Homeland Security Guidance Issued for Responder Anthrax Exposure
Because their duties place them at increased risk in the event of an aerosolized Bacillus anthracis spore attack, the Department of Homeland Security has issued guidance to educate first responders on actions they can take to minimize exposure.
“Guidance for Protecting Responders’ Health During the First Week Following a Wide-Area Aerosol Anthrax Attack,” published in September, presents a scenario of a large-scale anthrax release in a major U.S. city and the immediate post-attack environment. The document outlines actions responders can take to minimize their exposure in contaminated areas, such as the use of drugs and vaccines, as well as personal protective equipment and decontamination. The DHS guidance is based on a federal interagency working group effort focused on a specific scenario of a small-particle aerosol generated by spraying from a crop plane that could expose hundreds of thousands of people in hundreds of square miles.
The guidance is here.
FCC Takes Steps to Protect 911 Call Centers
Consistent with the requirements of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, the Federal Communications Commission took action in October to protect 911 call centers from unsolicited marketing calls, or recorded “robocalls,” which can tie up phone lines during an emergency.
The Do-Not-Call registry that the agency created aims to protect call centers against hundreds or even thousands of unwanted robocalls each day. Among the punishments for violations are monetary penalties, which could cost $100,000 per incident.
For more information, visit fcc.gov/document/fcc-adopts-rules-protect-emergency-service-providers-robocalls.
Responders’ Cancer Illnesses Eligible for Treatment
Responders who were active at the 9/11 terrorist sites in New York City, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pa., and who are now fighting numerous cancers, became eligible in October for federal government-funded medical monitoring and treatment previously denied them. The Final Rule was issued by the World Trade Center Health Program administrator and published in the Federal Register on Sept.12; corrections were published Oct. 12.
The original Final Rule is at federalregister.gov/a/2012-22304. Corrections are at federalregister.gov/a/2012-25142.
New Applied Research Classes Available at National Fire Academy
The U.S. Fire Administration has introduced two new online courses through its National Fire Academy on aspects of effective applied research. “Data Gathering Instruments to Support Applied Research Projects” and “Designing an Applied Research Project Proposal” are available to the public and also support Executive Fire Officer Program (EFOP) students in completion of Applied Research Projects (ARPs). The EFOP requires the completion of an ARP following each EFOP course in the four-year program.
Data Gathering Instruments provides information on the use of questionnaires and interview processes or surveys and guidance on when to choose such an instrument based on the questions the author seeks to answer. Designing an Applied Proposal explores the relationships between the problem and purpose statements, the research questions and the most appropriate research method to follow as a tool to enable the author to assemble information regarding the research being considered.
The National Fire Academy currently offers 54 online courses, with topics including emergency medical services, emergency response to terrorism and wildland firefighting. Students can access the online classes at nfaonline.dhs.gov.
Narrowbanding Deadline Approaching
As of Jan. 1, 2013, public safety and business industrial land mobile radio systems operating in the 150–512 MHz radio bands must cease operating with 25 kHz technology and switch to operating at least at 12.5 kHz efficiency technology, a move called narrowbanding. While the requirement also applies to the 470–512 MHz band, known as the T-Band, in April the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) waived the deadline for their conversion for an indeterminate amount of time.
This deadline marks the end of an almost two-decade effort by the FCC to create additional spectrum access for public safety and non-public safety users by allowing additional channel capacity within the same radio spectrum. Many public safety users are unhappy with the move because funding for new equipment needed to make the change has disappeared.
Additional information is at transition.fcc.gov/pshs/public-safety-spectrum/narrowbanding-faq.html.