Saturday, December 31, 2011

Preparing for Tsunamis in the U.S.

After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) added to its tsunami sensors so they now ring most of the Pacific Ocean. As a result, Hawaii was warned about the recent Japan tsunami 7 hours before it reached them.

Sensors are also in the Atlantic. It's highly unlikely one will happen there -- but one possible scenario could dwarf what happened in Japan.

Friday, October 21, 2011

CAPSHIELD 12 - Day 2

Today we spent hours scouring semi-collapsed buildings looking for survivors, and hauled out seven people on stretchers -- which we then carried 100 yards. As one of 4 litter bearers, my share of the weight was 40-50 lbs for each. It wasn't that bad, but I was exhausted by the end.

We'd found every body in every building, and transported all the survivors... but then they told us to do an eighth, just for show, because VIPs were watching. This one was from decon: 200 yards, mostly uphill. Ugh.

Finally, we wrapped for the day, had some pizza, and went home to nurse our own injuries.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

CAPSHIELD 12 - Day 1

Soldiers sat around the clearing, some having a smoke, others trying to catch a few winks. The lonely sound of a harmonica floated in the breeze. "Hmm hmm hmm hmm-hmm-hmm, hmm hmm hmmm-hmm-hmmm" ("Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam...") They weren't in uniform; add a campfire and they could be cowpokes.

Except for the simulated blood, lacerations, embedded glass fragments, and impalements. Also, the Old West ambience was spoiled by the guy entertaining us with Chewbacca noises before going back to typing on his phone.

War is hell.

They told us the scenario: a Cat 3 hurricane hit, leaving downed trees and power lines, etc. "That's it?" I thought. "So we open some shelters. Big deal."

But wait, there's more. "There are protesters... (damn occupy-Wall-Streeters!) AND terrorists attacks, with both shootings and bombings. The terrorists post a viral video threatening more." (Not a tape like Osama bin Laden; a YouTube video that lots of people share. To which my reaction, of course, was "what, no Twitter?")

The Montgomery County CERT (including DisasterMan) jumped into action. It was the annual CAPSHIELD exercise, practicing with the military to respond to mass casualty incidents. Once again, photographer Matt Laur got some great shots.

More at: CAPSHIELD - Day 2

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Live-Blogging Hurricane Irene

I'm managing a Red Cross shelter, mainly for people whose power was knocked out by the storm. We have 12 senior citizens and 3 kids.

Dinner was courtesy of the Dept. of Corrections. Only the best for us: bologna & cheese on white bread. Anyone vegetarian, allergic, or keeping kosher? Let them eat cake! (Or cookies, in this case, the only other thing they sent.)

They're providing breakfast too. At least I can get something from the snack & soda machines. Oh, wait: can't have those, schoolkids need to eat healthy! (D'oh!)

When I was their age, the school sold us jelly donuts, and we turned out OK.

Sort of.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Virginia 2011 Earthquake

Today, I felt a vibration in my apartment. At first I thought it was a fan, then I realized it was an earthquake. Cool! We never get those around here -- except one last year. Oddly, that one centered in Gaithersburg, MD, where there is no fault. This one, however, happened in central Virginia, an area known to be seismically active.

Last year's was only 3.6 on the Richter scale, barely enough to be felt. (I slept through it.) This one was a 5.8, and could be felt as far away as New York. It was the worst in Virgina in a century.

As it happens, I participated in a risk assessment of a Virginia shore site a few years ago that concluded:

Saturday, May 7, 2011

BWI Airport Emergency Exercise

No mass casualty incident (MCI) exercises in more than six months! Don't want to get rusty. Fortunately, BWI airport had one on May 7th.

After five of these, you can tell what's good and what's not so good. Good: Their moulage (simulated wound) artists were excellent. They worked without rubber prosthetics, and didn't just smudge on some powder. See the photo gallery for examples.

Not so good: I've never seen an MCI exercise with less of a rush to treat and transport. One firefighter broke into a trot, and another said, "Joe*, it's not that big a deal." Um... really? It will be when the real thing happens, so it might be good to practice that.

[* Not his real name.]

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Danger in the Loo

Osama Bin Laden Toilet Paper
Sometimes the headline says it all:

'Suspicious' Toilet Paper Discovery Forces Plane's Evacuation

Update (5/2): Bin Laden's dead, so we can "drop the kids off at the pool" in safety.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

Dramatic tsunami during-and-after photos [The Atlantic]

Slideshow of satellite before-and-after photos [Picasa]

Video of the earthquake happening - views from streets and inside various buildings [Russia Today]

Aerial view of tsunami approaching the shore, bulldozing Sendai, and spreading across farmland. [Russia Today] [AP] [BBC]

Friday, January 28, 2011

You think this is bad? When I was your age...

DC finally got significant snow -- but only about 6", a far cry from last year's "Snowmageddon." Still, we can show the pictures below to our grandkids and say, "when I was your age, we had to walk 10 miles to school, uphill both ways, backwards, through 50 feet of snow... and we liked it!"

Click to enlarge. More pictures after the jump.