Texas Emergency Management ONLINE2014 Vol. 61 No. 2

Texas Emergency Management Briefs, Tips and Links

7th Annual EMAT Symposium
February 23 – 26, 2014 • Embassy Suites & Convention Center • San Marcos, TX
1001 E. McCarty Lane | San Marcos, TX 78666 | 512-392-6450

7th Annual EMAT Symposium

This symposium will bring together emergency management professionals and stakeholders from around the State of Texas to share information and learn about best practices, new methodologies, and programs in the emergency management and homeland security fields.

It is the intent of the conference that participants gain additional knowledge that will help them in improving and enhancing their emergency operations as they relate to all hazards mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

Exciting opportunities we have planned include:

  • Welcome Mixer
  • President's Reception
  • General Membership Meeting
  • Membership Appreciation Banquet

Take Advantage of Early On-line Registration! Sign up Now!

2014 Texas Emergency Management Conference

Texas Emergency Management Conference

Please save the date for the 2014 Texas Emergency Management Conference!

Date:

Monday, May 12 – Thursday, May 15, 2014

Location:

Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center
San Antonio, Texas

Registration:

Registration to open early this year.

Cost:

$150

Hotels:

List of San Antonio Riverwalk hotels that are offering courtesy block at government rates.

Speakers:

TDEM is currently accepting applications for conference presentations. Please review further information at 2014 TEMC Call for Presentations. Deadline is January 31, 2014.

Exhibitors:

Please contact Scott Sutherland at (512) 424-7197 for more information.

If you have any questions, please email us.


FEMA expands disaster crowdsourcing
By Mark Rockwell
Dec 18, 2013

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is expanding its wireless crowdsourcing disaster-recovery information services with an application that lets users pinpoint damage using their smart phone's GPS.

Smartphones

The new feature, set to be unveiled by BAE Systems and Eye Street Solutions Inc. on Dec. 17, is an add-on to FEMA’s official mobile app aimed at enhancing situational awareness for citizens, first responders, emergency managers and recovery teams during or following a disaster.

The app's new Disaster Reporter feature allows users to upload photos and report incident information from their smartphones – making good on announcement FEMA made last summer promising an app that would allow users to upload photos of hard-hit areas.

BAE said the new add-on allows reports and photos uploaded via cell phone to be pinpointed on an interactive map, using the GPS technology in users' smartphones. The feature was developed alongside FEMA's Digital Engagement team, BAE said in a statement.

Tracking the sprawling damage done by major s a difficult challenge for emergency responders and community relief volunteers. Crowdsourcing gives FEMA the ability to quickly provide real-time images and intelligence to the people who need it to make decisions on when and where to deploy resources, BAE officials said.

The Disaster Reporter feature is available for the Android and iOS versions of the FEMA app.

NIST tornado reports urge new safety standards
by Michael E. Newman

NIST tornado reports

Nationally accepted standards for building design and construction, public shelters and emergency communications can significantly reduce deaths and the steep economic costs of property damage caused by tornadoes. That is the key conclusion of a 2-year technical investigation by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) into the impacts of the May 22, 2011, tornado that struck Joplin, Mo. Recommendations for achieving these standards are featured in a draft report issued for public comment on Nov. 21, 2013, and are strongly supported by a second NIST report released today that documents impacts observed following the May 20, 2013, tornado in the Newcastle-Moore area of Oklahoma.

The NIST Joplin study was the first to scientifically assess the impact of a tornado in four major categories: tornado characteristics, building performance, human behavior and emergency communication—and the impact of each on life-safety, the ability to protect people from injury or death. It also is the first to recommend that standards and model codes be developed and adopted for designing buildings to better resist tornadoes.

In the majority of buildings studied in Joplin, the research team found that regardless of construction type, the structures did not adequately protect occupants and that Joplin residents had limited access to underground or tornado-resistant shelters. In addition, multiple factors contributed to a delayed or incomplete response by Joplin residents in the tornado's path, including lack of awareness of the tornado's approach, confusion about or distrust of the emergency messages prior to the tornado's arrival, and an inability to perceive risk due to the conflicting information.

