Rescue crews practiced emergency plans for a mass casualty explosion at CNU.
NEWPORT NEWS — Rescue personnel spent three hours practicing an emergency response to a simulated gas leak and explosion at Christopher Newport University on Tuesday morning.
The exercise allowed Newport News to test established regional emergency plans in the event of a mass casualty incident that would require coordination with outside agencies and local hospitals, said Newport News Fire Chief Scott Liebold. This year, crews arrived on campus to discover a simulated gas explosion at Forbes Hall killed and injured students who had been protesting on the lawn outside. The working personnel do not know the planned scenario beforehand.
Rescue teams triaged 150 explosion victims where 12 died and 53 were in serious condition, said Tammy Waldroup, director of the university’s emergency management. About 100 were live volunteers with makeup-applied wounds, including from Bethel and Bruton high schools, and about 50 were dummies.
Those first arriving on scene called for more help from Newport News crews and Hampton, Williamsburg and York County. They also called in the Hampton Roads Metropolitan Medical Strike Team of doctors, nurses and medics who plan to help when large numbers of people are injured, Liebold said.
Riverside Regional Medical Center staff became the “air traffic controllers” for where to send patients in the region for treatment as to not overwhelm hospitals, the fire chief said. One mass casualty bus with 18 pretend critical victims arrived to Riverside so staff there could get practice removing patients from the bus, added.
CNU tested its outdoor siren and sent test alerts via text message, email and landline phones, Waldroup said. Both CNU and Riverside tested their family reunification systems that identify where specific students are sent.
Supervisors watched how crews responded and will create an improvement plan to identify both strengths and deficiencies, Liebold said. For instance, one group didn’t use the same radio channels coming in.
Planning for the exercise that garnered 300 participants, including victim volunteers and the university president’s staff, began nine months ago with input from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Waldroup said. The annual operation is required for higher education institutions by executive order, Waldroup said. CNU also hosts a discussion among agencies about how best to plan for mass casualty incidents every year.
“I think it’s important we look at the ‘what ifs’ that can happen in today’s society so we have those response plans in place to better protect our communities,” Waldroup said.
“Preparing for 21st Century Risks: Revitalizing American Manufacturing to Protect, Respond and Recover”
Alliance for American Manufacturing released their study on America’s manufacturing sector’s ability to prevent, mitigate, respond to, recover from, and rebuild after a catastrophic event – whether it is man-made or a natural disaster. Throughout the report, it is emphasized that our national and economic security interests are heavily situated in our manufacturing and critical infrastructure sector. The study stresses that if it is not faced, the manufacturing sector’s vulnerability may very well affect our national and economic security. The global population is expected to be 7.9 billion, mostly in developing countries. A growth rate that well exceeds the ability of many countries to upgrade and expand capacity of existing infrastructure. By 2025, 75% of U.S. residents are expected to live on the country’s coasts, impacting the infrastructure around wetlands, healthcare, housing, transportation and insurance costs associated with tropical storms and hurricanes. Another concern that threatens the U.S. and its interests in the manufacturing and critical infrastructure arena is the lethality of high-tech capabilities. t to which a growing number of nation-state and non-state actors have access and use them to either create opportunities for attacks or carry out non-traditional terrorist and cyber attacks. In order to revitalize our manufacturing sector’s critical infrastructure capacity, Governor Tom Ridge and Col. (Ret.) Robert Stephan, CRA’s Executive Vice President, make several strong recommendations, including the development of a comprehensive national vision and strategy and promoting awareness for a stronger domestic manufacturing sector as a national security component.
Below is a review from AmericanManufacturing.org
The United States is at risk of being dangerously unprepared for serious emergencies because of the offshoring of critical manufacturing sectors and a reliance on foreign suppliers for products needed in the wake of catastrophic events. According to a groundbreaking report released today by the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), the U.S. must revitalize its manufacturing capacity to reduce such vulnerability.
The report was co-authored by Gov. Tom Ridge, the first secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Col. Robert B. Stephan (USAF Retired), a former Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security for Infrastructure Protection.
