Identifying a Cost-Effective Aviation Fleet for the U.S. Forest Service
Source: RAND Corporation
Wildfires are dangerous and costly. They threaten population centers and wildlife habitats, degrade watersheds, and contribute to air pollution. At the same time, they are a natural part of the ecosystem in much of the American West. The cost of fighting these fires has risen dramatically over the past decade — to an average of $1.65 billion annually.
The U.S. Forest Service currently operates an aging fleet of contracted fixed-wing airtankers that provide aerial support for wildland firefighting. After two fatal crashes in 2002 led to more than half of the fleet being taken out of service, the Forest Service sought to replace its fleet with newer, safer aircraft. In support of this effort, the agency asked RAND to determine the composition of a fleet of airtankers, scoopers, and helicopters that would minimize the total social costs of wildfires, including the cost of large fires and aircraft costs.
IntroductionReviews of mass gathering events have traditionally concentrated on crowd variables that affect the level and type of medical care needed. Weather and environmental hazards at mass gathering events have not been fully researched. This review examines these events and aims to provide future suggestions for event organisers, medical resource planners, and emergency services, including local hospital emergency departments.MethodsA review was conducted using computerised data bases: MEDLINE, The Cochrane Library, HMIC and EMBASE, with Google used to widen the search beyond peer-reviewed publications, to identify grey literature. All peer-review literature articles found containing information pertaining to lessons identified from mass gathering disasters due to weather or environmental hazards leading to participant death, injury or illness were analysed and reviewed. Disasters occurring due to crowd variables were not included. These articles were read, analysed, abstracted and summarised.Results20 articles from literature search were found detailing mass gathering disasters relating directly to weather or environmental hazards from 1988 – 2011, with only 17 cases found within peer-review literature. Two events grey literature from 2011 are due to undergo further inquiry while one article reviews an event originally occurring in 1922. Analysis of cases were categorised in to heat and cold-related events, lightning and storms and disease outbreak.ConclusionsMass gathering events have an enormous potential to place a severe strain on the local health care system, Prior health resource and environmental planning for heat & cold-related illness, lightning & storms, and disease outbreak can advance emergency preparedness and response to potential disasters.
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
A statistical projection of traffic fatalities for the first quarter of 2012 shows that an estimated 7,630 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes. This represents a significant increase of about 13.5 percent as compared to the 6,720 fatalities that were projected to have occurred in the first quarter of 2011, as shown in Table 1. Preliminary data reported by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) shows that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the first three months of 2012 increased by about 9.7 billion miles, or about a 1.4-percent increase. Also shown in Table 1 are the fatality rates per 100 million VMT,by quarter. The fatality rate for the first three months of 2012 increased significantly to 1.10 fatalities per 100 million VMT, up from 0.98 fatalities per 100 million VMT in the first quarter of 2011.Previously, in 2011, fatalities are projected to have declined in all four quarters.If these projections for the first quarter of 2012 are realized, it will represent the second largest year-to-year quarterly increase in fatalities since NHTSA began recording traffic fatalities (1975). The largest recorded year-to-year quarterly increase by NHTSA was a 15.3-percent increase in fatalities during the first quarter of 1979.
The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) has completed a review of fire service operations surrounding the challenges faced in April 2011 as fire departments in the southeastern United States responded to a significant weather event.On April 27, 2011, a devastating series of tornados struck Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. The dollar loss has been roughly tallied at $6 billion in insured losses and a total of over $10 billion for all losses. An estimated 336 lives were lost in the region’s tornados and related events, with 239 of those in Alabama. At least 10,000 homes were heavily damaged or destroyed and dozens of public facilities were rendered inoperative. Many areas that were isolated by road closures and power outages extended over two weeks in some rural areas. At least five tornados were rated at EF5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF Scale).A series of meetings was held in the summer of 2011 to look at fire department and emergency medical services (EMS) organization activities in Alabama and Georgia during the tornados. Over 50 representatives of impacted departments attended and each had an opportunity to respond to specific questions as well as provide a free range of their own inputs.The report, Fire Service Operations for the Southeastern Tornados – April 2011 (PDF,1.5 Mb), condenses those meetings and inputs and provides an insight into the routines, challenges and needs of local fire and EMS agencies during preparation for, response to and recovery from, natural disasters. It serves as a benchmark to provide USFA an opportunity for evaluation to ensure we are providing the services that the first responder community requires for success, as well as to guide directions for future activities.
