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Standards Database: The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) launched the first Homeland Security Standards Database (HSSD) on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security and posted the first sets of standards in June. Those standards all relate to first responder equipment in the following categories: threats; emergency preparedness and response; borders and transportation; and information analysis and infrastructure protection. "The records in the system will be continually updated and additional homeland security standards are in the process of being added," ANSI said when introducing the HSSD. "In the future, this resource will be connected with other homeland security related databases, such as the Responder Knowledge base." Check out the database at„www.hssd.us.

Know What You Have: The Emergency Preparedness Resource Inventory is a new Internet-based software tool that allows planners to assess regional response resources, estimate gaps and make wise resource investment decisions. The tool allows planners to customize the inventory structure to meet their specific needs. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) released this resource May 23. AHRQ also published a technical manual on how to implement and use the system and a separate "implementation report" with an overview of the system and description of lessons learned during pilot testing. Download the Inventory software and supporting documents at„www.ahrq.gov/research/epri.

Public-Health MCIs:Altered Standard of Care in Mass Casualty Events provides guidelines for providing optimal care during a large bioterrorist event or other public health emergency. This new resource from AHRQ came from recommendations developed during an August 2004 meeting of 39 leading experts in bioethics, emergency management, emergency medicine, health administration, health law and policy, and public health. The Department of Health and Human Services convened that meeting to examine how current standards of care might need adjusting to save as many lives as possible during a large medical emergency; identify necessary planning, guidance and tools needed and related issues that must be addressed; and recommend specific actions to help federal, state, community and health-system planners. Download the 53-page report at„www.ahrq.gov/research/altstand.

Hazmat Guide: The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Transport Canada and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation of Mexico worked jointly to develop the latest version the Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG2004), which is revised every four years. ERG2004 is designed primarily to help first responders identify the specific or generic classification of the materials involved and protect themselves and the public. The DOT aims to put a copy of ERG2004 in every first response vehicle in the nation. Download a free copy at„http://hazmat.dot.gov/gydebook.htm.

Rail Safety Plan: The U.S. DOT has released a plan to allow emergency responders greater access to information about hazardous materials being transported through their communities by rail. The plan also aims to give first responders more information about the structure and behavior of railway tankers. The nation's railways transport some 1.7 million hazmat shipments, according to DOT Secretary Norman Mineta, who introduced the plan May 19. As part of the plan, DOT wants the Association of American Railroads to implement a new system that allows first response organizations to download information on train contents from a secure Internet site. Download the plan at„www.fra.dot.gov/downloads/Safety/action_plan_final_051605.pdf.

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