Posts Tagged Incident Command

Disaster Response: Private Security Answers The Call For Dealing With Ebola

I believe this is the first incident of ebola in the US where a PMSC has been called up to guard the quarantine site? I mentioned how important security is to the response to this epidemic, that is quickly moving towards a pandemic, and I think we will see more of this. The CDC gave a worst case scenario of upwards of around 1.4 million people in Africa to be infected with ebola by January of next year.

Back to the main story, and that is the PMSC response to this outbreak. The company tasked with guarding the apartment and family quarantined in this particular incident is called Heartland Patrol, and the location is Dallas, Texas. I noticed that they have some pretty nice patrol vehicles? In the photo below, the vehicle being used is a Dodge Charger, and I know some police departments would love to have that thing.

Another point to bring up with this event is preparation for a security job that deals with infectious diseases and viruses. This kind of security work is new territory for security professionals that are involved with disaster response like this. My advice for anyone getting involved with this response is to update your insurance, and check if they will cover you if you actually work in such an environment.

Your best piece of equipment for a security gig like this is your mind. Get educated on everything to do with ebola, and increase your orientation on working in that environment so you can make good decisions. Work closely with the on site medical professionals and stay disciplined once you have a good plan for working around a quarantine site or treatment center. If you do not have access to that kind of resource, then seek it out. Go online, find local medical professionals who specialize in ebola, and become a student of this virus. Knowledge is your best weapon to counter it. And of course, your security mission is your primary reason for being there, so understand everything that it takes to do that job properly.

Another thing to brush up on is incident command. For large disaster responses, incident command is the primary tool for managing such things. So if your private security detail is a part of that kind of operation, then it behooves you to understand how that system works.

I have also seen jobs dealing with the medical response. Medical staff are in high demand in Africa and they are getting swamped. So if you have a medical background and a security contracting background, you would be perfect for these types of contracts. Especially in places like Africa, where the fear component is very high, which makes people act irrationally. Aid groups would be wise to have some kind of security professional tagging along, just so they can pick up on any of the signs of that type of thing. –Matt


The private security company called Heartland Patrol, on duty in front of the ebola patient’s apartment, which contains four members of the patient’s family who are in quarantine.


Ebola family under armed guard after trying to leave quarantine
October 3, 2014
A woman who has been confined to her Dallas apartment under armed guard after a man infected with Ebola stayed at her home said she never imagined this could happen to her so far from disease-ravaged West Africa.
Louise Troh said Thursday that she is tired of being locked up and wants health authorities to decontaminate her home.
Authorities say the circle of people in the US possibly exposed to Ebola widened after the man, who arrived from Liberia last month, was discharged from a hospital without being tested for the deadly virus.
The confinement order, which also bans visitors, was imposed after the family failed to comply with a request to stay home, according to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. Texas Health Commissioner David Lakey said the order would ensure that Troh, her 13-year-old son and two nephews can be closely monitored for signs of the disease.
The first Ebola diagnosis in the nation has raised concerns about whether the disease that has killed 3,300 people in West Africa could spread in the US. Federal health officials say they are confident they can keep it in check.
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Disaster Response: Hurricane Sandy–Some Tools To Track The Damage And Response

Man, this storm has done some serious damage and my thoughts and prayers go out to those on the East coast. Luckily the death toll has not been higher, but this thing is not over yet.

So for the response to this storm, it is important that folks who are involved with that have the tools necessary to track the disaster, and the response to the storm seems to be pretty good so far. But like the articles suggest below, folks were not expecting the storm surge to be this high and that will factor into the mix for the response. 13 to 14 ft is amazing.

One thing that is concerning is that this winter, and power is out. Hopefully the cold related injuries and deaths can be reduced to a minimum through an effective response. Neighbors helping neighbors.

The other thing is the main cause of deaths in this storm so far is falling trees. For first responders, definitely keep an eye on the trees in the areas you are responding too, because ‘widow makers’ are all over the place. Couple that with snow or ice forming on these precarious trees damaged by wind, and you can see why this is something to think about while going in these places.

