Number 619 • December 12, 2013 | Past Issues












In the Line of Fire: New EMS Guidelines Increase Chances for Victim Survival

Victims of mass casualty incidents, such as bombings and active shooter scenarios, could now have a better chance of survival thanks to new federal guidelines that support medical professionals entering the fray sooner rather than later.

The recent guidelines, which were released by the U.S. Fire Administration in September, advocate creating local-level policies that allow EMS personnel to respond to seriously injured victims of mass casualties right away, rather than waiting for police to secure the scene.
The most seriously injured are often closest to the threat, so waiting for the area to be secured means those who need treatment the most wait the longest. Although that makes sense for the safety of medical personnel, it can be a death sentence for those suffering serious injuries.

“As we say: Risk a little to save a little, risk a lot to save a lot,” Fire Administrator Ernest Mitchell Jr. told the New York Times in an article published on December 7.
First responders needed a way to treat the injured as soon as possible, without getting in the way of the highly coordinated response that such situations demand. A large part of the problem was that while specialized operations were called for, local firefighters and EMS are often first to respond. Equipping smaller agencies with a protocol for treating victims quickly will allow them to respond more effectively, officials say.

“A lot of places, EMS and fire departments were looking for some guidance, and this really lays it out,” Richard Serino, Federal Emergency Management Agency Deputy Administrator, told the Hartford Courant in October. “It gives them a template that they can work from.”

That template, which was inspired by a document called the Hartford Consensus, recommends that emergency personnel focus on stanching bleeding and removing victims to receive further treatment as soon as possible. Further, when treating victims on the scene, first responders should wear body armor and be accompanied by police. 

Additionally, local fire, EMS, and law enforcement agencies, “must have common tactics, communications capabilities, and terminology to have seamless, effective operations,” the report stated.

The new guidelines come in response to an increasing number of mass casualty situations and the realization that current practices weren’t working. After the Sandy Hook School shootings last year, Dr. Lenworth Jacobs of Hartford Hospital saw the need to make changes. So he organized the committee of government, medical, fire, and law enforcement experts that eventually drafted the Hartford Consensus.

“We’re seeing these events in increasing frequency, and unfortunately we have to change how we approach them to keep death tolls down,” Dr. Jacobs told the Times.

The issuance of the USFA guidance isn’t the end of the committee’s efforts, however. Recognizing that bystanders can also provide valuable assistance, they are now working on the Hartford Consensus II, which would provide CPR-like training to the public.

“You have to build a system where the most inexperienced person can function for 10 minutes,” Jacobs told the Courant. “We need to build a system where the first responding group has a clear plan of action and can execute it immediately within five to 10 minutes, because after that help will come.”

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Cracking the Code: FEMA Mulls Applying International Building Codes to the NFIP Management Criteria

When it comes to a simple, low-impact way to reduce flood damage (and subsequent payouts under the National Flood Insurance Program), incorporating international building codes into floodplain management criteria could provide a lot of bang for the buck.

That’s the conclusion drawn by a recent Federal Emergency Management Agency report and seconded by industry experts. The report looked at the feasibility and effectiveness of mandating the codes and determined that most communities could lower flood losses and insurance rates with little effort. Congress will ultimately decide whether to mandate the codes or not.

About 70 percent of communities now participating in the NFIP already stand by the codes, according to the report. For those that don’t, the long-term benefits would offset the relatively small investment involved in requiring them.

“Including widely used building codes in the NFIP would have an overall positive effect in reducing losses and creating improved regulatory and use practices,” the report stated.

Better protection for critical facilities, more stringent enforcement options, and better land use practices are among the improvements to be gained by requiring the codes. There could be an initial negative impact on land values and additional costs incurred by some homeowners, but over time that would become negligible, the report found.

Industry experts—many of whom have long bemoaned floodplain building, improper elevation, and the lack of statewide building codes—championed the report findings.

“We know that communities with strong, well enforced building codes fare better than those with weak or no codes when disasters strike,” said Julie Rochman, president of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, in a statement. “Property damage is reduced, home and business owners are able to recover faster, the local economy and tax base are maintained, and the amount of government disaster aid is decreased in communities that have adopted and enforced strong codes before catastrophes strike.”

