MDERS Steering Committee Members Convene to Elect New Officers and Showcase Response Capabilities

The Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) conducted an in-person Steering Committee meeting to allow stakeholders and staff to reconvene after engaging in numerous virtual forums due to the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this opportunity, MDERS Steering Committee stakeholders elected new chair officers, reviewed innovation fund proposals, and showcased current response capabilities to attendees.

The MDERS Steering Committee serves as a platform for multidisciplinary stakeholders to share ideas, discuss pertinent topics, and provide recommendations on diverse proposals, with the aim of garnering consensus, raising awareness, and securing approval for distinctive public safety capabilities that enhance emergency response operations. Comprised of inter-jurisdictional leadership from fire/rescue/EMS, law enforcement, emergency management, public health, hospital, and regional/state agencies, these partnerships ensure the enhancement of interoperability in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.

Over the past several years, the MDERS Steering Committee has been guided by Chair, Major Charles Magee of Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) and Vice Chair, Assistant Chief Tracy McDonald of Montgomery County Fire Rescue Service (MCFRS), who provided invaluable structure and profound influence during their four-year tenure in these roles.

MDERS and its partners express sincere gratitude to both individuals for their steadfast dedication in navigating unprecedented times marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, financial adjustments, and abnormal work conditions. With the conclusion of their terms, members of the Steering Committee had the opportunity to elect new officers to fulfill the Chair and Vice Chair roles. MDERS congratulates newly appointed Chair MCFRS Assistant Chief Tracy McDonald and Vice Chair PGPD Sergeant Nicholas Fiore on their election.

Following the conclusion of the election, principal stakeholder agencies provided comprehensive presentations showcasing their recently integrated response capabilities. The presentations aimed to highlight specific functions and procedures that contribute to enhancing public safety operations. Each agency demonstrated how these sophisticated tools, designed for managing incidents of varying scales, play a crucial role in preserving lives, reinforcing coordinated responses, elevating training standards, and enhancing productivity during emergencies. The following is a list of the capabilities presented.

Prince George’s County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (OHS/EM)

  • Community Lifeline Application enables users to obtain real-time incident information on assets, services, and capabilities essential to community needs. The lifeline application created by PG OHS/EM to support Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP) gives users access to pertinent topics affecting human health, including safety/security, communication, food/shelter, water systems, energy, and hazardous materials.

Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD)

  • EST Medic LIFEPAK equips tactical medics with the capacity to identify, evaluate, and treat cardiac emergencies. Medics can use the defibrillator to treat unstable cardiac patients and monitor alterations to their vital signs.
  • First Line Supervisors Command Book provides first-line supervisors with the tools and resources to effectively respond to diverse incidents. This guide contains a series of job aids, checklists, and worksheets for high-impact events, including barricaded suspects, bomb threats, active shooters, kidnappings, civil demonstrations, wounded officers, and rescue task force.
  • Public Order Equipment contains full-body protective gear, helmets, and ballistic shields that increase officer safety at the forefront of active violence, mass gatherings, and hazardous materials. When deployed, public order teams wear full body armor covering their legs, arms, torso, and facial area.

Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (MCDHHS)

  • Medical Resource Officer (MRO) Program provides logistical, medical, and other critical functions to support response efforts to public health crises. The MRO oversees the Medical Reserve Corp (MRC) administration and coordination to reinforce response efforts to public health events.

Montgomery County Fire Rescue Services (MCFRS)

  • PerSim software can simulate various medical emergencies to enhance training opportunities for first responders. Participants wear a headset that produces a 3-D holographic patient overlaid on a training manikin. Participants can initiate and perform medical procedures through the simulated emergency, prompting them to assess the situation and apply life-saving techniques imperative for resolving real-world incidents.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) and Prince George’s County Fire Department (PGFD)

  • Leader Search Bluetooth Listening sensor allows structural collapse teams to listen for trapped victims and detect those in confined spaces to enhance search and rescue efforts during a structural collapse incident.
  • Paratech Rescue Guardian system monitors structural changes to a collapsed building and gathers on-scene intelligence to alert fire personnel of sudden shifts. The system provides instantaneous notification upon sensing building alterations to allow fire personnel to exit the compromised structure before a potential secondary collapse and reevaluate the scene to adjust the device accordingly.

Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD)

  • ICOR Robots contribute to reducing potential threats to officer safety due to the ability to operate from a safe distance and reach vulnerable positions that do not expose officers to hazardous conditions. These robots contain cameras and audio systems that capture on-scene intelligence for decision-making while allowing law enforcement personnel to communicate with individuals.

Holy Cross Hospital

  • Healthcare Capabilities revolve around response and preparedness necessary to support personnel in providing optimal patient care. Hospital systems improved emergency response to active threat events by obtaining a transport truck to mobilize mass casualty incident supplies. The super duty box truck ensures medical cache movement and replenishment of critical supplies to healthcare facilities experiencing an acute surge. In addition, hospitals have enhanced their preparedness for mass casualty incidents associated with hazardous materials through procuring Zumro decontamination shelter systems. These efforts have been imperative to recover quickly from all-hazard events and maintain the quality of medical treatment operations.

Members of the Steering Committee uphold distinctive public safety initiatives that reinforce their overall response procedures, plans, and policies to achieve departmental objectives. MDERS will continue to serve as the single point of collaboration between all disciplines involved in emergency response to integrate capabilities to provide superior service to residents in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.

Impacts of AI on Public Safety and the Homeland Security Enterprise | Threats and Challenges

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to change the world for the better, but it is not without risk. The director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Jen Easterly, provided an assessment of AI that recognized it’s potential to be the “most powerful capability of our time” while highlighting its equal potential to be the “most powerful weapon of our time” during a May 2023 security summit at Vanderbilt University (Vasquez, 2023). This characterization of AI by one of the nation’s top cyber experts as not just a weapon, but the “most” powerful weapon of our time speaks to the endless potential for threat actors to utilize AI to harm life and property. This article is the second in a three-part series on artificial intelligence from the Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) that will explore a few emerging threats posed by AI.

Generative AI, a form of narrow AI, is the focus of a large portion of the concern with narrow AI. Narrow AI is any artificial intelligence that has been trained or developed to perform specific tasks or analyses (IBM, 2023). Generative AI is AI that can create numerous forms of content, from images to computer code to human voices. AI created media is commonly referred to as a “deepfake”, and while earlier versions of deepfakes were riddled with errors, as the technology advances, so does the quality of deepfake media. For example, in April of 2023, a song titled, “Heart on My Sleeve” showed up online supposedly written and performed by popular musicians Drake and The Weeknd. The song was so similar to the style and vocals of the two artists that their music label had to make statements that they did not release new songs (Coscarelli, 2023).

The ability of AI to mimic well known voices could be utilized by threat actors to create audio bites of politicians or world leaders (Allen, 2023). ChatGPT, a form of generative AI that was discussed in the previous article, recognizes the concerns homeland security leaders have with AI. When prompted to respond to questions regarding the cybersecurity concerns of AI, ChatGPT provided numerous responses that included recognition of the potential for deepfakes to spread disinformation or even impersonate individuals (Steed, 2023).

Considering the possible concerns that generative AI will be used by threat actors to develop computer code or change existing malware, this capability can generate a damaging impact in the digital realm. During the same summit at Vanderbilt, Easterly also raised concerns that generative AI could provide instructions to terrorists for developing chemical and bioweapons (Steed, 2023).

The advances in AI pose significant risks and threats to numerous fields. Fortunately, there is ongoing research on how to use AI to counter these sophisticated threats to create opportunities for the betterment of society. The next and final article in this series will cover promising beneficial uses for artificial intelligence by the homeland security and public safety industry.

Answer to the Previous Article: The second to last paragraph of the previous article on artificial intelligence was written with the assistance of ChatGPT.


Allen, G. (2023, September 19). Advanced Technology: Examining Threats to National Security. Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Coscarelli, J. (2023, April 24). An A.I. Hit of Fake “Drake” and “The Weeknd” Rattles the Music World. New York Times

IBM. (2023). What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? IBM.

Steed, M. (2023, August 23). Responsible AI: The Solution To Generative AI’s Threats. Forbes.

Vasquez, C. (2023, May 5). Top US cyber official warns AI may be the ‘most powerful weapon of our time.’ CYBERSCOOP.


