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Blog Posts by Jamie Barnett

Tips for Communicating in an Emergency

by Jamie Barnett, Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
August 27, 2011
James Arden Barnett, Jr.

I want to share some important emergency information to you for during the storm so that you and your family stay safe.

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Communicating with the Public During Emergencies

by Jamie Barnett, Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
July 8, 2011

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:54:]]With over 1,400 tornadoes and widespread flooding, we have already seen too much loss of life from natural disasters this year.  A bright spot in these terrible reports is when we hear a survivor say, “I got the warning, and I got to safety.”  This is the crucial premise of all alerts and warnings.  We may not be able to protect every single person from every disaster, but if we can get timely, accurate information about imminent danger to people in harm’s way, they can take action to save themselves and their loved ones.  Alerts provide the information that turns precious seconds into survival.

One of the FCC’s primary statutory obligations is to promote the safety of life and property through the use of wire and radio communications, and we are committed to this responsibility. We recognize this should be a team effort, and the FCC works closely with FEMA to bring the future of emergency alerting to consumers.

In 2008, the FCC adopted rules allowing wireless carriers to voluntarily transmit emergency text-like alerts to subscribers’ cell phones and other mobile devices. Since then, the FCC, FEMA, the wireless industry and state and local governments have worked to make a personal localized alerting network (or PLAN) a reality.  Four carriers – AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon – have committed to making PLAN available in New York City by the end of the year, and these carriers and others will begin to deploy PLAN in other parts of the country by April 7, 2012, the deadline set by the FCC.

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National Hurricane Preparedness Week

by Jamie Barnett, Chief, Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau
May 25, 2011

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:54:height=100,width=66]]The Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau can trace it’s origin from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  So, for us in the Bureau, National Hurricane Preparedness Week marks an extremely significant time when our work and focus are clearly oriented to the potential damage these storms can have on our Nation’s communication infrastructure.
For those who live in areas that are susceptible to hurricanes, this week should also be a time of preparation.  And preparation means planning for yourself and the safety and security of your family.  Hurricanes that reach the shore in heavily populated areas are often extremely damaging to all forms of communications.  Television and radio stations, home “landline” phones, and cell phones can all be impacted.  And those that are impacted include our emergency responders; police, fire, medical, and our 911 answering centers.
So, what should you do?  Make a plan right now.  From the www.ready.gov website you can find great planning advice.  Here’s one helpful excerpt:
Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to plan in advance: how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations.

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Managing Cybersecurity for Small Business

by Jamie Barnett, Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
May 18, 2011

In today’s connected economy, businesses must be certain that their operations are secure. The numbers from across the country show that, for too many small businesses, cybersecurity is overlooked. One in two don’t have security plans in place, while three of every four small and medium sized businesses report being affected by cyber attacks. We can never be too vigilant in preparing for cyber threats.

Yesterday, we took the first step in addressing the issue as Chairman Genachowski held the Cybersecurity Roundtable: Protecting Small Businesses. We hosted former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, panelists from top security companies such as Symantec, and even heard from a small business owner whose company fell victim to a cyber attack.

Maurice Jones, the Chief Operating Officer of Parkinson Construction, explained that not long ago his company became ensnared in a phishing attack. “We unknowingly clicked links in a valid-looking email,” he said. The thieves took hold of Parkinson’s bank account information and defrauded them of a huge sum of money before they could take hold of what had happened. Cyber risk is everywhere today. Understanding that risk and implementing a security plan for your employees is crucial.

There are a number of steps you can take immediately to protect your business. As Secretary Chertoff reminded the audience, “The focus is on managing cyber risk, not eliminating it.” Be proactive and adopt these ten tips to fit your business. They include training your employees in security practices, updating your antivirus software, backing up files, and requiring individual user accounts.

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The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake Disaster of 2011

by Jamie Barnett, Chief, Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau
May 4, 2011

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:54:]]The earthquake came first, but it was not like all of the other earthquakes they had known. The ground shook so violently, for so long that afternoon on March 11, 2011, the earth liquefying in many places. The destruction of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake was unimaginable, but the wall of water was next. The tidal surge of the tsunami was as high as a two or three story building, smashing buildings and structures like tinker toys. In addition to dealing a near crippling blow to Japan's communications system, and destroying homes in its path, the catastrophe left more than 11,000 dead or missing. The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake disaster reminds us of what America faced during and following Hurricane Katrina that struck the Gulf coast in 2005. That disaster is still with us, even after the rescue of many victims and the restoration of some of the buildings and infrastructure. Even so, it is difficult for us to imagine the enormity of the sense of loss, fear and desperation our neighbors in Japan must be facing during this difficult time.