The Oklahoma study found that the storm in Newcastle and Moore inflicted an extensive level of damage and destruction to buildings and designated safe areas on par with that seen in Joplin. In both cases, areas designated as safe areas did not adequately protect occupants and essential facilities (such as hospitals) did not remain operational. The dramatically similar findings, the researchers say, demonstrate the need for nationally accepted standards against tornadoes.

The massive tornado in Joplin was rated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s National Weather Service (NWS) as category EF 5, the most powerful on the Enhanced Fujita scale. The multiple-vortex storm destroyed some 8,000 structures in its path and killed 161 people. It was the single deadliest tornado in the United States in the 63 years that official records have been kept.

The Newcastle-Moore, Okla., storm also was rated EF 5. It damaged or destroyed nearly 2,400 structures and killed 24, including seven children who died when the elementary school classroom building in which they took shelter collapsed.

Based on findings from the Joplin investigation, NIST developed 16 recommendations for improving how buildings and shelters are designed, constructed and maintained in tornado-prone regions; and for improving the emergency communications that warn of imminent threat from tornadoes. All of these recommendations are backed by what the team observed in Oklahoma.

The key recommendation proposed in the Joplin report is "the development and adoption of nationally accepted performance-based standards for the tornado-resistant design of buildings and infrastructure to ensure the resiliency of communities to tornado hazards." This includes a call for designing and constructing essential buildings—such as hospitals and emergency operations centers—and infrastructure to remain operational in the event of a tornado.

Following the public comment period on the draft Joplin study, NIST will issue a final report and then work with the appropriate code development organizations to use the study's recommendations to improve model building codes and lay the foundation for nationally accepted standards. NIST also will work with organizations representing state and local governments—including building officials—to encourage them to seriously consider implementing its recommendations.

Comments on the draft Joplin report and recommendations must be received by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. Comments may be submitted via email to disaster@nist.gov or mailed to NIST Technical Investigation Joplin, 100 Bureau Dr., Stop 8611, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-8611.

Explore further: New study shows tornadoes tend toward higher elevations and cause greater damage moving uphill

More information: NIST NCSTAR 3 (Draft for Public Comment), Technical Investigation of the May 22, 2011, Tornado in Joplin, Missouri, and NIST SP 1164, Preliminary Reconnaissance of the May 20, 2013, Newcastle-Moore Tornado in Oklahoma, are both available at Disaster and Failure Studies.

Provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology
NIST tornado reports urge new safety standards

XLiquid crystal sensing badges monitor hazard exposure
4 hours ago by Renee Meiller

XLiquid crystal sensing badges monitor hazard exposure

In 1999, researchers in New York City identified the first case of West Nile virus, which over the next five years spread across the country. Infected mosquitoes transmit the virus into reptiles, amphibians, and some mammals—including humans—and into more than 100 species of birds, which "host" the virus.

At the time, identifying the disease in dead birds was cumbersome and time-consuming because existing tools required a different diagnostic reagent to detect antibodies in each species. "We developed a way to use liquid crystal to report antibodies to West Nile virus in a way that was species-agnostic," says John T. and Magdalen L. Sobota Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Nicholas Abbott, who with Christopher Murphy and Barbara Israel (then both faculty in the School of Veterinary Medicine), co-founded Platypus Technologies in 2000 to commercialize the technology.

Liquid crystals, which are materials that combine properties of solids and liquid, are known to change their ordering and optical appearance in response to stimuli such as temperature or electrical fields. As a result, they are useful in everything from cell phone displays to environmental sensors.

Over the past 13 years, the Platypus founders have developed a variety of liquid crystal-based technologies for protein and cell-based studies and environmental monitoring. In August 2013, the company debuted a wearable sensing badge that allows, for example, workers in an oil refinery to accurately monitor their exposure to hydrogen sulfide in real time. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates worker exposure to the chemical, which is a highly toxic, flammable gas—and currently, hydrogen sulfide samples gathered in the workplace are analyzed days later in a laboratory.

The badge is somewhat like a detector worn by radiological workers. "A worker can read it at the end of a shift," says Abbott.

Explore further: Bird vaccine for West Nile Virus

Provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison

Liquid crystal sensing badges monitor hazard exposure


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