May 28, 2015 |
When a violent earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in March 2011, emergency responders needed to vent hydrogen gas from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant before it reached dangerous levels. But radiation exposure kept workers from finishing the job, and the gas fueled explosions in two reactor buildings. Could a robot have done a better job? That question is a primary driver of a two-day competition sponsored next month by the research arm of the Pentagon. Twenty-five teams from around the world have programmed robots to tackle eight tasks of the sort that one might encounter in disaster response.
May 25, 2015 |
After a major accident or disaster, rescue operations have always focused on the nuts and bolts - saving the survivors, searching for those who didn't make it, securing the evidence. Now an added dimension - call it the consumer perspective - has expanded how disaster planners think. Philadelphia emergency management officials say it guided their response to the Amtrak derailment that killed eight and injured more than 200 a dozen days ago. Passengers are going through "the most traumatic time of their lives," said Everett A. Gillison, Mayor Nutter's chief of staff and deputy mayor for public safety.
May 20, 2015 |
IT'S EARLY Monday morning, and I'm at 30th Street Station. It has been six days since the deadly crash of Amtrak's Train 188 in Frankford shut down rail service between Philly and New York. Northbound Amtrak service resumes at 5:53 a.m., and city officials, railroad administrators and reporters galore are at the station. I'm not really here for the hoopla. I'd planned only to ride the train for a passenger's-eye view of the disaster site. Still, I say hello to the mayor, scribble quotes from Amtrak bigwigs and ask a few commuters how it feels to board the first northbound Amtrak train after the disaster.
May 18, 2015 |
FOLLOWING A house fire, a hurricane, a catastrophic train wreck, volunteers and staff from the Red Cross materialize - seemingly out of thin air - to help victims back on their feet. "We address all those human needs that restore your dignity to you," says judge Renee Cardwell Hughes, CEO at the American Red Cross of Eastern Pennsylvania. Within hours after Tuesday night's Amtrak derailment, her people had manned two help centers for passengers and their worried families, one at 30th Street Station and another at Webster Elementary on Frankford Avenue.
May 15, 2015 |
TUESDAY NIGHT'S fatal derailment was the worst Philadelphia train disaster in decades. The timing seemed chillingly prophetic: Just one day before the crash, the city's Office of Emergency Management had held a "mass casualty workshop" with police, fire and health personnel. Moments after Train 188 careened off the tracks, emergency calls went out across the city and scores of first responders rushed to the scene to find the mangled bodies of those killed and more than 200 injured and bloodied passengers.
February 13, 2015 |
TODAY AT Citizens Bank Park, 7 weeks and 3 days before the Phillies' season begins at the 12-year-old ballpark, an equipment truck filled with everything from baseballs and batting helmets to bubblegum and sunflower seeds will begin its annual trek south. It will arrive at the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater, Fla., at some point this weekend. The truck will empty and all of the pieces will be properly put into place before pitchers and catchers take part in their first official workout on Thursday.
January 6, 2015 |
WHEN AN early-December fire consumed their kitchen and filled their North Philadelphia house with smoke, Sharon McCurdy and her adult son, Wilson Washington, fled onto 27th Street near Somerset. Their beloved gray-and-white cat, Tigger, was missing. Once the fire scene was secure, former firefighter Jennifer Leary and her Red Paw Emergency Relief Team responded to Tigger's absence as intensely as the Red Cross responds to families displaced by disaster. Leary found Tigger at the scene of the fire, boarded him in her house, took him to a veterinarian and placed him in Red Paw's network of temporary foster homes until he could return to his. After staying with relatives, McCurdy and Washington were able to move back home just before Christmas.
November 26, 2014
EACH YEAR Pennsylvania hands out $5.5 billion in subsidies for basic education that follows a formula which is outdated and ignores the realities of local school districts. To use just one example: districts that have lost students in recent years get the same amount of state subsidy, even though they are educating fewer children. And don't even talk about making allowances for such factors as poverty. In fact, in 2007, a "costing-out" study commissioned by the legislature concluded that the state's public schools were underfunded by $4.38 billion.
October 27, 2014 |
It was a disaster waiting to happen. At 10 a.m. Saturday - as scheduled - a startling bang and a few puffs of multicolored smoke kicked off a carefully planned emergency-preparedness exercise at Philadelphia International Airport. Strewn across the runway were more than 100 volunteer victims and an American Airlines jet. "I can't feel my leg!" one victim called out. The live drill, required every three years by the Federal Aviation Administration, had begun. As the airport's Engine 78 arrived first on scene, the air-traffic control tower declared a major aircraft incident at the highest level.
August 4, 2014 |
ATLANTIC CITY - The fallout over mass layoffs from three potential casino closings next month could have a severe impact on the Shore economy, as those whose livelihoods depend on a thriving casino industry brace for the worst. Local retailers, restaurants, and other businesses that rely on casino workers are expecting a hit. Experts say the region could also see an exodus of laid-off workers, especially among those who live in Atlantic City, as they seek jobs and futures elsewhere. About 6,500 workers from Showboat, Trump Plaza, and possibly Revel could all lose their jobs from Aug. 31 to Sept.