Kimberly Arsenault


Emergency and disaster management briefing highlights for March 18, 2022: Firefighter Safety Stand Down focuses on first responder situational awareness; the NTSB is investigating a crash that killed nine people in West Texas; authorities believe foggy conditions led to a 47-vehicle pileup that killed six people in Missouri; a recent software update is available for the ERDSS (Chemical Companion) for chemical incidents; the EPA recently added Bradford Island to its Superfund list; a Talking TIM webinar in March will focus on first responder safety while managing traffic during an incident; NIST released a new Quick Start Guide for its Cybersecurity Framework Profile; and as severe weather season approaches, is a valuable resource to ensure local and individual preparedness.

1. The Firefighter Safety Stand Down theme for 2022 is “Situational Awareness: The Foundation of Good Decision Making.” The key to remaining safe when responding to incidents is to have situational awareness. The awareness campaign runs from June 19-25. Each day will feature a focus area, including structure fires, EMS, wildland incidents, roadway response and acts of violence. In an effort to focus on these topics, departments are asked to suspend all non-emergency activities and devote time to these educational topics related to first responder health and safety.

2. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating a crash that killed nine people in West Texas. According to reports, a 13-year-old was driving the truck that crashed head-on into a van carrying a college golf team and their coach. The coach, along with six members of the team, were killed when the vehicles collided and burst into flames.

3. Foggy conditions may have led to a 47-vehicle pileup in Missouri that killed six people. The incident occurred on Thursday, and authorities believe someone may have suddenly hit the brakes, leading to a chain reaction crash. The crash, which included multiple collisions and fires, closed I-57 in both directions. Reportedly, authorities noted that when they arrived on scene, visibility was reduced to about 50 feet due to heavy fog.

4. In the event of a chemical incident, first responders often use the software application Emergency Response Decision Support System (ERDSS), also referred to as Chemical Companion. A recent software update includes new chemical threats, new chemical detectors and updated detector data in a searchable database. Web-based, remote delivery on in-person training is available through Hazard3, the developers of the program, which is offered free for use for all military, law enforcement and fire departments.

5. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently added Bradford Island to its Superfund list. The island, part of the Bonneville Dam owned by the federal government, is situated in the Columbia River. The island received toxic waste dumps of cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) for over 40 years by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

6. Traffic Incident Management (TIM) is a key element when ensuring first responder safety. A Talking TIM webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, March 23, to address initiatives relative to responder safety. The initiatives focus on tethered unmanned drones in use by North Carolina, the use of safety vests, and outreach collaboration to support responder safety in conjunction with the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the Towing and Recovery Association of America (TRAA).

7. The emergency services sector is increasingly at risk for cyberattacks, along with all critical infrastructure sectors. Recently, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a Quick Start Guide to help agencies get started addressing the increased risk. The new guide, “Getting Started with Cybersecurity Risk Management: Ransomware,” provides guidance on how to use the new Ransomware Risk Management: A Cybersecurity Framework Profile (Ransomware Profile) released by NIST.

8. Springtime is often the season that produces severe and potentially life-threatening weather. This weather is produced when warm, moist air mixes with colder air masses, which can cause turbulence. These weather conditions create the potential for severe and often dangerous thunderstorms, which can produce tornadoes, straight-line winds, and hail. is a resource available to families across the nation to ensure preparedness. Tools available include templates for creating a plan that address individual, family, and household needs based on area hazards, including severe weather. It is important to be sure area risks and hazards are known, or reach out to the local emergency management office for assistance or to sign up for emergency alerts.