AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Monday Briefing: POINTER Increases First Responder Safety

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Image courtesy of Andrew Gaines on Unsplash

Emergency and disaster management briefing for October 4, 2021: New location-tracking technology for emergency responders in the built environment is scheduled for soft release in early 2022; a Volunteer Firefighter International article is reportedly a good resource for FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant application writing; CISA is hosting its online National Cybersecurity Summit in October; the NHC is monitoring a surface trough over the Bahamas and near Florida for any potential development; solar panels helping to power the 100MW of solar capacity in the U.S. were made in Chinese factories using coal-powered energy; the eruption at the Kilauea volcano continues as the lava lake level rises more than 89 feet; Nordex halts 19 turbines after an almost complete collapse of a similar new turbine in Germany; and the HVO is carefully monitoring Mauna Loa after an uptick in seismic activity was observed.

1. New location-tracking technology for emergency responders in the built environment is scheduled for a soft release in early 2022. The built environment includes dense materials such as wood, concrete, and rebar, and the new Precision Outdoor and Indoor Navigation and Tracking for Emergency Responders (POINTER) technology penetrates these materials using a low-frequency magnetic field. According to reports, the POINTER technology is now the size of a cell phone, only weighs several ounces, and can pinpoint the location of a disoriented/fallen firefighter or other first responder within centimeters. It is also able to determine if the first responder is standing, sitting or lying down.

2. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant application period from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) opens in the fall and closes one month later. Preparing for upcoming firefighting grants is a daunting task to some, and Volunteer Firefighter International produced a useful article to assist fire departments. The article outlines essential information critical for fire departments to know so they are able to submit a winning grant application, including having concise and accurate numbers for department statistics, and focusing on outcomes – rather than needs – in the narrative portion of the grant.

3. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is hosting its fourth annual National Cybersecurity Summit in October. The summit will be held in a series of online sessions that are meant to bring together government, private-sector and international partners in order to improve collective cyber defense. The online summit series begins on October 6 and includes one session on Wednesday of each week. The summit is open to anyone, although registration is required.

4. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is keeping an eye on a surface trough located over the southeastern Bahamas, next to Florida. According to the NHC, the system currently has just a 10% chance of developing over the next five days. However, it is currently producing a large area of disorganized showers and cloudiness. Any development of the system is forecast to be slow, with its gradual drifting toward the northwest through the end of the week.

5. The U.S. now has more than 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity installed nationwide, which produces enough electricity to power 18.9 million homes. Solar power is often touted as being green energy; however, the majority of our nation’s solar panels are imported from China. Panels made in China are produced with energy from coal-burning plants, which are allegedly well-known for their high emissions of CO2 (carbon dioxide).

6. The eruption of the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii continues, as lava flows from multiple vents in the Halema’uma’u crater. The Hawaii Volcano Observatory (HVO) noted that the summit lava lake increased 3.3 feet from Saturday to Sunday, with a total lava lake level rise of 89 feet since it began erupting again last Wednesday. The west vent continues to have the largest volume of lava flow, with lava fountaining anywhere from 33 to 49 feet.

7. After the collapse of a massive wind turbine last week in Germany, Nordex has suspended operation of 19 additional units with similar configurations. According to the company, the turbine that collapsed was at the 9MW Haltern AV9 wind farm located near Essen. Reports indicate that the turbine suffered an almost complete collapse, with the tower shearing off and the nacelle and rotor blades falling to the ground.

8. The Hawaii Volcano Observatory (HVO) is carefully monitoring Mauna Loa as increased seismic activity has been detected beneath the volcano. At least 69 small earthquakes – all below 3.0 magnitude – were recorded by seismometers last week, either beneath the summit or the upper elevation flanks of the volcano, and the activity continues. Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, the Alert Level for the volcano currently sits at ADVISORY with the Aviation Color Code at YELLOW. Although there has been an uptick in seismic activity, the volcano is not erupting.

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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