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Disaster News Redux: Yarnell Hill Report Revisited

First Findings: A long-awaited Arizona State Forestry Division report released in September found no fault in the deaths of 19 firefighters who died in the Yarnell Hill fire in June.

The investigation, which examined why the Granite Mountain Hotshots team left the safety of an already burned area to attempt to reach an area nearly two miles away, found “no indication of negligence, reckless actions, or violations of policy or protocol.”

Communication with the team was lost about 30 minutes before they were overcome by flames, leaving many unanswered questions about why they chose to leave the burned area, known as the black.

The report stated: “Personnel who communicated with the Granite Mountain IHC knew the crew was in the black at that time and assumed they would stay there. No one realized the crew left the black and headed southeast, sometime after 16:04. At 16:30, thunderstorm outflows reached the southern perimeter of the fire. Winds increased substantially; the fire turned south and overran the Granite Mountain IHC at about 16:42.”

Second Look: A new report, prepared by independent consultants to the Arizona Division of Occupational Health and Safety, stands in sharp contrast to the earlier report. The new report, released on December 4, states that firefighters died because of “poor planning, bad communications, and ill-advised attempts to save structures and pastures that were “indefensible.”

The independent investigators found the Forestry Division was responsible for “multiple instances of firefighters being unnecessarily and unreasonably exposed to the deadly hazards of wildland firefighting.” The investigators also found that the Division failed to protect the firefighters from “recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” They also stated that the team running the operations was understaffed and lacked the cohesion necessary to adequately plan for the contingencies of the fire and changing weather, according to the New York Times.

“The ball got dropped. That’s what our understanding is,” Marshall Krotenberg of the Division of Occupational Health and Safety told the Times.

Not all of the blame can be put on the agency, however. The report also points out the hotshots crew violated standard orders, such as not requesting a lookout and moving without notifying supervisors. Those decisions could have been due to equipment failure or fatigue—the crew had worked 28 of the previous 30 days, according to Popular Mechanics.

Last Word? The safety commission has recommended the Forestry Division pay fines totaling $559,000, including $25,000 to be paid to the estate of each of the fallen firefighters, according to the Times. The State Forestry Division declined comment on the findings and on the proposed fines, stating that they needed time to review the report.

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Hiatus Again: DR Returns to Its Long Winter's Nap

Twas two weeks before Christmas and all through the house, creatures were bustling and too busy to keep up with e-mail and other reading. While that’s not as poetic as A Visit from St. Nicholas, it’s one of the reasons we put DR snug in its bed this time of year. So relax, enjoy the season, and know we’ll be one less thing to catch up on when you return.

Never fear though, we’ll be back to make a clatter with DR620 on January 9, 2014. Of course, if you need a little hazards in your holidays, you can always follow us on Twitter. Until then, to all a goodnight!

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

Call for Participation
2013 Colorado Flood Survey
Natural Hazards Center
Deadline: Open until filled

Natural Hazards Center researchers are requesting that survivors of the Colorado 2013 floods living in or near Boulder, Longmont, Lyons, or Estes Park participate in a survey on the impact of the floods on the well-being of community residents. Survey results will inform future disaster preparedness and recovery efforts. For more information on the research project and informational flyers, and to access the survey on line, please visit the Natural Hazards Center survey page.


Call for Nominations

Shah Family Innovation Prize
Earthquake Engineering Research Institute
Deadline: January 15, 2014

The Earthquake Engineering Research Institute is accepting nominations for the 2014 Shah Family Innovation Prize recognizing early-career professionals who show the potential to significantly improve the field of earthquake risk mitigation and management. Nominees must be 35 or younger and demonstrate the capacity to apply creative and innovative thinking to the challenges of reducing earthquake risk. Nominees who are dedicated to reducing the loss of life in quakes are especially favored. For full information on prize criteria and how to submit a nomination, please visit the nomination page on the EERI Web site.


