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EDM Wednesday Briefing: New Technology Detects Electrical Utility Issues Before Disasters Can Occur

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for December 4, 2019: Disaster officials in the Philippines credit mandatory evacuations and preparedness efforts for a low death toll from Typhoon Kammuri; a recall has been issued for ready-to-eat sushi, salads, and spring rolls due to possible Listeria contamination; a new report issued by California state regulators cited PG&E with violating safety rules which led to the deadly Camp Fire in 2018; the CDC confirmed 16 cases of hepatitis A and its spread to Wisconsin; the LAPD is set to test a new Batman-like device meant to detain people from over 20 feet away; New Jersey confirms more than 140 cases of Candida auris, a drug-resistant fungal infection; a school officer and a student were injured after the student stabbed the officer in a confrontation at a Wisconsin school; and new technology detects issues with electrical utilities and could help prevent disasters.

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1) Flights were cancelled and events for the Southeast Asian Games were disrupted when Typhoon Kammuri hit the Philippines on Monday–the 20th storm to hit the island nation this year. Disaster officials are crediting mandatory evacuations and preparedness for the low death toll from Typhoon Kammuri. Ten deaths are being attributed to the storm, which also [link url=”″ title=”downed trees and power lines, damaged roads and at least eight bridges, and tore off roofs”].

2) Ready-to-eat sushi, salads, and spring rolls produced by Fuji Food Products have been [link url=”” title=”recalled due to potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes”]. The product was sold at multiple retailers, including Trader Joe’s, Food Lion, and Giant Eagle Supermarkets, across 31 states. A routine inspection conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed the [link url=”” title=”contamination at the Brockton, Massachusetts facility”].

3) State regulators issued a new report that [link url=”” title=”cites Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) with violating 12 state safety rules”], which resulted in faulty equipment sparking the deadly Camp Fire in 2018. Specifically, the report identifies where the company neglected to conduct a climbing inspection on an aging tower where a worn hook broke and helped ignite the wildfire. In May, [link url=”” title=”a CalFire investigation determined that faulty PG&E equipment ignited two wildfires in Paradise, with the first one overtaking the other, resulting in the Camp Fire”]–the state’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire ever to occur.

4) The hepatitis A outbreak from tainted berries has now [link url=”″ title=”spread to another state”]. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that there are now 16 confirmed cases of hepatitis A, including seven in Nebraska, with the remaining cases spread between Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, and now, Wisconsin. A recall of [link url=”” title=”blackberries sold in Fresh Thyme markets”] has been linked to the 16 cases across six states.

5) A new device is set to be tested by the Los Angeles Police Department, a Batman-like tether tool that allegedly can detain a person from up to 25 feet away. The device, [link url=”” title=”the BolaWrap 100, emits a gunfire-type noise when it fires a Kevlar cord that wraps around a persons legs or torso from up to 25 feet away”]. Deputies with the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office are among those law enforcement officers who have adopted the new technology.

6) There are more than [link url=”” title=”140 confirmed cases of Candida auris in New Jersey, a fungus that can cause serious infections–and is often drug-resistant”]. There are another 22 probable cases, and the [link url=”” title=”Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that one in three patients that contract the invasive C. auris infection die”]. There are a total of 806 cases nationwide, and the CDC has stated that the fungus, which can colonize, especially in nursing homes and hospitals, is a serious global health threat.

7) [link url=”” title=”A student confronted a school officer in Wisconsin and stabbed him with a knife, then the officer shot the student”]. Both the officer and the student were injured and transported to a local hospital where they were listed in stable condition. The confrontation occurred at the [link url=”″ title=”Oshkosh West High School in Winnebago County”], and it was the second incident of a similar nature to occur in just two days at schools about 80 miles apart.

8) New technology developed by an electrical engineering professor at Texas A&M might help prevent wildfires–and save lives. The new tool, [link url=”” title=”the Distribution Fault Anticipation, detects variations in electrical currents–caused by deteriorating conditions or equipment”]–then notifies utility operators.  The new technology anticipates issues in the early stages, allowing utilities to send crews to fix the problem before a disaster–such as an electrocution, power outage, or wildfire–occurs.


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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