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emergency response

Diving for Port Security

February 20, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The Long Beach Police Department dive team adopts new homeland security equipment.

The Long Beach, California, police department dive team is now using a newly acquired search and recovery system to help protect the local port, shipping lanes and critical infrastructure.

The Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) dive team has an atypical and varied mission along the port and in the city waterways. “We have the law enforcement responsibility as well as the homeland security mission, mostly dealing with the Port of Long Beach and protecting the port against any type of terrorist threat or action,” says Sgt. Steve Smock, LBPD dive team supervisor. “Everything that the police do on land, we do underwater.”

The mission can include body recovery after a shipping accident or searching for underwater mines attached to ships or piers. The LBPD works with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to search for and confiscate narcotics or other contraband being smuggled into the country. Additionally, the port is a potential terrorist target for several reasons, including the shipping lanes and some of the cargo coming into port.

“We have all these different wharfs and piers that these ships come up to and tie to. A good example is the oil exchange terminals where the oil container ships come in and offload their oil. These are, for obvious reasons, very sensitive. We do a lot to make sure that nobody gets in there to tamper with anything,” the sergeant states.

The Future of 
First Responder

February 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

Public safety personnel are standing at the beginning of a new era in communications as plans unfurl to create a nationwide broadband network dedicated to their needs. With many questions yet to be resolved, organizations must contend with making the right choices for today even as they prepare to take advantage of advanced future offerings.

The Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network will be based on a single, national network architecture and is intended to help police, firefighters, emergency medical service professionals and other public safety officials perform their jobs better. The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an independent authority under the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), will hold the spectrum license for the network along with responsibility to build, deploy and operate it, in consultation with federal, state, tribal and local public safety entities and other key stakeholders. “The burden is on FirstNet to bring public safety a robust and rich network that meets responders’ needs, and this must be done in a manner that’s very cost effective,” says Sam Ginn, chairman of the FirstNet Board. “That’s our goal and mission, and we intend to succeed for public safety.”

Military Tracks Earthquake-Related Radiation Contamination

December 6, 2012
By Max Cacas

To monitor the possible effects of radiation on Americans who were in Japan during the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the U.S. Army Public Health Command has launched the Operation Tomodachi Registry website. The site provides location-based radiation dose estimates for the approximately 70,000 department-affiliated adults and children who were in one of 13 mainland Japan locations at the time of the disaster, which included the release of radiation into the environment. It will serve as a public clearinghouse for information on the U.S. Defense Department's response to the crisis in which U.S. troops assisted their Japanese counterparts in relief efforts. The Operation Tomodachi website will be used to build a model for future exposure registries that could be used to manage a range of other events or activities where the potential for environmental exposure to harmful chemical or biological agents is possible. It will be managed as part of the Defense Occupational and Environmental Health Readiness System. Names, locations and radiation exposure information for service members, civilian contractors, employees and their family members is contained in a secure database.


Power Grid Study Cites “Inherent Vulnerability” to Terrorist Attack, Natural Disaster

November 29, 2012
By Max Cacas

A newly released study on America’s electrical power transmission system strongly suggests that the government and industry take steps to safeguard it from shortcomings that make it vulnerable to things such as terrorist attack and acts of nature. Potential solutions will require not only ingenuity and technology, but investment and political decisiveness.

A Regional Imbalance Confronts a Strategic Rebalance in the Pacific

November 14, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

The new strategic emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region poses a new set of challenges for the U.S. military, ranging from cyberspace attacks to missile defense in a large-scale conflict. Meeting these challenges will require a new approach to coalition building as well as a shift in technology procurement. And, the relationship among the United States, China and their neighbors will weigh heavily on all efforts for regional security. 

Many of these points were discussed on the first day of TechNet Asia-Pacific 2012, being held in Honolulu, Hawaii, November 13-15. Titled “Rebalancing Toward the Asia-Pacific—Challenges and Opportunities,” the conference began with a direct focus on the key issues that define those challenges.



Emergency Response Tops Priority List for U.S. Pacific Command

November 13, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

Most of the Pacific Command’s mission will focus on aiding others in need rather than warfighting efforts.


Medicine Joins Disaster Response

August 2012
By Rita Boland, SIGNAL Magazine

Sharing medical information among public and private entities during emergency situations is entering a new age. A consortium of partners has laid the foundation for a national center that will develop protocols and methodology necessary to enhance current capabilities for handling crisis situations.

Solar Storms Test Earthbound Preparedness

August 2012
By Max Cacas, SIGNAL Magazine

A predicted increase in the number and intensity of solar storms is forecast for 2013, and solar weather experts are advising both the public and private sector to make preparations.

Many Jurisdictions, Many Challenges, Many Solutions

March 1, 2012
By Maryann Lawlor

The National Capital Region, comprising Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland, is one of the busiest, most powerful and hence most complicated areas in the United States when it comes to security. Cathy Lanier, chief of police, District of Columbia, and James F. Schwartz, chief, Arlington County Fire Department, Virginia, emphasized that cooperation and coordination are essential no matter the size of the municipality or the threats it faces.

Guard Ready for Emergencies

August 2008
By Rita Boland

Hurricanes here, manmade trouble there, disasters, disasters everywhere. Between Mother Nature running amok and human-borne disasters, Florida has its share of dangerous incidents. Fortunately, the state is putting new measures in place to protect its citizens, and sharing them with other states. A cutting-edge communications system has been developed to fill gaps in current capabilities and offer new resources to emergency responders, and it is ready to take on whatever the rest of 2008 (and beyond) decides to dish up.


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