PGPD Rescue Task Force Train to Enhance Response Operations for Active Violence Ind

Over the last year, the Maryland-National Capital Emergency Response System (MDERS) has supported the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) and Prince George’s County Fire Department (PGFD) in their effort to integrate response capabilities for active violence incidents. The cohesion between PGPD and PGFD has created a Rescue Task Force designed to enable medical care to victims near a threat while maintaining a robust security posture. MDERS has supported this initiative with personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders. The totality of this effort will enhance response efforts to active violence incidents in Prince George’s County.

An active violence incident involves an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area (Northwestern University, 2023). These incidents are often dynamic and can evolve rapidly, demanding immediate action from law enforcement and fire/rescue/EMS resources. During an active violence incident, fire/rescue/EMS providers are often faced with the issue of waiting for victims to be extracted from warm and hot zones, prior to beginning medical care. The delay of medical intervention can be fatal for victims confined in these zones.

The urgency to remove and treat victims requires a unified response from law enforcement and fire/rescue/EMS personnel. Nationally, Rescue Task Force (RTF) training has been established to create this unity amongst disciplines to create a cohesive extrication of victims in life-threating circumstances, leading to the Prince George’s County Police and Fire Department recently adopting this practice.

The Rescue Task Force training empowers Prince George’s County first responders in active violence situations by creating realistic scenarios to build structure and confidence. MDERS staff visited PGPD’s state-of-the-art training facility during their police in-service RTF training to observe the session. Establishing command, mitigating threats, and organizing casualty collection points (CCP) are all key components in RTF training and require teamwork from all personnel on scene. MDERS observed the ability of 45 participants, including 10 fire/rescue/EMS present and 35 police officers, in back-to-back scenarios to maintain focus and agility in rescue operations while being met with obstacles and learning to overcome strenuous conditions. The operational coordination that is required to assess the situation and plan for action was proven throughout these exercises by each department.

MDERS Acting Co-Director, and Deputy Director of Finance & Administration, Lauren Collins expressed the following:

  • “I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing the collaborative efforts of Prince George’s County Police and Fire/EMS departments as they joined forces to engage in comprehensive Rescue Task Force (RTF) training. The dedication and substantial investments made by the Maryland Emergency Response System (MDERS) in the RTF program were unmistakably evident throughout this training session, and it was gratifying to see these endeavors manifest into a successful reality.”

In an effort to enhance preparedness, MDERS assisted PGPD with procuring tactical vests and a variety of ballistic protection equipment for PGFD. The acquired ballistic protection allows fire/rescue/EMS personnel the ability to deploy inside warm zones to treat and extract potentially critical patients while protecting providers from injury. Medical supplies can also be attached to tactical vests for easy access to essential medical supplies. The PPE allows first responders to execute their mission more safely in dangerous situations.

Active violence incidents are a growing threat to the Maryland-National Capital Region that involves the interoperability of police, fire, rescue, and EMS personnel to increase the response effectiveness to mass causality incidents. The RTF training is an indispensable resource for Prince George’s County, structuring first responders to work as a unified team.


Active violence: Emergency management – Northwestern University. Active Violence: Emergency Management – Northwestern University. (2023). Retrieved from,a%20vehicle%20into%20a%20crowd

MDERS Fiscal Year 2020 – An Overview

The Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) recently finalized their annual report for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20). The period of performance for this cycle spanned from June 1, 2021, through May 31, 2022. During this period, the MDERS Fiscal Year 2020 – 2022 Strategic Plan served as a road map for carrying out the development and enhancement of capabilities through the execution of training and exercises. In FY20, MDERS in collaboration with stakeholder partners, continued its mission of developing and further enhancing response capabilities for law enforcement, fire/rescue/EMS, public health, emergency management, and the hospital systems in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. Those capabilities include:

 Training and Exercise Program

  • MDERS supported diverse training and exercise opportunities for stakeholders to collectively strengthen their response operations. MDERS sponsored 37 trainings for 565 total participants, planned and executed a Full-Scale Exercise (FSE) for Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) with 98 participants, planned and executed several tabletop exercises for Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) and PGPD with 58 participants from MCPD and 23 participants from PGPD. These trainings and exercises have enhanced the MDERS stakeholder partners’ collective preparedness and response capabilities, thereby ensuring the safety and security of our first responders and the communities they serve.