Paul from the Facebook page asked if anyone has created an Ushahidi for this storm, and after some digging around, someone has. Here is a link to this storm tracking tool and you can click on the graphic below as well. The blog at Ushahidi is also posting about all of the various crowd mapping projects across the web that are trying to help out and that is useful for folks trying to find stuff that is relevant. FEMA and the Red Cross has resources as well. Good luck to everyone that is involved. –Matt



Sandy: Five Latest Developments
Published: Oct 31, 2012
Sandy continues to weaken over the interior Northeast, however gusty winds, snow and rain will linger into Wednesday.
Below are some of the latest developments as we continue to track Superstorm Sandy.
1: Millions Still Without Power
• As of 1 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday, over 5.9 million customers were without power due to Sandy.
• On Tuesday morning, a peak total of over 8 million customers were in the dark. Obviously the Northeast was hardest hit, but significant outages occurred in northern Ohio, and sporadic outages occurred as far away as northwest Indiana and northern Georgia.
• In some regions, power failures were nearly total. Governor Andrew Cuomo said 90% of Long Island families were without power Tuesday. One of New Jersey’s utilities reported 86% of its 1.1 million customers were without power Tuesday morning, and that figure was still 86% early Wednesday.
2: Numerous Fatalities Reported
• As of mid-morning Wednesday, the total number of fatalities blamed on Sandy is 47 in the mainland United States plus one in Puerto Rico.
• Many of the victims were killed by falling trees.
• Sandy also killed 69 people in the Caribbean. Click here for a complete roundup of Sandy’s aftermath in the Caribbean.
3: Staggering Damage
• Very early damage estimates suggest Sandy caused at least $10 billion in damage, and possibly as much as $50 billion in total damage and lost business. The higher number would make Sandy the second-costliest storm in U.S. history, behind Katrina.
• Damage ranged from storm surge flooding to direct wind damage to devastating fires fueled by high winds and the difficulties fire departments faced in navigating flooded or blocked roads. We have more than 200 images of the devastation at this link.
• For video of the damage and aftermath, check out our video player at the top of this page.
• We also have a by-the-numbers breakdown of Sandy’s top winds, worst surge and heaviest snow.
4: Chilly Weather in the Blackout Zone
Behind the storm, cold air has moved into areas where power is out.
Wednesday morning temperatures were in the 30s and 40s across most areas without power, except for New England where 50s and lower 60s prevailed.
New England will lose the mild advantage Thursday morning and 30s and 40s will prevail across the power outage regions for the next several mornings.
Daytime highs will only rise into the 40s and 50s over most of the areas that are without power, with no warm-up expected through the next five days.
5: Three Feet of Snow!
• Three feet — 36 inches — of snow fell near Richwood, W.Va. by late Wednesday morning.
• Mount Le Conte, Tenn., reported a whopping 34 inches of snow by Wednesday morning.
• 33 inches of snow fell near Clayton, W.V., ironically located in Summers County.
• Up to 29 inches of snow was reported in Redhouse, Md.
• Several other locations in the mountains of West Virginia and western Maryland received 2 feet or more. Even the high elevations of East Tennessee received as much as 22″ of snowfall.
• The heavy wet snow and high winds led to numerous power outages in communities throughout the central Appalachians, posing hardships especially for elderly residents coping with outdoor temperatures in the 20s and lower 30s.
• You can read more about Sandy’s snowy side and check out impressive Sandy snow photos here on
Story here.
NYC utility prepped for big storm, got bigger one
October, 2012
Consolidated Edison figured any surge would not surpass the 11-foot record set nearly two centuries ago. Or the design limit of 12.5 feet for a key substation in lower Manhattan.
But the wall of seawater reached 14 feet.
The surge that swamped the substation cut power to about 250,000 customers. It was the signature event in a series of electrical failures from winds and floods that at one point left almost 1 million Con Ed customers in the dark – a record storm outage for the utility.

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Military News: Lessons Learned–The Battle Of Ganjgal Valley Simulation

This is an excellent simulation of this battle, and a big thanks to Matt at Facebook for giving me the heads up. Long War Journal also posted this thing, and keep your eyes on the comments there if you want to review feedback.

Might I also add if you didn’t know already, that this was the battle that Marine Dakota Meyer participated in and received the Medal of Honor for. So it is cool to see exactly what went down that day in the form of a video simulation.

As to my comments on the battle? I think the lessons learned posted at the end say it all. Also, from a private military point of view, you can see how important it is for everyone involved in the machine to be on the same sheet of music and to have excellent intelligence to make good plans.

Also, you can see how vital support was to this task force of Marines, Afghan soldiers, and Army. To be able to support your operations versus depending on someone else to arrange that support or give that is the ultimate in self-sufficiency and mobility. Having their own mortars to provide their own organic fire support, or even having drones like the Switchblade would have been nice to have.

Just look at what happens when you have to depend upon a command post operations center that was incompetent or too bureaucratic/inefficient to support a task force like this?  Or look what happens when they are overwhelmed or understaffed?