Call for Abstracts
Large Wildland Fires Conference
International Association of Wildland Fires and the Association of Fire Ecology
Deadline: January 31, 2014
The International Association of Wildland Fires and the Association of Fire Ecology are accepting abstracts for presentation at their Large Wildland Fires conference to be held May 19-23 in Missoula, Montana. Oral presentation and poster abstracts related to large fires, fire management, climate change, wildland fuels, social and political issues, and fire behavior will be accepted. For more information on the conference and submission guidelines, visit the conference Web site.

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Some New Web Resources
When it comes to preparedness know-how, ‘tis better to give and receive. Luckily, there’s, a Web site all about helping preparedness professionals across the globe collaborate, share knowledge, and find solutions to common issues. The site, created by the American Red Cross and the International Federation of the Red Crescent’s Global Disaster Preparedness Center, features Wikipedia-style content development, resources in 16 different languages, and a wide variety of tools and research.


Global Carbon Atlas

It’s 8 p.m. Do you know where your global carbon footprint is? It’s easy to find out with the Global Carbon Atlas, a web resource that allows users to visualize the world’s carbon output in several ways: view emissions over time, by country or type, or by ranking. The up-to-date data can be presented and saved in various formats. Research resources and an educational outreach element make this site the perfect tool for finally getting a clear picture of the world’s emissions.


Social Media for Crisis Communications

When it comes to communicating during a crisis, emergency agencies can’t afford not to use social media. This collection of information from HowTo.Gov will help crisis communicators better leverage their online communities, recover quickly from social media gaffes, and avoid the pitfalls that might cause them in the first place. Based on a November Webinar, users can choose to learn more through a video presentation, transcript, or slideshow.


Post-Disaster Reunification of Children: A Nationwide Approach

Parents separated from the children in times of disaster will go to any length to be reunited, including ignoring orders to evacuate or shelter in place. But studies have shown parents familiar with caregiver emergency plans and reunification procedures are more likely to follow safety orders. This report aims to help government and community leaders focus on swift and reliable reunification so everyone stays safe. The document provides operational guidance, defines agency roles at many levels, and offers checklists and emergency planning templates.


Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises

As we learn more about the changing climate, we’ve seen that the expected impacts of human-caused warming aren’t as distant as scientists had previously thought. And in some cases the opposite is true, that some things that were considered imminent threats may not occur this century. This brief report by the National Academies of Sciences looks at what we know about abrupt changes in the climate system, identifies needed research, and recommends creating an abrupt-change, early-warning system to make sure we aren’t caught off guard. It’s an interesting read, but if you need a little more drama, you can check out what happened when Mother Jones applied the report findings to Hollywood blockbusters.

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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]

January 14, 2014
Disaster Spiritual Care Worker Training
National Disaster Interfaiths Network and Hartford Seminary
Hartford, Connecticut
Cost and Registration: $110, closes January 4

This event will provide training on spiritual and emotional care during disasters. Faith-based leaders, mental health professionals, and other emergency professionals will learn about the mental health effects of disasters, techniques for self care, and how to minimize stress during crisis. Topics include the emotional and spiritual phases of disasters, psychological response phases in disasters, indications for referrals, providing care in times of crisis, and community recovery and resilience strategies.


January 29-30, 2014
Symposium on Earthquake and Landslide Risk in Central Asia
European Commission FP7 Project
Bishekek, Kyrgyz Republic
Cost and Registration: $41, open until filled
This symposium will focus on developments in landslide and earthquake assessments with an emphasis on remote sensing, geospatial information, and case studies. Topics include monitoring post-event recovery, remote sensing technology, geospatial data management, disaster prediction and prevention, geosensing and infrastructure development, and the role of policymakers.


February 11-13, 2014
Business Continuity and Emergency Response Forum
Fleming Gulf
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Cost and Registration: $3,199, open until filled
This forum will address business continuity standards for disasters and crisis management strategies to develop emergency plans and disaster recovery goals. Topics include business continuity standards, cyberthreats, engaging senior management in business continuity implementation, applying the National Response Framework to business continuity practices, and assessing the status of emerging diseases.