Ballistic Protection for Fire, Rescue, and EMS

  • MDERS assisted Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department (PGFD) in outfitting their providers who are deployed into hot, warm, and cold zones with personal protective equipment (PPE). PGFD providers were equipped with ballistic body armor, vest-mounted medical supplies, ballistic eye and face protection, and ballistic plate carries.

Incident Command Tools

  • MDERS focused on advancing the use of the incident command structure among Montgomery County Fire and Rescue (MCFRS), PGFD, and PGPD to minimize threats to public safety. For instance, MDERS supported the enhancement of incident command competency to better prepare frontline supervisors and command-level officers, building confidence in their decision-making. This was achieved through the development of static and dynamic immersive simulation training environments, acquisition of virtual reality (VR) tools, and the creation of command guidebooks. All PGPD command-level personnel were provided command guidebooks to serve as a resource when establishing command during an incident.

Emergency Management Support

  • MDERS supported Prince George’s County Office of Homeland Security Emergency Management (PG OHS/EM) with their planning, training and exercise support program, response and recovery training program, and volunteer and donations management program. This funding strengthened various aspects of emergency management efforts, including community engagement, emergency preparedness, and medical training for personnel and civilians. Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management Homeland Security (MC OEMHS) also received funding for their emergency management support for planning, training, and exercise support, as well as volunteers and donations management. This funding supported increased preparedness training, a full-scale exercise for MC OEMHS’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and community engagement events.

Emerging Homeland Security Technology Pilot

To identify new opportunities for advanced response, MDERS allocated funding  to evaluate and procure innovative equipment aimed at addressing evolving threats. During FY20, the acquired technologies and equipment helped enhance training for mass casualty triage, search and rescue, and situational awareness. First responders can sharpen their skill sets while implementing these innovations during response operations. The procured the technologies and equipment include:

  • Augmented Training Systems (ATS) Virtual Reality Platforms: Allow responders to experience and train for a large flow of patients suffering from a diverse set of injuries.
  • PerSim: Participants wear a headset that produces a 3-D holographic patient that is overlaid on a training manikin.
  • Leader Search Bluetooth: Enable structural collapse teams to listen for trapped victims during a response.
  • Vehicle Mounted Camera: Stream real-time footage of an incident scene back to the incident command post.
  • Smartboard: Allow supervisors to use multiple platforms to monitor resource deployment and increase on-scene situational awareness.
  • Manikins: Support in replicating an actual person during training events.

Mass Casualty Incident Supplies Transport Truck

  • MDERS in partnership with Holy Cross Hospital System procured a Ford F-650 Super Duty Box Truck to expedite the retrieval and distribution of critical medical supplies during acute surge events in the Maryland-National Capital Region. This transport truck has enhanced accessibility, deployment, and storage of medical consumables for MDERS hospital stakeholders, thus improving regional healthcare response efforts.

Medical Resource Officer

  • To bolster public health operations, MDERS continued to fund essential roles within Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (MC DHHS) and Prince George’s County Health Department (PGHD). The Medical Resource Officer (MRO) position provides logistical, medical, and other critical functions to support response efforts to public health crises. In FY20, the MRC for MC DHHS participated in community engagement activities and vaccination clinics to educate the public on the COVID-19 vaccines. The MRO for PGHD used their resources to furnish COVID-19 testing kits to the public and increase their volunteer operations to serve vulnerable community members from diverse backgrounds.

Public Access Trauma Care

  • MDERS supported the Public Access Trauma Care (PATC) program with additional supplies to expand the capability within Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. MDERS procured 85 training kits for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), which include 15 tourniquets, 15 elastic bandages, 15 gauze bandages, 15 two-pack chest seal trainers, ten wound cube simulators, three emergency trauma dressings, cloth tape, quick litter, two emergency blankets, two shears, two-pack chest seals, two rolls of compressed gauze, two pairs of medical gloves, two sharpies markers, two mini duct tape rolls, and a sealed PATC kit.