Another point I wanted to make is Incident Command versus what the military tries to do in war. I think the military could learn from forest fire fighting dispatching centers. They are fast paced, chaotic, and people depend upon a dispatcher’s quick decision making to support fire fighting.

When I was a forest fire fighter back in the day, I got a chance to be a dispatcher. Decisions made in the dispatch center saved lives and property, and we supported operations during times of normal fire activity, all the way up to ‘the entire world was on fire and pure chaos was the result’. lol It is a tough job, and mentally you will be pushed. (it is a multi-tasker’s profession, and women do well at it)

As a dispatcher, you have to understand the needs of those in the field, and bend over backwards to ensure they are supported for their fight. You must be able to operate like this, at all times and in all conditions, and get it right every time. Incident Command is a key command system that makes this work. So when I view how this command post operations center operated in this battle, I have to shake my head in disbelief.

Another thing with dispatching is that highly experienced forest fire fighters were very nice to have in these centers, just because they could interpret the events happening out in the field, and help devise better plans of support. That they could share the reality of the folks out in the field, far better than a dispatcher that has never been out in the field. That’s not to say that dispatchers without fire fighting experience are not good–it’s just they do not have the same ‘orientation’ as experienced fire fighters. (OODA totally applies to this battle, and fire fighting/dispatching)

Although, both types of dispatchers helped tremendously. Two different types of orientation, all contributing to a fast paced decision making environment… I think military folks could learn a few things from these centers.

Also, the company that produced this video put together some fantastic training videos on squad movements and other infantry related skills. Either way, check it out and let me know what you think? –Matt


In this undated photo released by the U.S. Marines, Sgt. Dakota Meyer poses for a photo while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Ganjgal Village, Kunar province, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/U.S. Marines)


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Paracargo: The On-again, Off-again Saga Of Airdrops In Haiti

    Only in a military briefing like this, where in one breath they say that air drops are unacceptable because of a lack of security, yet in the next breath, the idea of parachuting soldiers in to provide that security was out of the question. Or they say that parachuting in would have sent the wrong message?  Sooooo thousands of troops pouring in by airport or by ship sends a better message?

   I don’t know folks.  I think as soon as we said we were going to help, and do everything in our power to help, airdrops and securing those drop zones for such a thing, should have been considered.  Wrong message or not, air drops send the right message of ‘doing all we can to help’.  It would have also put tools in the hands of the people, along with food and water, to hold them over until the main effort gets under way.

   At least they dropped what they did, but how many days were wasted until they finally came to this logical conclusion? In the fire services, I would have been fired (if that is even possible in the federal government) for such a poor initial attack response. That, and an investigation. –Matt


DOD Background Briefing with Senior Military Officials from the Pentagon About Haiti Operations

Presenter: Senior Military Officials

January 20, 2010

(airdrops and parachuting in troops section)

Q     Could you explain this on-again, off-again story of air drops: first it was no way, then there was an air drop, then another — more were scheduled for today and, as I understand, they didn’t happen. So what’s going on with air drops?

SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL 1: Yeah, two things on that point, if I may. First off, air drops can be, obviously, very successful and very quick. And we know that yesterday they were both. They brought in over 15,000 meals and 15,000 liters of water.

     There are two requirements for air drops.  We just explained one, which is the actual availability of the aircraft. And sometimes you have to divert that aircraft to another mission, because in the — in the particular case — again, bringing 2/82 out of their home station, you know, either you bring the food and the water from there or you bring the people from there or you bring the trucks from there. So does that — that tradeoff about what gets on the aircraft is point number one.

     And then point number two is, you have to have a safe and secure area to drop the water and the food: either that there is — it’s a controlled area, that there are either U.S. forces, MINUSTAH forces or government of Haiti forces there that can actually supervise the area, and it doesn’t become a scene where people are injured, and instead of distributing food and water, it becomes just — you know, a calamity, because people are crawling in to get there. So you want to secure the area.

     With that amount of food and water, you need a big area. And in the aftermath of the quake, a lot of the displaced and the victims moved to the areas that we would have normally used for either LZs or PZs, and places where we would have distributed food and water or picked up people. And part of that would have been, for example, our embassy evacuation plan. So we had to make sure that the area we were going to drop the food and water in was, indeed, safe and secure.

Q     The — early on, was there ever any — and you may have just answered this — any consideration to jumping the 82nd itself in; they then set up — you know, you’re clear, you got a landing zone, and then vehicles and supplies come in?

SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL 1: I would have to, you know, defer to the commander on the ground out there. I don’t think at this — from my point of view right here, I don’t believe there was a conscious decision to do that, because we didn’t think that was a — the prudent thing to do. It was a —

Q     It wasn’t really considered?

SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL 1: No.  And it’s — and there’s also an issue of optics here, because we are there to assist and enable. This is not a jump into a combat zone; this is not a jump.

     So we’re there to assist and enable. It’s a peaceful nation. It’s a very dramatic and, as General Keen said, epic proportions, the disaster there. And we’re there to get there quickly and to help. And to parachute in or to drop in, it was not required and would have probably sent the wrong message.

Q     Did you say there will be more airdrops that you’re planning?

SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL 1: Yeah. That is on the horizon. We’re always looking at the opportunity to do that. Right now the aircraft for today are filled, and we’re looking at moving cargo and personnel and drugs. But, you know, when we get that request, those are decisions that General Fraser and General Keen will make about the appropriate time and place to do that.

Link to briefing here.


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Building Snowmobiles: Using Social Media To Win the Fight

   It’s been awhile since I posted a good Building Snowmobiles article, and I think I might have stumbled upon something with some meat.  Or at least I hope. So with that said, here it is.  Instead of chastising ‘citizen journalists’, we should instead encourage what good citizen journalism should be, and better yet, encourage the kind of reporting that would help us to win the fight in whatever battle we are fighting at the time.  That battle could be a flood, a fire, a terrorist attack, or even some crazy Black Swan type event. To not take advantage of the human nodes that are closest to those events, is like not taking advantage of the high ground in a battle.

   I will even take this a step further.  The Department of Homeland Security should actually have Incident Command Teams established to work with and manage the information coming in from these nodes.  Citizens with smart phones, who are savvy with Twitter and Facebook, or a personal blog, should be tapped into and we should work with them, as opposed to ignoring or fearing what they have to say.  And if we were proactive, DHS could promote what good reportage is and what they are trying to do in these emergencies. It would take commercials and online marketing to get the word out, but once the online community in the US knows the protocols, I think the impact for future incidents would be amazing.

   This Incident Command Team could be collecting real time information in a sort of social media fusion center, and that team would be sorting through the information using data mining, cloud computing and any other various methods.  The emphasis would be on information engagement, not information control.  Especially if the Incident Command Team had a online presence on Twitter and Facebook, or a Team or Incident website. I have seen websites that IC Teams have put up before for fires, so this is not new.

     There is so much information coming in from these incidents, and with a little help and guidance to all of these citizen journalists walking around on the scene of the incident, we could be getting some life saving information to the first responders. And with the advent of everyone carrying smart phones, with cameras and microphones built into them, along with access to the internet, then the possibilities are endless.  In essence, these citizen journalists should be looked at as walking human sensors or social media warriors, feeding the war room with the kind of information needed to gain the advantage in a quickly evolving fight.  A fight that is taking place in the physical, with wounded and dead, and a fight taking place online where the impact of that carnage is being used to fuel a propaganda campaign.

   The IC Team could be feeding information to law enforcement agencies that are responding.  The medical personnel responding could get a better idea of how many wounded and the kind of injuries, based on these reports.  The local community leaders could have better information to respond to their constituents and media with. Military response could get a better picture of the battlefield. The Team media relations officer could have a more complete info packet to give to the media, and also work with the media to help in the fight. Etc., etc. etc.

    A team like this could also track inappropriate information that only works against the fight, and engage with that individual and communicate what the team needs them to do.  Mrs. Moore (in the article below) could have been given guidance while she was out there.  All she wants to do is help, and a Incident Command Team could have been able to reach her and give her guidance before she did any more damage. Better yet, they could work with her and actually get some usable information out of what she is experiencing.

   This team can also be used to identify social media enemies on the scene.  No doubt, the enemy is reading this stuff and thinking about the possibilities (kind of entering 5th Gen warfare realm now).  They could easily assemble a team to work against this Incident Command team and fuel the fire of dis-information, and a real time information war can take place.  It is a fight over information, and we must be organized and technologically savvy to deal with this real time information assault.  They could have guys running around with camera phones, and posting pictures of the dead and wounded all over the place.  They could film the scene, and post it on youtube with the typical jihadi music and banners.

     The mobile smart phone is something that we must deal with, when it comes to these incidents, and if we are smart, we can create super empowered individuals with similar smart phones to counter these enemies.  Just imagine if Mrs. Moore was working for the other side during this incident?  Just imagine the kind of information she could instantly send out that would help the propaganda campaigns of the enemy? Or if the enemy was fueling a unknowing Mrs. Moore as to the kinds of things she should post.  They could be egging her on, to only help their cause, and she might not even know that she is helping.  That is why we must be prepared and we must be organized to deal with this.

