Emergency Preparedness | St. Louis Public Radio

Emergency Preparedness

Anthrax vaccine doses ready to be given to emergency responders are stored at Washington University.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

Emergency responders in St. Louis are among the first to receive the anthrax vaccine as part of a federal program to inoculate local personnel.

Health officials from Washington University and local health departments have begun giving the vaccine to first responders who volunteer as part of a federal program testing the distribution of the shots to emergency personnel.

Anthrax is a disease contracted when a person consumes or inhales deadly spores of anthrax bacteria. When modified to a powdered form in a lab, anthrax can be distributed through the air by terrorists.

technology computer upgrade
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is getting a chance to test how smart sensors can help city departments respond better to emergencies.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has spent more than a year developing ways that cities can use a network of smart devices. Now, a pilot program with the city will allow DHS to test the plans in real life.

Bob Gale speaks into a radio Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016 at the St. Louis County Emergency Operations Center. He's been involved with ham radio for 40 years.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

If a major disaster were to strike the St. Louis area, odds are the St. Louis County Emergency Operations Center near Ballwin would be swarming with personnel.

On Saturday, a handful of ham radio operators reported to the center to practice their role in an emergency: getting the word out.

Public health emergencies can range from weather-related emergencies to disease outbreaks to civil unrest.
Robert Boston | Washington University

The St. Louis region faces a wide range of potential public health crises, including natural disasters like tornados and floods, infectious disease epidemics and civil unrest.

Our ability to respond to such emergencies will be the focus of a conference on Thursday hosted annually by Washington University’s Institute for Public Health.

First responders throughout St. Charles County will now use one emergency radio communications system, allowing them to talk to each other when responding to events.
Courtesy St. Charles County Police Department Facebook

Nearly all first responders throughout St. Charles County are now able to talk to one another.

That's because the county has finished building a new, $34 million emergency radio communications system. Before the new system was recently put in place, municipalities throughout the county had their own, separate radio systems.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 15, 2013 - A few days after 9/11, LaFaye Young drove from St. Louis to New York in  emergency response vehicle, delivering food to Ground Zero, the National Guard, the Coast Guard and others.

As a disaster specialist with the American Red Cross, Young was prepared to respond to the disaster, but a lot of people weren’t, especially young people.

Missouri Shake Out/SEMA

This morning, residents of Missouri, Illinois, and seven other Central U.S. states participated in an earthquake preparedness drill.

The annual event is known as the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut. This year, close to three million people registered to participate.

(National Institutes of Health)

As many as a quarter of EMTs and other emergency medical personnel in the St. Louis area may not be getting annual flu vaccinations, according to a new study out of Saint Louis University.

Saint Louis University nurse researcher and study lead Terri Rebmann says many study participants had misconceptions about the flu vaccine.

New, ramped-up tornado warnings to start Monday

Apr 1, 2012
(UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock)

As of Monday, the National Weather Service will be issuing a new kind of tornado warning in Missouri and Kansas.

The new, more forceful and explicit messages are designed to get attention and drive people to take shelter during dangerous storms.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 8, 2012 - When we picture ourselves coping with disaster, we often imagine running to the basement where we've ideally stashed our canned food, bottled water and hand-crank radio.

But even if you're prepared at home, there's a good chance you might not be there when disaster strikes. Adding up car time and hours at work, places of worship and in numerous other activities, it's common to be away for half the day or more.

(USGS)

The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut is an annual event intended to raise awareness about what to do in the event of a major earthquake.

Steve Besemer of the Missouri Emergency Management Agency says in Missouri and Illinois, more than 900,000 people, most of them students, participated in today's drill.

He says if an earthquake hits, there are three simple steps people should follow.

St. Louis Co. to retest some tornado sirens this week

Jan 9, 2012
(via Wikimedia Commons/FEMA Photo Library)

St. Louis County will be re-testing some of its tornado sirens this week.

The county has already tested the new omni-directional, solar-powered warning system twice since Labor Day.

But a spokesman for the county’s Department of Highways and Traffic and Public Works, David Wrone, says residents living near 18 of the sirens haven’t been able to hear them.

(via Flickr/ines_saraiva)

Motorola Solutions has been awarded a $75 million contract to design a radio system for first responders in St. Louis County.

The system will allow more than 150 police departments, fire departments, paramedics and other public safety agencies to communicate directly with each other by radio. Officials say their inability to do that makes it difficult to respond to disasters effectively.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 4, 2011 - Television viewers and radio listeners will hear a test of the emergency alert system Wednesday afternoon. But this exercise differs from exercises commonly conducted by local officials.

The test at 1 p.m. Wednesday is the first "end-to-end" nationwide test of the system -- a "diagnostic" exercise to see how the alert system would perform in the case of a major disaster or event, said Lauren Kravetz, a spokeswoman for the Federal Communications Commission.

(via Flickr/Filipão 28)

Federal officials will conduct the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) next week.