A New Paradigm for Small UAS
Source: Mitre Corporation
Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are different than almost any other kind of aircraft. They can fly in places where no manned aircraft flies or where it would not be desirable to fly. They also pose different risks based upon their small size and performance. Today, the FAA regulates all navigable airspace, which extends to the ground. Within this airspace, there are some areas in which manned aircraft are simply not capable of flying by existing Federal Regulations. This may include areas that are very close to the sides of buildings, under bridges, below tree cover, and near power cables. Our research envisions that small UAS might make use of this airspace, which would be considered non-navigable by traditional manned aircraft due to the proximity of obstacles. Additionally, a small UAS may weigh only ounces. An aircraft that small is likely to pose a vastly different risk to people and property on the ground than would manned aircraft. Considering usage of airspace and the associated risk in this manner represents a departure from current thinking and may influence the methods of regulating these new aircraft. This paper explores and discusses this potential new paradigm further, and illustrates the implications with a set of operational scenarios.
Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths in Metropolitan Areas — United States, 2009
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)
Although rates have declined in recent years, motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) remain a leading cause of injury death in the United States (1). In 2009, a total of 34,485 MVC deaths were reported among U.S. residents, and 22% of those who died were aged 15–24 years. MVCs were the leading cause of death for that age group, which represents approximately 14% of the total U.S. population (1). To assess patterns in MVC death rates for persons of all ages and for those aged 15–24 years, in recognition of the elevated risk for this age group, CDC used data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) and the U.S. Census Bureau for 2009 representing the 50 most populous U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). The overall MVC death rate (age-adjusted) for all 50 MSAs combined was 8.2 per 100,000 residents, compared with a national rate of 11.1; among MSAs, rates ranged from 4.4 to 17.8. For persons aged 15–24 years, the MVC death rate was 13.0 per 100,000 residents for all MSAs combined (range: 7.3–25.8), compared with a national rate of 17.3. Although rates for the MSAs generally were lower than the rate for the nation as a whole, higher rates for persons aged 15–24 years were observed both in the MSAs and nationally. The wide variation in rates among MSAs suggests a need to better understand how urban development patterns might relate to MVC deaths and to identify and implement effective strategies to reduce the number of such deaths.
Source: U.S. Fire Administration
The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) announced today the release of the report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2011. There were 83 onduty firefighter fatalities in the United States as a result of incidents that occurred in 2011. This represents a continuing decline in the overall number of firefighter fatality deaths in recent years and an almost five percent decrease from the 87 fatalities reported for 2010. When analyzing the overall trend in the United States going back to 1977, accounting for the Hometown Heroes added to totals since the law changed in 2004, the 2011 total represents the lowest year of record for the second year in a row.
The 83 fatalities occurred in 33 states, one U.S. territory, and one overseas U.S. military facility. Texas experienced the highest number of fatalities (7). North Carolina experienced six firefighter deaths and was the only other state with five or more firefighter fatalities.
Heart attacks were responsible for the deaths of 50 firefighters (60 percent) in 2011, nearly the same proportion of firefighter deaths from heart attack or stroke (63 percent) in 2010. Ten onduty firefighters died in association with wildland fires, the lowest number of annual firefighter deaths associated with wildland fires since 1996. Fifty-four percent of all firefighter fatalities occurred while performing emergency duties.
Four of the firefighters who died while responding to incidents in 2011 were killed by trauma caused by motor vehicle collisions, including three in privately-owned vehicles and one in a fire department apparatus.
Road Safety: The Roadworthiness Package – Tougher vehicle checks to save lives
Source: European Commission
From press release:
Vehicle checks are fundamental to road safety. More than 5 people die on Europe’s roads every day in accidents linked to technical failure. So today the European Commission has adopted new rules to toughen up the testing regime and widen its scope.
Technical defects contribute heavily to accidents. They are responsible for 6% of all car accidents, translating into 2,000 fatalities and many more injuries yearly. 8 % of all motorcycle accidents are linked to technical defects.
The main problem is that there are simply too many vehicles with technical defects on the road. Recent studies from the UK and Germany indicate that up to 10% of cars at any point in time have a defect that would cause them to fail the tests. Moreover, many technical defects with serious implications for safety (such as ABS and Electronic Stability Control) are not even checked under current rules.
Existing EU rules setting minimum standards for vehicle checks date back to 1977, with only minor updates. Cars, driver behaviour and technology have developed a lot since then.
Source: U.S. Fire Administration
The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), supported by the DHS Office of Health Affairs (OHA) and the National Emergency Medical Services Management Association (NEMSMA), announces the release of a new guide for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers: Operational Templates and Guidance for EMS Mass Care Incident Deployment (PDF, 1.5 Mb).
"This guide provides important information on preparing for events that can impact EMS preparedness and response in local departments," said U.S. Fire Administrator Ernest Mitchell. "The model policies and practices referenced in the guide will lead to a better prepared EMS deployment to mass care incidents."