Law Enforcement Special Events Response Cache

  • In FY20, MDERS procured 85 special event personal protective equipment (PPE) kits for officers. The kits increase the safety of officers during deployments for active violence and/or public order incidents. Each kit contains full-body protective equipment, helmets, and ballistic shields. In addition to the kits, MDERS supported the participation of MCPD and PGPD in the Civil Disturbance Unit (CDU) Level 1 Training to ensure officers carry out appropriate response procedures and enhance their skillsets on maintaining public safety.

Tactical Equipment for Law Enforcement

  • The tactical equipment for MCPD and PGPD included several types of innovative and advanced equipment. MCPD and PGPD received thermal monocular, night vision goggles, ballistic shields, ICOR Robots, Iris Robots, training supplies, ballistic plates, and tactical cold weather gear. During response operations, MCPD and PGPD use the tactical equipment to increase situational awareness and ensure officer safety.

Fiscal Year 2020 afforded MDERS, and its stakeholder partners the ability to further its mission of building and enhancing response capabilities within Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.  In the coming fiscal years, MDERS will continue to support its stakeholders and the communities they serve through planning, organizing, equipment acquisition, training and exercising. For more information about FY20 or any of the projects listed above, please contact MDERS by email at

Public Access Trauma Care (PATC) Instruction Cards and Posters

The Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) has taken a proactive approach to enhancing public safety through the development of informative instruction cards and posters under the Public Access Trauma Care (PATC) program. With a commitment to equipping the community, MDERS has successfully distributed 10,000 instruction cards and 1,000 posters to dedicated partners across Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. These invaluable resources deliver clear, step-by-step guidance on fundamental life-saving medical techniques, empowering individuals to administer crucial aid to victims grappling with life-threatening bleeding, penetrating trauma, hypothermia, and other severe injuries. By bridging the gap between emergencies and professional medical assistance, creating and disseminating these instructional materials significantly amplify individual preparedness to offer timely, life-saving medical interventions.

As part of the PATC program, medical supplies have been strategically placed in public schools and government buildings throughout the Maryland-National Capital Region (MD-NCR). For those supplies to be effectively utilized, individuals must be able to identify injury patterns and render appropriate aid. MDERS has developed training videos a mobile application and worked closely with regional partners to expand training opportunities related to PATC. However, MDERS staff identified a need for accessible materials that individuals can easily reference.

MDERS determined that instruction cards and posters will allow individuals to review PATC skills in a quick and efficient manner. Working closely with an outside vendor, the MDERS team developed and finalized these materials to distill the needed information into simple instructions supported with detailed illustrations. The foldable instruction cards contain instructions and illustrations on how to apply a chest seal, apply direct pressure, apply a tourniquet, pack a wound, and prevent shock. The posters provide the same information but also include a section on what individuals should do in an emergency situation. Introducing these materials to the public will add an outlet for individuals to learn about and practice PATC skills.

Within the last month, the following entities have received instruction cards and posters:

  • Montgomery College (200 instruction cards and 20 posters)
  • Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (500 instruction cards and 50 posters)
  • Montgomery County Public Schools (4,000 instruction cards and 400 posters)
  • Prince George’s County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (500 instruction cards and 50 posters)
  • Prince George’s County Public Schools (4,000 instruction cards and 400 posters)
  • The Universities at Shady Grove (100 instruction cards and 10 posters)
  • The University of Maryland Global Campus (50 instruction cards and 10 posters)

***MDERS has the remaining materials for training and potential delivery to other stakeholders.
Distribution and placement of these educational materials will increase awareness of the PATC program and provide readers with invaluable information to review and implement during an emergency. For more information about the PATC program, please visit or email

Impacts of AI on Public Safety and the Homeland Security Enterprise | What is Artificial Intelligence?

Over the past few months, artificial intelligence (AI) has become one of the biggest topics of discussions in multiple fields. From homeland security to education, to even Hollywood and the music industry, AI is changing the world for better and worse. But what is artificial intelligence, and how can we utilize it in emergency management and public safety? This article is the first in a three-part series on artificial intelligence from the Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) that will dive into the basics of AI to include a definition of AI, the two main types of AI, and a brief overview of ChatGPT.

