PRIMA RiskWatch
Feb. 5, 2015

How FEMA uses Waffle House to measure disasters
When a big storm or tornado devastates a community, the Federal Emergency Management Agency usually steps in to help state and local officials. But in recent years, FEMA has been getting some help of its own from an unexpected source — one you see on almost every highway throughout the Southeast: Waffle House.More

Researchers link smoke from fires to tornado intensity
Claims Journal
Can smoke from fires intensify tornadoes? "Yes," say University of Iowa researchers, who examined the effects of smoke — resulting from spring agricultural land-clearing fires in Central America — transported across the Gulf of Mexico and encountering tornado conditions already in process in the United States.More

What do bridges and public health have in common?
The Huffington Post
Infrastructure is never quite as interesting or exciting as innovation. The grand opening of a new building incorporating all the latest integrated technology is far more exciting than bridge repairs. In our fascination for the innovation, we often turn a blind eye to our nation's crumbling infrastructure. In the United States as of 2005, one quarter of our bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete and more than 100 levees weref "at risk of failure." Our nation's public health infrastructure shares many commonalities with our nation's brick and mortar infrastructure. It, too, has been neglected over the years and is only in the public eye when there is a disease outbreak or a disaster. More

Measles vaccine: Whose rights are at risk?
Before the measles vaccine in 1963, the death rate from measles was close to twice that from polio. Fortunately, the new vaccine turned the situation around. In 1963 and 1964, there were over 800,000 cases of measles in the United States. By 1982, vaccination had largely eliminated the disease. Measles made a modest comeback around 1990, and then fell quiescent—until the recent outbreak of measles cases at Disneyland in California, which, as it spreads, puts the issue of vaccines back on the table.More

Hiding behind HIPAA? No public warning after mental patient escapes
WINK-TV is pressing for answers after a security scare in downtown Naples. Police say a mental patient with violent tendencies escaped but the hospital would not confirm the event happened, citing HIPAA law. More

Harnessing data to fight crime
Last year, police in Prince George's County, Maryland, found themselves faced with an alarming increase in armed robberies of commercial establishments. Their response proved just how successful the wise use of data and a willingness to set aggressive goals — along with a healthy dollop of creativity — can be in the fight against crime.More

Can a crowdsourced data service change emergency response?
Emergency Management
When he speaks of that Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, Dan Hoffman's memory is a blur. Details come back in hazy pieces. His first recollections flash back to a headache, a throbbing pain that drove him into an afternoon nap. Next he recalls the sensations of heat, waking to a baking swelter. Next the glow of flames, a black canopy of smoke above, coughs shaking his lungs, the fire alarm shrieking, attempting to stand, to breathe, to reach for his cellphone and dial 911.More

California labels e-cigarettes a public health threat
The Washington Post
The California Department of Public Health recently issued a warning about the dangers of e-cigarettes, as states across the country consider new regulations for the booming industry.More