The guide is intended to provide information to local-level EMS and fire departments on the development and enhancement of the organization and preparedness for mass care incidents, including natural and man-made disasters, large gathering and pandemic events, and other emergencies potentially resulting in large numbers of patients.
Source: Transportation Research Board
There are considerable environmental and public health benefits if people choose to walk, bicycle, or ride transit, instead of drive. Threats posed by possible criminal activity in a person’s home neighborhood can play a major role in their decision to drive, take transit, walk or ride a bicycle, even over short distances. The findings of Phase 2 of this research suggest that walking and bicycling trips–often shorter distance trips than auto or transit trips–are particularly sensitive to neighborhood crime levels. Transit trips, on the other hand, appear to respond to neighborhood crime levels in a similar way to auto trips, wherein high crime neighborhoods appear to encourage transit mode choice. However, follow-up analysis performed for Phase 2 found that (though based on a small sample size) transit access trips (walking, bicycling or driving to a transit station) are sensitive to neighborhood crimes as well, wherein high crime neighborhoods discourage walking and bicycling transit access trips and encourage driving.
Improving the Public’s Awareness and Reporting of Suspicious Activity : Key Research Findings from Literature Review, Household Surveys, Focus Groups and Interviews
Improving the Public’s Awareness and Reporting of Suspicious Activity : Key Research Findings from Literature Review, Household Surveys, Focus Groups and Interviews (PDF)
Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency (via International Association of Chiefs of Police)
The results of this research add new insights into the motivators and barriers of why individuals do or do not report suspicious activity, as well as the technology and resources that can be used to help encourage suspicious activity reporting. With this information, law enforcement and community partners can better develop and adapt strategies to improve community outreach and education efforts that enhance the public’s awareness and reporting of suspicious activity.
Based on data and insights from this research, IACP and FEMA created A Resource Guide to Improve Your Community’s Awareness and Reporting of Suspicious Activity: For Law Enforcement and Community Partners. The resource guide offers recommendations for local outreach campaigns, explains how to effectively develop and disseminate messages in order to help the public better understand their role in reporting suspicious activity, and helps law enforcement agencies and community partners to understand, navigate, and use the many resources available to help build and sustain local initiatives. A copy of the resource guide can be downloaded from www.theiacp.org or www.ready.gov/terrorism.
Community members have long been one of law enforcement’s best sources of information on what is out of place or suspicious in their communities. Through effective motivation and education, community members can become even more active partners with law enforcement, ultimately keeping our communities stronger and safer from the threats of terrorism.
Climate change and disruptions to global fire activity
Future disruptions to fire activity will threaten ecosystems and human well-being throughout the world, yet there are few fire projections at global scales and almost none from a broad range of global climate models (GCMs). Here we integrate global fire datasets and environmental covariates to build spatial statistical models of fire probability at a 0.5° resolution and examine environmental controls on fire activity. Fire models are driven by climate norms from 16 GCMs (A2 emissions scenario) to assess the magnitude and direction of change over two time periods, 2010–2039 and 2070–2099. From the ensemble results, we identify areas of consensus for increases or decreases in fire activity, as well as areas where GCMs disagree. Although certain biomes are sensitive to constraints on biomass productivity and others to atmospheric conditions promoting combustion, substantial and rapid shifts are projected for future fire activity across vast portions of the globe. In the near term, the most consistent increases in fire activity occur in biomes with already somewhat warm climates; decreases are less pronounced and concentrated primarily in a few tropical and subtropical biomes. However, models do not agree on the direction of near-term changes across more than 50% of terrestrial lands, highlighting major uncertainties in the next few decades. By the end of the century, the magnitude and the agreement in direction of change are projected to increase substantially. Most far-term model agreement on increasing fire probabilities (62%) occurs at mid- to high-latitudes, while agreement on decreasing probabilities (20%) is mainly in the tropics. Although our global models demonstrate that long-term environmental norms are very successful at capturing chronic fire probability patterns, future work is necessary to assess how much more explanatory power would be added through interannual variation in climate variables. This study provides a first examination of global disruptions to fire activity using an empirically based statistical framework and a multi-model ensemble of GCM projections, an important step toward assessing fire-related vulnerabilities to humans and the ecosystems upon which they depend.
Resilient communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural and man-made disasters. RAND has implemented and evaluated community resilience-building activities worldwide and identified opportunities to integrate governments with the nonprofit and for-profit sectors in public health and emergency preparedness, infrastructure protection, and development of economic recovery programs.
Wildfire Damages to Homes and Resources: Understanding Causes and Reducing Losses (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of North Texas Digital Library)
Wildfires are getting more severe, with more acres and houses burned and more people at risk. This results from excess biomass in the forests, due to past logging and grazing and a century of fire suppression, combined with an expanding wild land-urban interface-more people and houses in and near the forests-and climate change, exacerbating drought and insect and disease problems. This report looks at the causes of wildfires, and the pros and cons of their treatment.
