Media & News
Steve Birnbaum, President of Resudox Solutions, was appointed to the FEMA NAC in the role of Communications SME. He is one of 15 incoming members appointed by FEMA Administrator Gaynor.
WASHINGTON—Today, FEMA announced that Acting Administrator Pete Gaynor has appointed 15 members to FEMA’s National Advisory Council (NAC).
“Our new members bring incredible expertise to the NAC. Not only do they have intimate knowledge of the historic 2017 and 2018 disaster seasons, but also in-depth subject knowledge on the whole community partnership to help people before, during and after disasters,” Acting Administrator Gaynor said. “I look forward to their input and guidance as we work together to make our nation more resilient to all-hazards.”
[Blog article guest-written by Resudox Solutions President, Steve Birnbaum.]
Effective disaster response requires expertise across a wide range of sectors. How various sectors interact and exchange information can be critical to a positive outcome. Often, each sector having operated within its own domain, has limited visibility into other sectors until reporting out to senior leadership. This often results in excellent work within a narrow “silo” of that domain, but leaves room for improvement in the overall picture, helping the communities impacted by a disaster.
Stop the Bleed, a national awareness and training program, came to the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia (JCCNV) March 6. Stop the Bleed trains bystanders to act in emergencies, including terrorist attacks, active shooter incidents, car accidents, and other emergency situations where the injured can die from blood loss before help arrives.
[Article Co-authored by Steve Birnbaum and IDF Col (res.) Professor Isaac Ashkenazi, MD]
The attack on Jews last weekend in a Pittsburgh, PA synagogue is shocking and horrific. In a particular twist of irony, the tragedy occurred during the celebration of a brit ceremony, the welcoming of a new life into the world. Such attacks, terrible as they are, are not limited to Jewish targets of anti-Semitism. Around the world, names including Mumbai, Paris, San Bernardino, Utoya, and Las Vegas remain associated with the evil that visited them.
The future of Puerto Rico depends on more than simply mending what Maria destroyed. Bloomberg followed an ad hoc crew of volunteers into the hardest hit areas to help those still in need of urgent medical care.
[Steve Birnbaum provided field support to the IHS mission in Puerto Rico.]
Puerto Ricans in the coastal town of Loíza stand in a line that stretches seven blocks, waiting hours for bags of ice and bottles of water. Dirty sewer water floods a canal in the town. At least one person has died from the bacterial disease leptospirosis, most likely from drinking contaminated water. There is no power. Some residents have been without it for 45 days since Hurricane Irma; the rest was knocked out with Hurricane Maria.
This was the scene on 20 October when a disaster response team consisting of staff from Lincoln Laboratory and Infinitum Humanitarian Systems (IHS), supported by the Roddenberry Foundation, visited the town roughly an hour east of San Juan.
Some disasters disappear from headlines before they ever have a chance to be noticed. Others can survive at least one 24-hour news cycle. It is easy to recall the coverage of the Haiti earthquake or Typhoon Haiyan, but Cyclone Pam’s damage to Vanuatu was not as noticed.
The more visible a disaster has been in the media, the easier it can be for humanitarian response organizations and their partners to obtain donated resources to support the response. However, there is a limit to any organization’s ability to help with in-kind or cash donations. The point at which that limit is reached is typically referred to as “donor fatigue.” The global commercial satellite communications and Earth observations industries are not immune to this challenge. Addressing this challenge was one of the objectives that Steve Birnbaum set out to address in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake in 2010.
Roughly half a year after a massive earthquake struck at the heart of Nepal, the country is still trying to recover. The magnitude 7.8 earthquake caused substantial damage to the capital city of Kathmandu, as well as to numerous towns and villages. Though much remains to be done, satellite communications was a vital part of the early response: coordinating supplies, search and rescue, and ultimately saving lives. Via Satellite spoke with two humanitarians who were on the ground about the use of satellite in the days and weeks following the quake. Our first in a two-part series focuses on Steve Birnbaum, humanitarian and disaster response Information and Communication Technology (ICT) consultant, who spent 10 days aiding the recovery.
[Steve Birnbaum, President of Resudox Solutions, deployed as a part of the NetHope response team. NetHope is a member of the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster. Steve is pictured in the article’s photo.]
Imagine if you lost your Internet service. Picture having no email capability or access to Net-based information for days, even weeks. Yikes! How would the loss of the Internet affect your daily work?
But now let’s thicken the plot. Imagine if your job were the emergency feeding of millions of people following a natural disaster. You would need to organize and communicate quickly and effectively with others. At this point the Internet is far more than just a luxury or convenience. Lives depend on it.
[Steve Birnbaum, President of Resudox Solutions, led the 9-person NetHope response team to Vanuatu after Cyclone Pam. NetHope is a member of the UN Emergency Telecommunications Cluster. Steve also served as the UN ETC NGO Coordinator while deployed to Vanuatu.]
Now in week four of the response, satellite phones have been given to the government by the ETC and TSF, and portable satellite terminals have been replaced with more robust equipment in key operational areas. Both experts advisors and equipment from WFP and TSF, as well as, ETC members emergency.lu, Ericsson Response, Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), NetHope and their partner BT are working round-the-clock to support the response. Through its network of partners, the ETC will provide internet connectivity services until commercial and government networks are back online and operating at full service.
In times of crises, the satellite industry is frequently called upon to provide services that no other can give. When humanitarian agencies ask for help, it is up to this industry to provide rescue enabling services as fast as possible.
Perhaps the most baffling manmade tragedy in the wake of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” last Nov. 8 was the untidy government response that helped disjoint rescue and relief work in the battered provinces of the Visayas.
One of the key causes of this episode was the complete failure of communications. The most powerful typhoon on record to have made landfall quickly eliminated the ground-based infrastructure that makes cellular, data and landline communications possible.
[Steve Birnbaum was an inaugural member of the volunteer-based FEMA Innovation Team]
The U.S. White House honored Steve Birnbaum, the Global VSAT Forum (GVF) Chairman of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HA/DR) Programs, for providing expert and innovative assistance that enabled a locally-driven community response through the use of High-Throughput Satellite (HTS) communications during the Hurricane Sandy relief operations and set the stage for more effective disaster preparedness worldwide.
[Steve Birnbaum was an inaugural member of the volunteer-based FEMA Innovation Team]
The White House recognized 17 “hidden heroes” who implemented innovative, collaborative solutions to meet the needs of communities as they worked to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy. The Champions of Change were honored on Wednesday, April 24, for their contributions to the recovery efforts following the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of 2012. The Champions of Change program was created to recognize people “who are doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities,” according to the White House.
[Steve Birnbaum was an inaugural member of the volunteer-based FEMA Innovation Team, under the leadership of former FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino. He was one of 17 people to receive the White House Champions of Change award for Superstorm Sandy for “leadership he demonstrated in his involvement in response and recovery efforts following Hurricane Sandy” as a member of that team.]