The International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) defines artificial intelligence in its simplest form as “a field which combines computer science and robust datasets to enable problem-solving” that also “encompasses [the] sub-fields of machine learning and deep learning, which are frequently mentioned in conjunction with artificial intelligence” (IBM, 2023). Artificial intelligence is taking data and placing it into a system to solve complex problems, analyze and interpret the inputs, and generate models. IBM’s famous Watson[1] is an example of artificial intelligence.

There are two different types of artificial intelligence, weak AI and strong AI. Weak AI, also called “Narrow AI,” is any artificial intelligence that has been trained or developed to perform specific tasks or analyses. Narrow AI has been prominent in our everyday lives for a long time in applications not recognized as artificial intelligence, such as Siri and Alexa. These applications are also why “Narrow AI” is sometimes the preferred term, as the scope of what these systems can do is not considered “weak.” Narrow AI can produce various types of content beyond analyzing data, such as photos, videos, and audio (IBM, 2023).

Strong AI consists of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI), both of which remain theoretical. AGI would occur if a machine had the intelligence of a human and was self-aware, and ASI would occur when a machine becomes smarter than a human (IBM, 2023).

A recently popular publicly accessible AI is ChatGPT. ChatGPT is a form of narrow AI that utilizes deep learning models to “learn” from inputs (someone teaching it something or giving it data) and generate probable outputs. It was designed to engage in conversational interactions and leverage a vast amount of textual data to generate coherent and contextually relevant responses. ChatGPT is also easily accessible to users, requiring only an email address and phone number to create a free account.

The advances in artificial intelligence have created new opportunities for innovation, adaptation, and optimization but have also brought risks and threats to various fields. The next article in this series will cover some of the threats and challenges faced by the homeland security and public safety industry regarding artificial intelligence.

Bonus: Can you determine which paragraph of this article was written with the help of ChatGPT? The answer will be in the next article on artificial intelligence.


IBM. (2023). What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? IBM.


MDERS Welcomes Emergency Response Specialist, Olivia Napoli

The Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) is excited to announce that Olivia Napoli has joined our team as an Emergency Response Specialist. In this role she will serve under the Operational Support Directorate, supporting training, exercise, and planning efforts in close coordination with MDERS’s stakeholders.

Olivia joins the MDERS team after serving as the Acting Logistics Branch Chief and Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Program Manager & Resource & Logistics Section Leader of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. In these roles she had various roles including supervising all logistical operations of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, developing and maintaining the agency’s response plan and procedures, and leading response efforts to a volcano eruption. Before this, she worked at the Alaska Department of Revenue and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. Olivia holds a Bachelor of Art in Business Administration from the University of Alaska Southeast.

The MDERS team is happy to welcome Olivia and use her expertise in emergency management to advance the development of our stakeholder’s capabilities.

MDERS Welcomes, Emergency Response Specialist, Elizabeth Adams

The Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) is pleased to announce that Elizabeth Adams has joined our team as an Emergency Response Specialist. In this role she will serve under the Operational Support Directorate, supporting training, exercise, and planning efforts in close coordination with MDERS’s stakeholders.

Elizabeth joins the MDERS team after serving as an Emergency Management Specialist for the City of Bowie. Her work for Bowie included aiding in the creation and drafting of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Position Task Books, 2022-2023 Integrated Preparedness Plan, and various Emergency Action Plans. Elizabeth also collaborated with local partners to create exercises and training initiatives to prepare for emergency situations.

Before this, Elizabeth was an Emergency Dispatcher and Emergency Call Taker for Prince George’s County. Elizabeth has a B.A. in Criminal Justice from The University of Nevada Reno and a M.S. in Emergency Management from The University of Maryland Global Campus.

The MDERS team is happy to welcome Elizabeth and use her expertise in emergency management to advance the development of our stakeholder’s capabilities.

MDERS Welcomes Emergency Response Specialist, Katie Weber

The Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) is thrilled to announce that Katie Weber has joined our team as an Emergency Response Specialist. In this role she will serve under the Operational Support Directorate, supporting training, exercise, and planning efforts in close coordination with MDERS’s stakeholders.

