasis on earthquake building techniques including a Seismic Safety, Existing Buildings, and Sustainable Design track and report on the Sichuan Earthquake building damage and retrofit options.

2008 National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians Annual Meeting and Emergency Medical Service Expo — Las Vegas, Nevada: October 13-17, 2008. This four-day conference offers education and training led by emergency medical professionals, as well as networking opportunities and product and technology displays. Conference topics include ethical conflicts from the field, benchmarking, and responding to weapons of mass destruction threat.

International Earthquake Conference: Policy, Planning, and Preparedness — Los Angeles, California: November 12-14, 2008. This conference will present best practices and policies, new ideas, and cutting-edge technology that reduce earthquake risk and minimize losses. Policy approaches and disaster response tools will be discussed.

The World Conference of Humanitarian Studies — Groningen, Netherlands: February 4-5, 2009. This conference seeks to provide a venue for scholarly understanding of humanitarian crises through dialogue with policymakers and implementing agencies. The conference will be a meeting ground for academics and practitioners concerned with humanitarian issues, allowing them to take stock of the current theory, debates, and humanitarian studies and reflect on existing practice opportunities for improvement.

International Erosion Control Association Environmental Connection ‘09 — Reno Nevada: February 10-12, 2009. This annual IECA Conference will provide peer-reviewed education; tracks on stormwater management, beach and shoreline stabilization, and wetlands technology, and related products and technology.

2009 National Hurricane Conference — Austin, Texas: April 6-10, 2009. The National Hurricane Conference aims to improve hurricane preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation with the goal of saving lives and property in the United States, Caribbean, and the Pacific. In addition, the conference serves as a national forum for federal, state, and local officials to exchange ideas and recommend policies improving emergency management. Emphasis will be on lessons learned, programs worthy of emulation, new ideas, assistance programs, and the basics of hurricane preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation.

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10) Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

[The following job postings provided an overview of some selected openings in hazards-related fields. For more information on a particular job, please follow the links provided.]

Global Water, Sanitation, Hygiene ( WASH) Rapid Response Team Member Oxfam
United Kingdom

Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: August 20, 2008
This position coordinates WASH initiatives during emergencies and provides country-level technical support. Applicants should have suitable qualifications in WASH-related disciplines and substantial practical experience responding to humanitarian crises.


Director of Disaster Response
World Concern

Seattle, Washington
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: Open until filled
This position directs disaster response projects, provides technical consultations, and develops partnerships with donors and agencies. Position requirements include a bachelor’s degree and at least seven years of experience in international disaster response management, leading multicultural teams, or the ability to design, present, and execute strategic plans.


Business Continuity Manager
University of Washington Emergency Management
Seattle, Washington
Salary: $50,000 to $55,000
Closing Date: Open Until Filled
This position manages activities and new programs related to the university’s business continuity management efforts. A bachelor’s degree in information management, emergency management, or related field and five years experience managing and maintaining disaster recovery and business continuity infrastructure is required.


Exercise Coordinator
New York City Department of Health
New York, New York
Salary: $52,641 to $81,961
Closing Date: Open until filled
This position coordinates with several agencies to implement emergency preparedness exercises. A master's degree in a related field and at least four years of professional experience is required.


Supervisory Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Specialist, GS-0301-13
Gulf Coast Transitional Recovery Office
New Orleans, Louisiana
Salary: $77,670 to $100,976
Closing Date: Open until filled
This position implements and coordinates long-term recovery mitigation programs. Applicants must meet the minimum qualification requirements as contained in the Office of Personnel Management Qualification Operating Manual.


Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Specialist, GS-0301-11
Gulf Coast Transitional Recovery Office
New Orleans, Louisiana
Salary: $54,494 to $70,843
Closing Date: Open until filled
This position performs statistical analysis, financial performance reviews, and tracks for the Hazard Mitigation Grant program. Applicants must meet the minimum qualification requirements as contained in the Office of Personnel Management Qualification Operating Manual.


Emergency Manager
Amarillo College Office of Emergency Management/Safety
Amarillo, Texas
Salary: Not posted
Closing Date: September 30, 2008
This position will develop and manage a comprehensive all-hazard emergency operations plan. A bachelor's degree in a related field and two years emergency management experience is required.


Emergency Management Planner
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
Boston, Massachusetts
Salary: $66,284 to $66,284
Closing Date: August 15, 2008
This position will develop a comprehensive, integrated mass fatality plan and work closely with related agencies. A bachelor’s degree or higher in a health-related field and previous experience in emergency management mass fatality planning is preferred.


NIMS Compliance Coordinator
Office of Emergency Management
Arlington, Virginia
Salary: $43,368 to $71,718
Closing Date: Not posted
This position will develop and implement an integrated National Incident Management System (NIMS) emergency action plan for county employees, businesses, and community organizations. A bachelor's degree in public administration or related field and 18 months experience in program administration and/or management is required.

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If you or your organization would like to add a job posting in the DR, please feel free to e-mail the information to

Questions for the readership and contributions to this e-newsletter are encouraged. Questions and messages should be indicated as such and sent to

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