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EDM Friday Briefing: Roadway Emergency Ops No. 1 Risk for Responders

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for February 19, 2021: Officials issue an all clear after a bomb threat evacuated the Azusa Pacific University campuses; a winter storm dropped heavy snow across parts of the Middle East that rarely see snow; officials stated that all sources of power were compromised in the recent winter storms in Texas; a new timeline report of the 2018 Camp Fire offers nine recommendations to improve responses and first responder safety; a gas explosion in the Bronx injured six children and three adults; Mount Etna has erupted for a second time in less than 30 hours; a new report states roadway emergency operations are the number one traumatic risk for first responders; a newly released ransomware fact sheet is meant to boost awareness, address current threats, and encourages public and private agency preparedness.

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1. A bomb threat prompted the evacuation of all campuses of the Azusa Pacific University, Thursday evening. Officials noted that campus security personnel had received emails that were specific in identifying the placement of explosives on the campus. Students in residence at the main campus were initially told to shelter-in-place, but were later evacuated. Officials gave the all clear at around 10:40 p.m.

2. Heavy snowfall and gale-force winds swept through countries in the Middle East on Wednesday. Parts of Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria that rarely see snowstorms were blanketed in snow. The rare snowfall caused road closures that disrupted traffic, while high winds and heavy snowfall knocked out power across Lebanon.

3. Officials in Texas stated that all sources of power were compromised in the recent polar vortex that brought frigid temperatures, ice, sleet and snow to the state. The frigid temperatures froze power generating equipment, including wind turbines and solar panels, interrupting power to over 4 million people across the state. Reportedly, power has now been restored to the majority of customers; however, nearly 192,800 customers are still without electricity.

4. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released a timeline report of the deadly 2018 Camp Fire in California. The information was gathered from a variety of sources, including 911 calls, radio logs, drone and satellite images, dashboard and body cams, social media, and emergency responder interviews. In light of their findings, NIST offered nine recommendations to help improve responses and personnel safety.

5. Two children were listed in critical condition after a reported gas explosion in the Bronx borough of New York City. A total of six children and three adults were injured in the blast, which blew a door across the street and into power lines. The apartment complex has been deemed structurally safe, despite the extensive and severe damage caused by the blast.

6. Italy’s Mount Etna erupted twice within 30 hours, with the latest eruption spewing lava over 1,600 feet in the air. The lava fountain lasted for at least an hour, with lava flows pouring down several sides of the cone. Volcanic ash reached altitudes of 30,000 feet, and covered the nearby territory of Pedara in ash and lapillus — volcanic fragments (magma and rocks).

7. The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) noted that a new report identified roadway emergency operations as a leading cause of line-of-duty-deaths. Training and education — both for first responders and the public — are the key to reducing roadway incident deaths. Resources addressing the risks and identifying best practices are available at, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the United States Fire Administration (USFA).

8. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force (NCIJTF) issued a new ransomware fact sheet to address cyberthreats impacting local law enforcement, firefighters, and other emergency response agencies. The fact sheet is meant to increase awareness of  ransomware threats, highlight current threats, and offers suggested best practices to keep systems safe. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has also launched its “Reduce the Risk of Ransomware” campaign, encouraging both the public and private sectors to ensure they are equipped with the appropriate tools and resources to protect their organizations from cyber attacks.


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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