April 30, 2009 By Jim McKay, Editor
In late March, heavy rains and above-freezing temperatures contributed to the Red River's flooding in Fargo, N.D. The river crested at 40.82 feet on March 28, breaking its 112-year-old record of 40.1 feet. According to CNN, the river is usually around 14 feet deep during that time of the year and it's considered to be flooded when it reaches 18 feet deep.
Emergency crews erected dikes when the water level reached 30 feet, and HESCO Concertainers - 4x3x15-foot cubes made of fabric and filled with sand - to protect structures. Citizens turned out in droves to fill sandbags beginning on March 23, and it was estimated that 3.5 million sandbags were filled throughout the emergency.
Although there was not a citywide evacuation, authorities evacuated vulnerable populations, like the elderly, and people living near retaining dikes were asked to leave voluntarilyCDW-G Launches Mass Notification Web Site
CDW Government launched its Mass Notification Toolkit, a Web site that provides practical guidance on implementation, marketing and sign-up challenges associated with the deployment of mass notification systems.
The Mass Notification Toolkit builds on CDW-G's 2008 study This Is a Test - This Is Only a Test: Updating America's Emergency Alert Infrastructure. That study found that one-third of U.S. residents have no knowledge of or experience with their local emergency notification program. The study also identified a deep divide between how Americans communicate and how local governments disseminate information.
Though the number of wireless subscribers in America is at an all-time high and 1 billion text messages are sent by citizens daily, local governments still relay information largely via television and radio, which requires electricity that might not be available during an emergency.
The new Web site, www.cdwg.com/massnotification, provides guidelines on establishing an effective mass notification system such as:
o who must be involved in system development;
o what a mass notification system IT infrastructure looks like;
o how to craft effective mass notification messages; and
o how to increase constituent participation in mass notification systems.
FEMA's Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) offers a hands-on, three-day course that addresses the effects of chemical and biological agents, including radiation and explosive injuries.
The Weapons of Mass Destruction Emergency Medical Services (EMS) course is one of several courses that relate to health care and emergency response and is pertinent to emergency medical technicians, paramedics, emergency room nurses, medical emergency planners and law enforcement officers.
"Anytime a medical responder - or any responder with medical skills - initiates contact with a potential casualty in the field, they place themselves at the mercy of a terrorist or accidental hazardous environment," said EMS course manager John Skinner. "The fact that hazardous situations can be harmful if responded to improperly, which makes responders the victims, is important."
In April, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International extended its training arm to help secure King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), being built as an international, graduate-level research university dedicated to inspiring a new age of scientific achievement in the Kingdom.
APCO will provide an all-inclusive training program for communications personnel in the university's new communications center. The training began in April and continues for three months. The program will be conducted by APCO Institute Adjunct Instructor Mark Boudreaux, director of Terrebonne 911 District in Louisiana. KAUST will staff a 20-person communication center and use all APCO training programs and software.
"The ultimate goal is to respect the rights and protect the safety of all students, staff, residents and visitors of their campus," said APCO International President Chris Fischer in a press release. "We are happy to support this effort by ensuring KAUST communications personnel are fully trained, self-sufficient and prepared to successfully handle fire, EMS or police-related emergency calls.
The campus occupies almost 14 square miles on the Red Sea and sits approximately 50 miles north of Saudi Arabia's second largest city, Jeddah.
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