It’s scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Central Standard Time on Wednesday, November 9th, and will be broadcast over every radio station, TV station and cable network across the country.  Mike O’Connell with the Missouri Department of Public Safety says state officials are helping spread the word, so that residents don’t mistake the test for a real emergency.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

The federal government has provided millions of dollars to state and local governments to get them prepared to respond to the next 9/11.

In St. Louis and other regions across the country, the funds allowed fire departments to purchase equipment for all types of rescues and train their people to use the equipment. The requirements of the federal grants forced agencies to work together.

But federal funding dropped by more than 50 percent between fiscal years 2010 and 2011, and no one is sure how much money will be available for fiscal year 2012. And that’s raising some concerns about the sustainability of the region’s plan to respond to a mass disaster.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 5, 2011 - Ameren Missouri's Callaway Nuclear Plant passed but did not ace its 2011 federal disaster drill.

A newly released report for the May 11 exercise reveals three areas needing improvement. A previous drill found no issues. Even so, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has deemed the overall response plan satisfactory for protecting the public.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 5, 2011 - The St. Louis region is well-known for its fragmentation -- and that extends to emergency services like police and fire departments.

St. Louis County alone, for example, has roughly 43 fire agencies, 67 police departments and 91 municipalities. And that doesn't include emergency agencies in Jefferson County, St. Charles County or the Metro East.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 25, 2011 - Homeland Security efforts are often associated with professional firefighters and police — those trained to be first responders. But a program available across Missouri offers training for ordinary citizens to react affirmatively to emergency situations.

Missouri participates in national earthquake drill

May 19, 2011
(U.S. Geological Survey)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is holding drills across six states this week to see how prepared they are for a major earthquake along the New Madrid fault.

FEMA is teaming up with the military, as well as local hospitals, shelters and morgues for the simulation.

Beth Freeman is the FEMA regional administrator for Missouri and several neighboring states.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 18, 2011 - Bread, milk and ice are often the first items people think about when faced with a power outage. But what happens with those commodities when an earthquake cuts power citywide?

Emergency planners who've studied previous disasters have learned that darkened grocery stores are targets for looters. But instead of using a police presence to keep people out, St. Louis is leaning toward having the gendarmes escort people in and out of stores in an orderly fashion.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 18, 2011 - Bread, milk and ice are often the first items people think about when faced with a power outage. But what happens with those commodities when an earthquake cuts power citywide?

Emergency planners who've studied previous disasters have learned that darkened grocery stores are targets for looters. But instead of using a police presence to keep people out, St. Louis is leaning toward having the gendarmes escort people in and out of stores in an orderly fashion.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 16, 2011 - Have you ever woken up with a hangover only to face another big bash that evening? Then you understand why many of Missouri's disaster responders are almost too pooped to play in this week's national level emergency drill.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 13, 2011 - Students at Carnahan High School showed Thursday they not only know how to learn a lesson -- they can ask some pretty perceptive questions of their own.

The occasion was the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut, a drill held 200 years after an earthquake shook up parts of southeast Missouri and other areas affected by the New Madrid Fault. There to observe were Arne Duncan, secretary of education; Janet Napolitano, secretary of homeland security; Gov. Jay Nixon; and Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 12, 2011 The morning's sunny start turned gloomy just after 7 a.m. Wednesday and devolved into a full-scale disaster before lunch at Ameren Missouri's Callaway County Nuclear Power Plant.

At least that was the case on paper and in the actions of officials testing the facility's emergency response plan. The drill was one of the every-other-year mock disasters required of all U.S. nuclear plants. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency oversee the exercises. It's only coincidence that the 2011 event comes less than two months after a tsunami caused a radiological catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 8, 2011 - April was Disaster Preparedness month, and, right on cue, we had several stark reminders of the impact disasters can have on our daily lives. The storms just before Easter devastated nearly a dozen North St. Louis County communities and were the latest in what seems like a relentless string of severe storms that have battered the St. Louis region.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 28, 2011 - According to the National Weather Service, flood warnings are in effect for much of the area, from Quincy, Ill., to Cape Girardeau.

In Chester Wednesday morning, flood waters had begun making their way through Water and Kaskaskia streets. From their bluff-top view, people there could see water filling the bottoms on the Missouri side of the river.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 26, 2011 - It may sound like a hokey sci-fi film. But it's a stark reality that inanimate objects in and outside your home or office can become killers -- when an earthquake strikes. Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent tragedy.

"Securing household objects eliminates one of the main sources of people getting hurt in their homes," said Phillip Gould, a professor of mechanical engineering at Washington University.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 12, 2011 - WASHINGTON - The timing is unrelated to Japan's nuclear crisis, but a safety exercise in the four counties around Missouri's Callaway nuclear power plant next month seems likely to get far more attention than in previous years.

Morning headlines: April 4, 2011

Apr 4, 2011
(via Flickr/jennlynndesign)

Missouri Senate Committee to Release Redistricting Map Today

A Missouri Senate committee is preparing to consider a plan for developing new congressional districts. Missouri is losing one of its nine seats in the U.S. House, and the state Legislature is responsible for drawing the boundaries of the eight resulting districts. The Senate committee on redistricting is scheduled to release its proposed map today.

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