Reallocating Justice Resources: A Review of 2011 State Sentencing Trends (PDF)
Source: Vera Institute of Justice
Most states are facing budget crises, and criminal justice agencies are not exempt. With fewer dollars available, they are challenged to increase public safety while coping with smaller budgets. This report distills lessons from 14 states that passed research-driven sentencing and corrections reform in 2011 and is based on interviews with stakeholders and experts, and the experience of technical assistance staff at the Vera Institute of Justice. It is intended to serve as a guide to policy makers and others interested in pursuing evidence-based justice reform in their jurisdiction.
Legislatures throughout the United States enacted sentencing and corrections policy changes in 2011 that were based on data analysis of their prison populations and the growing body of research on practices that can reduce recidivism. Although this emphasis on using evidence to inform practice is not new in criminal justice, legislators are increasingly relying on this science to guide the use of taxpayer dollars more effectively to improve public safety outcomes.
In highlighting important legislative changes enacted in the past year, this report documents a new approach to reform in which bipartisan, multidisciplinary policy groups are using analysis of state population and sentencing data, harnessing the political will emerging from the budget crisis, relying on decades of criminal justice research, and reaching out to key constituencies. The result is legislation that aims to make more targeted use of incarceration and to reinvest the cost savings into community programs geared toward reducing recidivism and victimization.
See also: State of Sentencing 2011: Developments in Policy and Practice (PDF)
CRS — Chemical Regulation in the European Union: Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals
Chemical Regulation in the European Union: Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Open CRS)
On June 1, 2007, the European Union (EU) began to implement a new law governing chemicals in EU commerce: Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). It is intended to protect human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals while at the same time protecting the competitiveness of European industry. REACH evolved over eight years and reflects compromises reached among EU stakeholders. The final regulation reduces and coordinates EU regulatory requirements for chemicals new to the EU market and increases collection of such information for chemicals already in the EU market, thus potentially removing disincentives to innovation that existed under the former law. It also shifts responsibility for safety assessments from government to industry and encourages substitution of less toxic for more toxic chemicals in various chemical applications. Some U.S. chemical industry representatives believe that REACH is “impractical,” in part due to the large number of chemicals and difficulties of identifying end uses of chemicals in many products. In contrast, some public-interest groups are urging U.S. legislators to adopt a similar legislative approach.
In Brief: Clarifying the Concept of “Partnership” in National Security (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
Over the last few years, the term “partnership” has spread like wildfire through official U.S. national security guidance documents and rhetoric. At the Department of Defense (DOD), which spearheaded the proliferation of the term, “partnership” has been used to refer to a broad array of civilian as well as military activities in support of national security. At other U.S. government agencies, and at the White House, the use of the term “partnership” has been echoed and applied even more broadly–not only in the national security arena, but also to all facets of U.S. relationships with foreign partners.
“Partnership” is not new in either theory or practice. To illustrate, U.S. strategy during the Cold War called for working with formal allies, through combined planning and the development of interoperable capabilities, in order to deter and if necessary defeat a Soviet threat. And it called for working with partners in the developing world to cultivate the allegiance of states and societies to the West, and to bolster their resistance to Soviet influence. Congress provided oversight in the forms of policy direction; resources and authorities for programs ranging from weapons sales to combined military exercises to cultural exchanges; and accountability.
New in recent years is both the profusion of the use of the term partnership and–in the aftermath of both the Cold War and the first post-9/11 decade–a much less singular focus for U.S. global engagement. Recent defense and national strategic guidance clearly conveys the view that partnership is good. But as a rule, it provides much less sense of what partnership is designed to achieve and how that protects U.S. interests; it does not clearly indicate how to prioritize among partnership activities; it does not assign specific roles and responsibilities for partnership across the U.S. government; and it does not indicate how to judge whether partnership is working.
The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), supported by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Health Affairs (OHA), and in partnership with the International Fire Services Training Association (IFSTA), announce the revision and release of Funding Alternatives for Emergency Medical and Fire Services (PDF, 3.7 Mb). The latest edition provides the most up to date information regarding funding for local level Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and fire departments. The document includes sources of federal funding as well as other new and innovative funding sources not discussed in previous editions.“Adequate funding is one of the most challenging issues facing EMS and fire departments today,” said U.S. Fire Administrator Ernest Mitchell. “This document provides valuable information for local-level departments facing financial challenges.”A key part of the project initiative was an enhanced study of critical funding issues for both fire and non-fire service based EMS systems.
+ Full Document (PDF)