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EDM Friday Briefing: A Significant Update to National EMS Standards

Emergency and disaster management briefing for December 3, 2021: The TSA issued a new directive to railroads that will require cybersecurity incidents to be reported within 24 hours; 700 of the 2,800 buildings on Grand Isle are slated for demolition; a new directive will allow rail carriers temporary, emergency access to other trackage in just 5 days; increased seismic activity has been observed on La Palma and an Ash Advisory was in effect for Friday; PG&E must pay $125 million in fines for starting the Kincaid Fire in 2019; a significant update to the National EMS Education Standards was just released; a suspicious package was discovered outside the Oroville Sports Club; and a CISA SED webinar will highlight DHS’ Blue Campaign and help participants learn to recognize indicators of human trafficking.

1. A new directive for railroads addressing cybersecurity was issued by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on December 2. The new directive takes effect December 31 and instructs all freight rail operators to report any cybersecurity incident within 24 hours. The new directive also requires railways to designate a cybersecurity coordinator, conduct a vulnerability assessment and develop an incident response plan. Similar directives were issued for both passenger rail and public transport operators and is meant to help protect the public and critical infrastructure.

2. Grand Isle, Louisiana, had a near-direct hit from Hurricane Ida and suffered catastrophic damage to its buildings and critical infrastructure. The Category 4 hurricane wiped out power and water lines, and destroyed or severely damaged 700 of the island’s 2,800 buildings that they must be demolished. Recovery continues and for those structures safely able to receive water and electricity, their services have been fully restored.

3. New rules for temporary trackage rights for railways experiencing an emergency go into effect on December 30. The new rules apply to specific, limited emergencies – such as severe weather – that may cause track outages and makes the process of using another carrier’s rail lines faster and more efficient. The new rules were adopted by the Surface Transportation Board (STB) and allow carriers to obtain temporary emergency access to another carrier’s trackage within five days after filing a verified notice of exemption.

4. Seismic activity has increased in recent days on La Palma in the Canary Islands. The eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano continues, and a total of 341 earthquakes were recorded over a 24-hour period earlier this week. Lava flows have consumed a total of more than 1,500 buildings and covered a total of over 2,800 acres of land. An Ash Advisory is in effect on Friday for an ash plume that has reached 7,000 feet or flight level 070. The ash is moving to the southwest at a speed of about 15 knots.

5. The Kincaid Fire consumed nearly 78,000 acres in Sonoma County, California. The blaze destroyed 374 structures, damaged another 60 and resulted in four people being injured. Findings by CalFire pointed to a faulty transmission line owned by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) as the culprit that started the fire. State regulators announced on Thursday that PG&E must pay $125 million in fines and penalties for its role in starting the worst wildfire in California in 2019.

6. A significant update to the National EMS Educational Standards was recently published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). To help EMS workers perform their roles effectively, these standards outline required competencies, clinical behaviors and judgements. These standards should not limit EMS education programs, nor do they replace the need for educational systems to develop a curriculum.

7. A suspicious package was left in the parking lot area of the Oroville Sports Club in Oroville, California, which prompted a response from the local bomb squad. Law enforcement taped off the area, and X-rays were taken of the package before police rendered the package safe. It is not known what was in the package before it was rendered safe.

8. Monthly webinars are conducted by the Stakeholder Engagement Division (SED) of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to help achieve a secure and resilient infrastructure for the nation. This month’s webinar addresses human trafficking and highlights the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign. As a national public awareness campaign, Blue Campaign seeks to educate the public, law enforcement and other industry partners to recognize human trafficking indicators, along with how to appropriately respond to potential incidents. The webinar, which will be held on December 16, will discuss the various tools and resources available from the Blue Campaign and will help participants recognize the indicators of human trafficking, including knowing when and how to respond. Registration for the webinar is required.

Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.

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