Preparing for the Worst: Helping First Responders Stay on Top
When it comes to a domestic emergency or crisis, first responders are the first line of defense. They face extraordinary odds daily and are often the critical link between life and death. To execute their mission successfully entails more than dedication and commitment; it also requires the use of sophisticated technologies and equipment that can provide a competitive edge in perilous situations.
How does the Defense Department help in this effort and what is its role? The Department of Defense (DoD), Domestic Preparedness Support Initiative (DPSI) Office coordinates with first responders at the Federal, State, and local level to identify capability gaps and bring awareness to DoD’s excess property and “dual-use” technology. To perform this mission, the DPSI office works closely with the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and non-government organizations to identify first responder equipment and technology gaps, and then looks within DoD for viable solutions. This multifaceted effort requires extensive communications between various Federal agencies at multiple levels in order to effectively support America’s first responders who are devoted to “Protect and Serve” the homeland.
DPSI also works with experts within the Federal government as well as private industry that are contractually developing technologies for DoD which may also be beneficial to first responders. To this end, DPSI works to help accelerate product development in order to meet the needs of first responders more efficiently. However, to find emerging technologies that offer sound solutions to meet first responder mission gaps requires lots of hard work and due diligence on the part of DPSI and key stakeholders; thus careful coordination under trusted partnerships must be established in order to achieve program objectives. One such example of the process was conducted with a company called AlpaTRAC Inc.
Through a DoD research and development contract, AlphaTRAC designed a web-based training platform called AlphaACT to meet HAZMAT requirements. Because the training modules have “dual-use application” within the firefighting community, DPSI also teamed up with AlphaTRAC to help accelerate the development of the program. AlphaTRAC then went on to develop training modules for the firefighting community.
The goal of the AlphaACT Fire system is to significantly improve firefighter safety by teaching how to effectively apply the experiences and lessons learned of the past to current crisis situations. What makes the program significant is that it integrates the collective experiences and lessons learned of the community through programs like the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC’s) National Near Miss, to effectively turn lessons learned into lessons applied. AlphaACT FIRE not only allows firefighters to leverage historical incidents, it teaches them the most effective process to take in identifying and applying those past cases when making decisions in crisis environments.
The new system also helps to maintain continuity of knowledge. Experience is being lost at alarming rates within the fire community, as the baby boomer generation retires and the upcoming generations have fewer fire calls upon which to build their experience base. AlphaACT FIRE, in conjunction XCapture Technology, an experience sharing system, is bridging that experience gap in innovative ways by combining experience and process to revolutionize decision-making training. The AlphaACT applications currently available include AlphaACT FIRE, focused on residential fire emergencies and AlphaACT HAZMAT, focused on hazardous material emergencies (including malicious and accidental events). As for military use, the AlphaACT technology is built on a core platform that is designed to teach effective decision-making in a variety of crisis environments. The training application could focus on critical decision-making during combat patrols, teaching the end user to quickly gain situational awareness and identify potential outcomes using historical examples.
Aside from the ongoing efforts with the AlphaACT program, DPSI continues to aggressively work with DoD organizations to identify other breakthrough technologies that are viable for first responders, and also with DHS, Customs and Border Protection on DoD technologies that can help strengthen U.S. border protection. DPSI is committed to “building partnership capacity” to bridge capability gaps within the first responder community, as well as promote the advancement and commercialization of DoD technologies that enhance the mission of firefighters, law enforcement, and emergency medical personnel.
When it comes to emergencies, being surprised is rarely a good thing. Having a prepared, trained, and well-equipped team of first responders could literally mean life or death for them and for the people being helped.
We can never fully predict or prevent emergencies, but with technological innovation and collaboration, we can lessen the blow. And that could make all the difference.
Information provided by: Domestic Preparedness Support Initiative (DPSI) office
Safe, Fast-Acting, Battlefield-Deployed Decontaminant Now Available to State and Local First Receivers
As First Receivers across the nation train and prepare to respond to potential terrorist attacks, they can now add an effective decontamination tool against Chemical Warfare (CW) agents and T2 toxin to the protective equipment they wear and carry when responding to emergencies. RSDecon, a business of Bracco Diagnostics, Inc., offers a proven, safe, fast-acting and easy-to-use form of protection against all known CW agents with its RSDL product.
RSDL is a broad-spectrum liquid CW agent decontaminant that removes and neutralizes CW agents and T2 toxin from skin within two minutes. In the past, RSDL could only be purchased and deployed by military organizations, but it is now available to First Responders and First Receivers such as fire departments, law enforcement agencies, emergency medical services and healthcare facilities worldwide.
The lotion is standard equipment carried by head-of-state protection agencies in both the U. S. and abroad, as well as major U. S. police and fire departments, including the New York City Fire Department (FDNY). It has been formally tested and proven effective by both the Department of Defense (DoD) and multiple NATO military organizations, and is deployed by troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has been demonstrated to be safe and effective as a skin decontaminate and has been cleared by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In addition to helping neutralize CW agents and T2 toxin on First Receivers’ gear and skin, it also helps ensure they can return to their duties quickly when they are needed most: in the first phase of an incident or attack. Unlike water or powder-based technologies, which can smear or spread the CW agent, RSDL decontaminates or removes the contaminant from the skin. In the case of large-scale contamination, RSDL can be applied, by first receivers to themselves and then victims while they are awaiting other procedures or transportation, reducing the danger to them and helping reduce the spread of contaminants from an incident.
RSDL’s single-step application provides the ease of use necessary when time is of the essence. Once the CW agent is decontaminated, RSDL leaves a non-toxic residue that can be easily rinsed off when operational conditions permit.