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EDM Monday Briefing: Smart911 Data May Help Save Lives

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for November 1, 2021: Subtropical storm Wanda snags the final name of the 2021 hurricane season; 17 people were injured on an express train in Japan; volcanic lightning observed as the eruption continues on La Palma; four brands of bagged salads produced by Dole were recalled for potential listeria contamination; American Airlines cancelled more than 1,400 flights, citing a lack of crew availability; Austria records its largest-ever wildfire burning southwest of Vienna; new GAO report cites lack of information in improved FEMA flood maps; and technological advances have paved the way for improved data availability through Smart911 systems that can help save first responder lives.

1. A subtropical storm is moving to the southeast over the open Atlantic Ocean. Named Wanda, the system was given the final name of the 2021 hurricane list, with the end of the season still being nearly a month away. The storm poses no threat to the mainland United States, and any additional named storms will be from a new list produced by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), with the first name being Adria.

2. A man on an express train in Japan pulled a knife, stabbed one passenger and then set fire to the train. A total of 17 people were injured, including three who were severely injured in the incident. The 24-year-old male suspect was quickly arrested by police, and service on the Keio line remained suspended overnight.

3. The volcano on La Palma in the Canary Islands continues to erupt, with more material fragmenting into ash, as evidenced in the explosive vent behavior. Along with the explosive behavior, an increase in volcanic lightning has been observed. Although the phenomenon is not yet well understood, the more violent the eruptions, the more friction and turbulence occur, which creates electrical charges that result in lightning.

4. Bagged salads are being recalled due to their potential contamination with listeria monocytogenes. Dole Fresh Vegetables has recalled several lots and brands of its bagged salad mix. The products were distributed in 10 states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia. Dole, Marketside, Kroger, and Salad Classics are the four brands named in the recall, and consumers are being advised to discard the items.

5. American Airlines cancelled over 1,400 flights over the weekend, including a total of 820 mainline flights on Sunday. According to reports, weather played a small part in some cancellations, as high wind gusts on Thursday disrupted travel from the airline’s Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport hub. Staffing shortages were cited by airline officials as the main reason for the continued cancellations, including a lack of available pilots and flight attendants.

6. A major wildfire burning in lower Austria, about 38 miles southwest of Vienna, has been dubbed Austria’s largest-ever wildfire. The fire, which began on October 25, quickly grew to 247 acres, and over 500 helpers were called in to fight the blaze. As of Friday, October 29, firefighters held the blaze at about 284 acres with the help of air tankers from Italy and helicopters from Germany, Italy, and Slovakia.

7. Flooding is listed as the costliest natural disaster in the United States annually. According to a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) flood maps lack information on current flood hazards. The GAO also noted that although FEMA has improved its flood risk products, including flood maps, it has not assessed the usefulness of its developed Risk MAP program plan and any of its impact on community resiliency since 2016.

8. Technological advances have paved the way for improved data availability through Smart911 systems. Suffolk County, New York, is employing Rave Mobile Safety Smart911 technology, which allows subscribers to develop profiles in its system. The profiles allow the use of code words by enrollees, including victims of domestic abuse, who are then able to submit their code words to indicate they are in trouble and need help. The system also allows family members to develop profiles for those with mental health issues, and this information can be pushed to first responders to protect them and provide them with information that may de-escalate a situation.

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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