Sep 03, 2015
NDPTC awarded volcano hazards grant from National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation has awarded National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC) staff members Bruce Houghton, Chris Gregg and Karl Kim a US$1.2 million contract to analyze and reduce vulnerability during volcanic crises in the United States. The NDPTC is a national center, funded by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which has developed and delivered training courses to more than 18,862 emergency managers and first responders across the nation. 

This study will focus on two prolonged volcanic related crises: the Kīlauea volcano (since 1983), and the other in Long Valley, California (since the mid 1970s). Scientists will holistically examine the geographic uncertainty of these areas, from the deep movements of molten rock beneath the volcanoes to the decision-making processes made by residents, emergency managers, and early responders in the affected communities.

The Kīlauea project is being led by NDPTC Science Director, Professor Houghton. “Hawaii is uniquely placed to be the site for this study, and results of the research will be fed seamlessly into enhancing our educational products for our key training missions with FEMA,” said Houghton. “As new results become available from externally funded research, they will be fed into courses delivered by NDPTC and our partners.” 

NDPTC Lead Course Development Program Manager, Dr. Christopher Gregg, heads the social science component of study at both volcanoes. Gregg is also working with disaster psychologist, Professor Mike Lindell, from the University of Washington. Gregg said, “The 2014-2015 lava flows in Hawaii’s Puna area demonstrates graphically the need for further research, to reduce the economic and social impacts of prolonged volcanic crises.”

Professor Karl Kim, executive director of the NDPTC, said that “The NSF study fits with our vision of NDPTC as a Center, which combines training, education, and externally funded research while enhancing our mission of building resilient communities through training and educational programs in the areas of disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.”

This Kīlauea volcano and Long Valley, California studies are part of a larger (US$2.9 million) award granted to a University at Buffalo led, six-university, consortium that is in collaboration with the Volcano Hazards Program of the U.S. Geological Survey. The project uses sophisticated statistical approaches to ‘bridge’ gaps in the information available to volcanologists, emergency managers, decision makers, and the public.

Lava flow crossed Apa‘a Road in Puna

A lobe or tongue of the [June 27th] lava flow crossed Apa‘a Road in Puna on October 24, 2014, and threatened an adjacent electricity transmission line.  This lobe of the lava flow ultimately stopped in early November, 2014, just 200 m south of Pāhoa Village Road.  [USGS photograph]

Public meeting held at the Pāhoa High School

Standing room only at a public meeting held at the Pāhoa High School. Up to in excess of 600 people were briefed each week by officials from the County of Hawai`i and scientists from the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Detailed maps (e.g., [left] foreground) supplied extra information on the flow extent and direction to the public.  [USGS photograph]


Aug 28, 2015
NDPC NEWS: Summer 2015 Edition
Hot off the presses!! Here is the latest NDPC Newsletter. Click here to download.
Aug 05, 2015
NDPTC on ThinkTech Hawaii with Jay Fidell

Karl Kim, Owen Shieh, and Thomas Bedard were on ThinkTech Hawaii on 8/4/15 with host Jay Fidell to talk about "Forecasting the Approaching Storm." As the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, Hawaii is monitoring a large storm east of the Big Island. Karl, Owen, and Thomas discuss with Jay about hurricane forecasting, storm technology, and the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center's (NDPTC) training for hurricanes. To watch the broadcast, click on this here.

Karl, Owen, and Tom on ThinkTech Hawaii with Jay Fidell

Jul 24, 2015
NDPTC holds Unmanned Aircraft in Disaster Management Class in San Diego

The National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC) is developing a course on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in disaster management and held its second pilot course in San Diego, CA., on July 13th. UAS, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, are an emerging technology on the verge of revolutionizing disaster management.

The new course guides government agencies and others in emergency management through the steps to building a successful UAS program, including identifying when UAS would enhance a disaster mission; knowing which UAS vehicles and sensors are best for various situations; understanding the current FAA UAS regulations and related laws; understanding the importance of engaging the local community; ensuring that privacy issues, civil rights, and civil liberties are thoroughly addressed; and learning how to apply for FAA authorization.

This one-day, 8-hour course was held at the emergency operations center of San Diego Gas and Electric (SDGE), which is the first utility company in the U.S. to receive authorization from the FAA to use UAS. The course participants included people from fire departments, emergency management offices, universities, police departments, and others throughout California who were eager to learn how UAS might help their emergency operations. Class participants had many questions that lead to great discussions on how to move forward with designing a UAS program, how to successfully work with the FAA, how to best engage the local community and what pitfalls to avoid, how to incorporate UAS into their existing operations, and how to learn from some of the current positive and negative UAS stories in the news.

Small, unmanned aircraft can be essential tools for finding lost or trapped people using infrared sensors; for post-disaster damage assessment imagery of infrastructure, transportation, and buildings; for delivering critical items such as medicine to stranded people; for providing a temporary communications network when the primary system is damaged by a disaster; for ongoing infrastructure analysis as part of disaster mitigation; and for providing early storm warning public audio announcements via an onboard speaker system, among many other uses.

NDPTC plans to follow up the first UAS course with two other related courses to further help government agencies appropriately develop UAS program that enhance the mission of emergency management. The second course will help integrate UAS into the policies and procedures of disaster management agencies and will help create a framework for bringing UAS operations, mission planning, management, safety, and information flow into existing policies and procedures in disaster management and propose new policies and procedures to fully integrate UAS. The third course will equip people involved in disaster management with the basic tools of UAS imagery analysis, since imagery from UAS is useful in disaster management only if individuals know how to interpret the data and imagery and take actionable steps for decision-making.

Photo From left to right: Ted Ralston, subject matter expert for UAS course; Teena Deering, UAS course instructor and SDGE UAS pilot; and Jennifer Davidson, NDPTC program manager for UAS course, at SDGE’s emergency operations center for the NDPTC UAS course.

UAS Course Instructors

Jul 18, 2015
NDPTC Hosts the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium Quarterly Meeting

The National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC) hosted the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium's (NDPC) Quarterly Meeting in Kona, Hawaii from July 13 - 16, 2015 . NDPC consists of seven FEMA Training Providers, which include the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC) at the University of Hawaii, National Center for Biomedical Research and Training at Lousiana State University, the National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC) at the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center (EMRTC) at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, the Center for Radiological Nuclear Testing at the Nevada National Security Site (CTOS/NNSA), the Security and Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC) at the Transportation Technology Center, and Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP). During the weeklong meetings, NDPC Principals and Committee (Curriculum, Operations, and Information Technology) members discussed matters to improve training to reduce risk, and increase resilience. Also in attendance were FEMA National Training and Education Division (NTED) executives, as well as partners from the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium (RDPC), the Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) at the Naval Postgraduate School, and Emergency Management Institute (EMI). 

NDPC Meeting