Become a Disaster Volunteer at American Red Cross

31 12 2009

The American Red Cross – Southwestern Branch is located at 2610 B.F. Terry Boulevard in Rosenberg, Texas.  Every first Monday of every month, the Southwestern Branch Office is holding a Disaster Volunteer Meeting.  This meeting is for interested volunteers who want to get involved in American Red Cross Disaster Services.  Various volunteer opportunities, projects, and programs are discussed at these meetings.  In addition, members of the Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT) meet to discuss training opportunities, local disasters, and disaster preparedness.  The next meeting will be held Monday, January 4, 2010, at 6:30 pm at the above address.  The scheduled meeting for February will be Monday, February 1, 2010.  Same time; same location.

If you are interested in becoming a Disaster Volunteer, or attending one of the Disaster Volunteer Meetings, please contact Caroline Egan at 281-342-9480, or via email at

To review the Jan/Feb 2010 Southwestern Branch Newsletter: 

Jan-Feb 10 ARC Newsletter

Terrorism: Understanding More about Threat Awareness and Detection

30 12 2009

The recent act of terrorism attempted on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 provides another reminder that all citizens need to be aware of their surroundings and be vigilant for activities and behaviors that do not appear normal.  This is true when one goes flying, but it is also true as we move around our County on a daily basis.  Unfortunately, it appears that acts of terrorism are here to stay and all of us need to be concerned and ready to react.

Experts in homeland security and protection of critical infrastructure are very much concerned about the safety of “soft targets.”  What is a “soft target?”  In general, a hard target would be a military installation or a chemical plant which is a well defended installation.  On the other hand, a soft target is one that is most likely an undefended civilian location which could easily be attacked by terrorists.  Shopping malls, like Katy Mills or First Colony, could be a soft target for terrorists.  A football stadium, be it Reliant or Mercer, is a soft target.  Even a Little League baseball field full of kids and families on a Saturday afternoon is defined as a soft target.

So what is a citizen to do?  Experts from the Emergency Management and Response Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EMR-ISAC) recommend that all citizens 1) Recognize the threat from suspicious behavior or activities; 2) Report the threat to appropriate personnel; and 3) React to the threat by knowing what to do.

The Soft Target Awareness: Threat Awareness and Detection for Retail and Shopping Center Staff training video was developed by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Bombing Prevention and Commercial Facilities Sector to provide information for retail staff to understand how to identify and report unusual activities and threats in a timely manner.  This training tool uses case studies and best practices to explain suspicious behavior and items, how to reduce vulnerability of an active shooter threat to a soft target, and the appropriate actions to take if employees notice suspicious activities.  Though the video is directed toward retail staff, the information provided in the video is good information for all citizens.

The link below takes you to a self-initiating video, requiring Adobe Acrobat software.  It is self-paced and can be played for individual use or any size group.  The video is 23 minutes in length.  If you would like somebody from the Office of Emergency Management to make a presentation on this topic to a group or organization you belong to, please just respond to this blog posting and let me know.  We will get something scheduled for you.


Photos of the Northwest Airlines Flight 253 Bomb

29 12 2009

More about terrorism and the recent incident on Flight 253 can be found at the following link:

Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP)

28 12 2009

A colleague has indicated to me that Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP) is another type of explosive that should be considered as a high threat, like PETN.  It is my understanding that TATP can be manufactured from commonly available materials.  This explosive has been used in the Middle East, especially by suicide bombers in Israel.  TATP is one of the most sensitive explosives known, being extremely sensitive to impact, temperature change and friction.

TATP can be easily prepared in a basement lab using commercially available starting materials obtained from, e.g., hardware stores, pharmacies, and stores selling cosmetics.  TATP is a fairly easy explosive to make, as far as explosives manufacturing goes.  It is my understanding that all it takes is acetone, hydrogen peroxide (3% medicinal peroxide is not concentrated enough), and a strong acid like hydrochloric or sulfuric acid.

Notable terrorism incidents utilizing TATP include Richard Reid who targeted American Airlines Flight 63 with a bomb concealed in his shoe with a TATP detonator, along with PETN.   The explosive may have been used as the explosive in the July 2005 London bombings.   On September 4, 2007, homemade TATP was found during the arrest of eight suspected Al-Qaeda collaborators in Denmark.

The apparent ease of making the explosive is demonstrated by a report (contained in wikipedia) which indicates a 13-year-old student in Hong Kong was injured on March 28, 2009 when he tried to light some TATP powder provided by another 14-year-old boy. Police found six more bottles of TATP from his apartment. Police believe those bottles of TATP were homemade by the 14-year-old boy for curiosity’s sake. Including the injured boy, 3 teenagers were later arrested on explosives possession charges.  Of course, this is also a good example of how unstable and sensitive the explosive is when handled.

Pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN)

28 12 2009

Pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) is the powerful high explosive that was in the news over the holiday weekend; allegedly, PETN was found in the possession of the Nigerian terrorist who, according to reports, attempted to detonate an explosive device on Northwest Airlines Flight 253.  This flight originated in Amsterdam, and was arriving in Detroit on December 25, 2009, when the individual attempted to detonate the explosive.  The terrorist had sewn the PETN into his underwear to avoid detection by authorities

PETN was introduced as an explosive after World War I.  It is used by itself in detonators and detonating fuses (Primacord) and in a mixture, called pentolite, with an equal amount of trinitrotoluene (TNT) in grenades and projectiles.

PETN is a colourless, crystalline material that is generally stored and shipped as a mixture with water. It is less sensitive than nitroglycerin but is easily detonated. Valued for its shattering force and efficiency, PETN is the least stable of the common military explosives but retains its properties in storage for longer periods than nitroglycerin or cellulose nitrate (nitrocellulose) does. PETN is also used in medicine as a heart stimulant.

In December 2001, PETN was the explosive used by Richard Reid in his unsuccessful attempt to blow up American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami.  In August 2009, PETN was used in an attempt to murder the Saudi Arabian Deputy Minister of Interior by a Saudi suicide-bomber linked to an al Qaeda cell based in Yemen. The target survived.  The bomber died in the blast.  The PETN was sewn into his underwear.

Opportunity for H1N1 Flu Vaccinations in Rosenberg

28 12 2009

Fort Bend County Health & Human Services encourages everyone to protect their families and friends by protecting themselves from H1N1 flu.

“By preventing your own illness, you also protect your loved ones from catching the flu from you,” said Dr. Jean Galloway, director of Fort Bend County Health & Human Services.

H1N1 vaccinations are free to anyone over 6 months of age at any of the scheduled clinics. As more people guard themselves against the flu by getting vaccinated, fewer school and work days will be lost due to illness.

“The more people get their H1N1 vaccinations, the less likely it is that we will have a serious winter wave of flu illness,” said Galloway.

County HHS will be providing vaccinations at the County’s Rosenberg Annex Building, 4520 Reading Road, Rosenberg on December 28, December 29, and December 30.  Times are 8:30 am to 12:00 noon, and also 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

For more information, contact David Wahome, the Public Information Specialist for Health and Human Services at 281-238-3551