Katie joins the MDERS team after serving as an Emergency Management Specialist for Anne Arundel County. In this position she led the redrafting of Anne Arundel County’s Evacuation Plan, facilitated Baltimore’s Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) workgroup, and had an integral role in maintaining the readiness of Anne Arundel’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Before this role, Katie has held numerous positions in the emergency management field in private and public settings. Additionally, Katie serves as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) for the Bethesda Chevy Chase Rescue Squad. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Michigan and a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security Emergency Preparedness and Response from the George Washington University.

The MDERS team is happy to welcome Katie and use her expertise in emergency management to advance the development of our stakeholder’s capabilities.

MDERS and Public Safety Stakeholders Earn the Response Project of the Year Award

The Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) accepted the 2023 Response Project of the Year Award for the small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) program on behalf of the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD), Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS), and Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS). This award was received at the Maryland Emergency Management Association (MDEMA) Symposium recognizing the effective deployment of the sUAS capability to enhance rescue operations.

Over the past four years, MCPD, MCFRS, and OEMHS have partnered with MDERS to develop, utilize, and expand their sUAS capabilities. By focusing on improving information gathering and situational awareness, MDERS and Montgomery County public safety agencies collaborated to establish a systematic framework that provided the planning, training, and equipment imperative to bolstering emergency response procedures. The capabilities of sUAS aid in capturing essential information and maintaining shared situational awareness among public safety agencies to formulate appropriate response measures in evolving environments.

As an illustration, the explosion and fire occurring at the Friendly Garden Apartments on Lyttonsville Road in Silver Spring, MD, exhibits the value of sUAS capabilities in emergency response operations. MCPD and MCFRS utilized their sUAS platforms to identify structural damages, locate victims, and determine critical locations within the apartment complex. Implementing sUAS capabilities minimized the risk of injury to first responders upon entering the collapsed structure to engage in fire suppression activities. MCPD, in collaboration with MCFRS, shared a live-stream view of the incident scene that strengthened their ability to devise rescue strategies, conduct a damage assessment, and investigate the cause of the fire.

Members of MDEMA recognized that the sUAS capability enhanced the overall response operations of Montgomery County public safety agencies by managing the detrimental effects of the Lyttonsville Road explosion and fire incident. Thus, the sUAS capability was awarded  MDEMA’s Response Project of the Year because of the advantages provided to public safety.

The following are remarks from all stakeholders involved in the success of the sUAS capability:

Senior Emergency Response Specialist Hannah Thomas, MDERS 

  • “It was an honor to accept this award on behalf of the Montgomery County public safety agencies. I have enjoyed working with these agencies throughout the past two years on developing their sUAS programs. The Montgomery County public safety agencies’ work with their sUAS technology is inspiring. I was honored to accept this award on their behalf.”

Lieutenant Victor Galladora, MCPD

  • “One big takeaway for me from this was how important the work group was leading up to this incident. Working together with Chief Hinkle (and Fire/Rescue in general) prior to the explosion was a major advantage. Knowing this was a major incident, we responded with the sUAS capability. Upon checking in with Chief Hinkle the day of the incident, he was already well aware of our capabilities, personnel and equipment. He immediately approved the sUAS operation, which I am not sure would have happened without the work group and prior coordination.”

Captain Shelley Wheeler, MCFRS

  • “The biggest takeaway is the importance of collaboration and teamwork. Thanks to the relationship between MDERS, MCFRS, and MCPD, we gained an invaluable resource to help with planning the best way to approach a complicated situation in a manner that led to an efficient, effective response that involved multiple agencies working together.”

Mitchell Dinowitz, OEMHS

  • “The use of the sUAS for the Lyttonsville building explosion was crucial to allow the command team to make real-time decisions and direct tactical resources. The use of streaming software, that was able to be purchased through the ERS mechanism, made the transmission of the situational awareness from the incident to the command post and other county public safety leaders that needed to view this information possible.  Since this incident, additional agencies (beyond police) have been able to acquire this streaming software to stream live incidents into the incident command posts, or the Emergency Operations Center. The collaboration of this workgroup and its partners has led to a close-knit team which can call upon each other’s resources and experiences with each respective sUAS project to help each agency move forward.”

MDERS is proud to work with Montgomery County public safety agencies to improve various response capabilities in the National-Capital Region (NCR). More importantly, MDERS looks forward to further expanding the sUAS capability in Montgomery County in preparation for future complex incidents.