   Finally, to really emphasize how important this is.  Disasters are a natural part of life, and tornados or fires do not Twitter or use Facebook.  But the enemy (criminals, states, terrorists, insane super empowered individuals, etc.) can use Twitter and Facebook, and all other types of social media technologies.  So if the enemy has the same access to these technologies as we do, then how do we get an edge in the fight?  We must be more organized and prepared, and we must apply OODA to the fight. We must also be better learning organizations and apply Kaizen to all aspects of that organization, so that we can continue to stay one step ahead of the enemy(s).  That is the only way in my view, and if we do not, we will definitely lose on the social media battlefield when confronted by a social media empowered enemy, or a citizen journalist that does not know what damage they are inflicting. –Matt


Die Hard

Twitter-@John_McClane, ‘I just shot one of them in the face, ten more to go. I need a cigarette.’

Ft. Hood Soldier Causes Stir on Twitter

During Fort Hood Shooting, Soldier Uses Twitter, Shares Pictures in Real-Time


Nov. 11, 2009—

Amid the tragedy last week at Fort Hood, as officials worked to secure the Texas military base, treat the wounded and account for the dead, one soldier turned to Twitter, sending a stream of up-to-the-minute reports from inside a hospital where the injured were being taken for treatment.

Some messages were simple observations, others expletive-laced commentary.

But in the shooting’s aftermath, the soldier, Tearah Moore, 30, has found herself at the center of a sharp debate about the real-time sharing and whether the military should police the use of new media.

As news started to break about the deadly shooting that killed 12 soldiers and wounded 30 others, some users of the micro-blogging site Twitter started to notice the messages from one user in particular.

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India: Security Summit in Mumbai, and Private Security Increases

Other companies have also launched security services. The Indian building firm DLF has formed TerraForce, its own security outfit, trained by the Israeli army and the US marines, to patrol its properties. Infosys, the IT giant, and the country’s largest private-sector firm, Reliance Industries, have both been allotted permanent protection from India’s state Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), whose officers, unlike those in private security firms, are permitted to carry firearms.

Hiring private security is arguably necessary, given the evident failings of the Indian state security forces during the attacks. The police were armed with nothing but bamboo “lathis” or sticks when they had to face the militants. Members of the elite National Security Guard (NSG) took eight hours to travel from their base in the state of Haryana to the hotels, and then it took two more days to defeat the 10 gunmen. 


   Well there’s your problem India.  You don’t bring bamboo “lathis” to a gun fight. lol All kidding aside, it will be interesting to see what comes out of the meeting of the minds during this security summit. I certainly hope Incident Command is at least given a mention during this summit, because if they have any hope of defeating an attack like this, it will come from unity of effort and a fast and efficient means of getting everyone on the same sheet of music in the beginning stages of an attack.  The private guards like Terraforce, or the police units, military units and fire units all should have radios that can be programmed or are set up already to communicate with one another.  An Incident Commander on scene, needs to take the reins of the situation, and bring to bear the necessary resources to deal with the developing situation.  And when seconds and minutes count, all the little details of command and control need to be hashed out, well before another Mumbai attack.  That is how you prepare for this.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to get everyone under the same umbrella of Incident Command, in order for this system to properly work.  Your first responders are the ones that will be able to confront and defeat the attack before it gets worse. And if they are organized and know what to do in order to take control of a situation, then you will see a disaster/attack go from chaos to organized chaos, giving everyone involved a higher chance of survival.

   On a side note, I am interested in this whole TerraForce thing?  That must be a typo about the US Marines training them?  I just couldn’t find anything to support that claim and perhaps what the article meant to say is that it was ‘former US Marines’.  Maybe some Embassy guys, or some unit came in to train them, and I could be wrong.  Either way, if any of the readers have any input about TerraForce, let me know. –Matt


Mumbai unbowed by attacks

Richard Orange

October 24. 2009

Early next month, the head of London’s Metropolitan Police, the former secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, and a panel of international security experts will gather in Mumbai’s Trident Hotel for a “security and resilience summit”.

That some of the world’s foremost experts on terrorism, including Sir Paul Stephenson of the London Met and the former homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff, are willing to spend a day and night in a hotel where militants killed more than 30 people just a year earlier is a sign of how much the city has recovered. (Many of the same faces were in the Trident for a similar conference as early as January).

In the time since 10 Pakistani gunmen brought terror to Mumbai for two days starting last November 26, India’s main business hub has bounced back. Read the rest of this entry »

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