“There is a direct nexus between a strong domestic manufacturing sector and America’s ability to prevent, mitigate, recover from, and rebuild quickly in the wake of catastrophic events,” said Ridge. “Revitalizing America’s domestic manufacturing capacity must become a clear and urgent national priority at all levels of government and among industry leaders.”
The report illustrates the growing frequency of major catastrophic events, man-made and natural, as well as new threats like cyber attacks and pandemics. It contains specific recommendations for restoring the nation’s internal capacity to address emergencies, including revitalized manufacturing, investment in America’s infrastructure using U.S.-made materials, strengthened public-private collaboration, and enforcement of trade laws.
The United States now relies on foreign suppliers for everything from steel, cement, batteries, and critical high-technology components to every day medical supplies such as antibiotics and penicillin. The resultant risks include not having access to needed materials and products, delayed delivery times, and the poor quality of some imported products. These problems are becoming more noteworthy given the fragility of the nation’s aging infrastructure.
The report is the first comprehensive analysis of America’s growing reliance on global suppliers – many of whom may not have the best interests of the United States at heart in a time of crisis, or those who cannot meet demand quickly in times of emergency, given the complexity of the global supply chain.
“Relying on a potentially hostile trading partner in a time of need puts our national security at risk,” the report states. “There are also many important vulnerabilities associated with the structural fragility of our infrastructure nodes and systems, many of which are at or near the end of their projected operational life spans and in need of a thorough overhaul.”
China, for example, produced five times the amount of steel that U.S. companies did in 2008, and Chinese cement was used in construction on half of American home foundations prior to the recent recession. Today, no U.S. plant produces the key ingredients for antibiotics, making the nation more vulnerable to pandemics and bioterrorism attacks.
“The nation’s worn out infrastructure is the soft underbelly that provides an inviting target for attacks that can have a widespread, devastating impact,” said Stephan. “Hardening our critical infrastructure is key to preventing and mitigating disastrous events such as terrorist attacks or natural disasters concerning power plants, pipelines, and transportation systems.”
The report recommends taking a two-track approach to reduce vulnerabilities and to build the capacity to respond and recover quickly and efficiently in the aftermath of a catastrophic disaster. Some recommendations include:
- Develop a plan to make the restoration of a strong American manufacturing sector a key component of both national and economic security strategies.
- Reinvest in America’s infrastructure, using U.S.-made materials.
- Incentivize the revitalization of American manufacturing, including the use of domestic-content preferences that maximize the power of federal procurement funds.
- Enforce trade laws to ensure a level playing field for U.S manufacturers and their workers facing unfair competition.
- Invest in the American workforce to ensure we have the trained workers needed to rebuild our infrastructure and work in a larger, more modern manufacturing sector.
“Reliable domestic supply chains could help mitigate the risk associated with our current over reliance on long-lead-time offshore supplies and suppliers regarding those products and materials critical to supporting response and recovery requirements,” the report asserts.
Ridge and Stephan say that revitalizing American manufacturing must be a “clear and urgent national priority since we are losing manufacturing capacity with each passing day.” They add that the “21st Century risk environment poses perhaps the most significant set of challenges we have yet had to face.”
“This report should serve as a wake-up call for action,” said Scott Paul, the Executive Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), which commissioned the report. “We must take concrete steps now to insource our preparedness capabilities.”
Adds Paul, “Unfortunately, not enough has changed since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and even since Hurricane Katrina seven years ago. Tragically, we’ve seen a further decline in America’s manufacturing capacity, even while new risks are emerging. This report underscores just how critical it is to the safety of the American people to rebuild our industrial base now.”
Paul concludes, “We may not be able to predict when catastrophic events will occur, but we can do much to ensure that America is equipped to prepare for, respond to, and minimize the impact when disaster strikes.”
For the full report, please click here: http://americanmanufacturing.org/files/Homeland%20Security%20Report.July23.2012.pdf
About CRA, Inc.Formed in 1984, CRA is a professional services and consulting firm providing expert guidance and offering robust assessment, policy, planning, training, intelligence and exercise support to a wide range of clients, including Federal, State, and local governments and agencies, the U.S. military, and the private sector.
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