The disaster in Japan is a reminder: we can never be too vigilant in preparing for the next catastrophic event. Yesterday’s Forum on Earthquake Communications Preparedness is part of the FCC’s vigilance.   Panel participants highlighted several ways to improve communications during disasters:

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Examining Network Reliability & Resiliency

by Jamie Barnett, Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
April 8, 2011

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:54:height=106,width=70]]Today the Commission initiated a comprehensive examination of the reliability and resiliency of communications networks, including broadband networks, particularly their ability to provide services during major emergencies, such as natural or man-made disasters.
The recent events in Japan illustrate the importance of resilient critical infrastructure.  No one would disagree that communications services are critical and central to our lives.  This is so because of how many segments of our Nation’s economy are dependent on resilient communications services, and because most aspects of our daily lives seem to revolve around access to communications services.
If you get a call to come pick your child up from school because he or she isn’t feeling well, and you ask that homework assignments be emailed to you, and then stop at the pharmacy on the way home and purchase medicine by swiping a card, you’ve consumed communications services in three different ways, each important to you.  Worse still, try to imagine the value you would place on being able to contact your family in the wake of a disaster.  Now, imagine a scenario where your child – or your spouse – needs urgent or life-saving attention.  Can you reach 9-1-1?  Does the ambulance have the information to know exactly how to find you?  Can the emergency room doctor receive medical records transmitted electronically to hasten treatment?  The stakes of reliable communications rise greatly where protection of human lives is involved.

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National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week - April 10-16

by Jamie Barnett, Chief, Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau
April 6, 2011

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The Federal Communications Commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau would like to thank and honor the men and women who serve everyday as public safety telecommunicators during this year’s National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week  (April 10-16, 2011).
 
First introduced by Congressman Markey, in 1991 during the 102nd Congress and Senator Biden, in 1993 during the 103rd Congress, a presidential proclamation was made for the second week of April to be designated as the National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week by then President Clinton in 1994. 
 
The National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week honors all local police, fire, and medical professionals, including Federal public safety officials, by recognizing their dedicated service in helping those in need through the use of telecommunications. Although this week is proclaimed for emergency responders, their valuable service should be applauded and held in the highest regard all through the year, for without their commitment, devotion, and hard work, countless number of lives and property would be in jeopardy. Thank you for helping our communities and keeping our nation safe. 
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Making Emergency Alerts and 911 Accessible

by Jamie Barnett, Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
April 6, 2011

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:54:height=106,width=70]]Emergency alerts and 911 are the two sides of the emergency communications coin.  Alerts warn the public of impending emergencies and 911 gives the public immediate access to emergency services.  It is a primary responsibility of the FCC to ensure that both of these essential services are available on a non-discriminatory basis to U.S. consumers, including the 54 million Americans with disabilities.
To commemorate National Deaf History Month, I would like to take a moment to share some steps that the Commission and the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) are taking to ensure that individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing have full access to emergency communications services.
Emergency Alerts
Emergency Alerts are an essential way for the government, whether Federal, State, local or tribal, to warn the public of an impending threat to life or property. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is used by state and local governments to issue several thousand weather-related and other emergency alerts every year, and provides the President with a platform from which to address the nation in the event of a national emergency.  The Commission’s EAS rules require that all televised EAS alerts be provided in visual and aural format.  as well as to make EAS alerts, as well as any other emergency information, accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.  This means that critical information about an emergency must be provided through closed captioning or other visual means.

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National Women’s Heart Health Month

by Jamie Barnett, Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
February 10, 2011

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As we celebrate Black History Month, we also recognize February as National Women’s Heart Health Month. This month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office on Women’s Health (OWH) is hosting the Make the Call, Don’t Miss a Beat campaign to encourage women to call 9-1-1 immediately when the seven symptoms of a heart attack occur:

  • Chest pain, discomfort, pressure or squeezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Light-headedness or sudden dizziness
  • Unusual upper body pain, or discomfort in one or both arms, back, shoulder, neck, jaw, or upper part of the stomach
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat

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The issues surrounding Women’s Heart Health are especially important to the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. Every minute a woman suffers a heart attack in America, but according to a 2009 American Heart Association (AHA) survey, many are not aware of the key symptoms of a heart attack. More astounding is the fact that only 50% of women said they would call 9-1-1 if they thought they were having a heart attack. It is imperative for the safety of women that these statistics change; 9-1-1 is the number to call during such health events.

During this month’s observance of Women’s Heart Health and in the months to follow, please encourage yourselves, your mothers, wives, aunts and sisters to educate themselves on the symptoms of heart attack and, without hesitation or procrastination, to call 9-1-1. It could literally mean the difference between life and death.

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FCC Hosts Two from Wounded Warrior Program

by Jamie Barnett, Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
February 1, 2011

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The Wounded Warrior Program is an internship program developed by the Department of Defense for injured service members who are convalescing at military treatment facilities in the National Capitol Region. The program provides meaningful activity outside of the hospital environment and offers a formal means of transition back to the military or civilian workforce. Placing these service members in supportive work settings that positively impact their recuperation is the underlying purpose of the program.

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The Wounded Warrior Program is a great opportunity for convalescing service members to build their resumes, explore employment interests, develop job skills, and gain valuable federal government work experience that will help them prepare for their adjustment to the workplace. The Department of Defense Computer/Electronics Accommodation Program provides for participating service members on assignment to federal agencies. This includes electronic equipment, transportation, sign language interpreter services, and other services they require.

I’m honored to report that the Federal Communications Commission has continuously participated in the Wounded Warrior Program since July 2008. Today, the Commission has two service members serving as emergency management interns with our Public Safety team while continuing their recuperation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Sergeant Lyndon Sampang, an Army veteran of eight years, was severely wounded on March 18, 2010 while on patrol in Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne. Prior to his assignment to Afghanistan, Sgt Sampang had completed a tour of duty in Iraq. Sgt Sampang began his internship with us on December 7, 2010.

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