February 13-16, 2014
Second World Congress on Disaster Management
World Congress on Disaster Management
Hyderabad, India
Cost and Registration: $250 before February 10, open until filled
This conference will examine global disasters with a focus on the environmental, social, technological, and economic risks related to geological, hydro-meteorological, mining, health, and infrastructure disasters. Topics include earthquake risk, early warnings, drought, tsunamis, oil spills, forest fires, women and children in disaster, urban sewage risk mitigation, indigenous disaster approaches, and the role of IT and communications in disaster management.


February 19, 2014
Advances in Extratropical Cyclone Understanding and Prediction
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency Center for Weather and Climate Prediction
College Park, Maryland
Cost and Registration: Free, open until filled
This colloquium will use the 35th anniversary of the 1979 President’s Day snowstorm in Washington, D.C. to examine the changes in prediction techniques and current and future challenges in predicting extra-tropical cyclones. Topics include prediction technology and systems, lessons from the storm, early detection and monitoring, and acknowledgement of those who contributed to the advancements of the last 35 years. Remote attendance options are also available.


March 20-21, 2014
ASIS Region 1D Conference: Critical Infrastructure Protection
American Society for Industrial Security
San Diego, California
Cost and Registration: $175 before December 13, open until filled
This conference will discuss the relationship between facility operations, emergency management, and security personnel to better prepare for disasters. Topics include innovative security practices, providing security in the face of budget restraints, infrastructure technology, emergency management implementation, and new security developments and regulations.

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Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Health Services Preparedness Specialist
Washington State Department of Health
Tumwater, Washington
Salary: $46,800 to $61,200
Deadline: December 15, 2013

This position helps prepare public health sectors and regional medical systems for public health and medical emergencies. Duties include preparing emergency plans, implementing strategies to increase medical, and assisting with emergency operations center activities and exercises. A bachelor’s degree in emergency preparedness or public health, two years of emergency management experience, and completion of National Incident Management System and Incident Command System training are required.


Deputy Director, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response

U.S. Department Of Health And Human Services
Washington, D.C.
Salary: $119,554 to $179,700
Deadline: December 17, 2013
This position coordinates with and supports the director of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in providing expert advice related to complex public health and medical emergency activities. Duties include oversight and coordination of the Office of Emergency Management, developing strategic directions for national health and security, providing health and medical expertise in national emergency assessments, and coordinating assets needed to augment state and local response. Experience as a senior decision maker, extensive knowledge of public health laws and regulations, and technical expertise in public health, emergency management, and medical practices are required.


Hazardous Materials Specialist

Virginia Department of Emergency Management
Prince William, Virginia
Salary: $55,300 to $84,100
Deadline: December 20, 2013
This position will provide guidance during hazardous materials emergencies and assist local governments and state agencies in conducting training on hazardous materials emergency response. Duties include entering hazardous areas to conduct assessments and gather information for mitigation, enhance local hazardous materials response, and creating a state hazardous material emergency response program. A bachelor’s degree in public safety, fire science, or physical science, as well as knowledge of hazardous materials training are required. Reference job number 0074922 when accessing job database.


Senior Emergency Services Coordinator

Alameda County Sheriff’s Office
San Leandro, California
Salary: $66,830 to $81,200
Deadline: December 23, 2013
This position will plan and manage the Alameda County emergency management and disaster preparedness program and direct staff in a disaster. Duties include coordinating staff and resources during an emergency, administrating the budget, analyzing emergency services data, and developing emergency preparedness program objectives. A degree in emergency services administration and two years of budget development experience in an emergency service and disaster preparedness program are required.


Emergency Management Planner

Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue
Woodbridge, Virginia
Salary: $53,100 to $89,200
Deadline: January 12, 2014
This position will perform a wide range of technical and administrative tasks, such as developing plans for public and county safety operations, bio-terrorism preparedness, and mitigation and response. Duties include managing federal and state grants, creating project management plans, coordinating emergency management planning activities, assisting with hospital preparedness, and serving as a back-up emergency coordinator in emergencies. A bachelor’s degree in emergency management, and five years of experience in grant management and emergency organizations are required.

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