We at the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) are incredibly proud to help protect the protectors—assessing vulnerabilities, improving processes, and developing new capabilities for our nation’s first responders. We work with state, local, tribal, and territorial agencies across our nation to make their jobs safer, easier, and more effective. We are honored to be research and development (R&D) backup for the firefighters, paramedics, police officers, bomb squad technicians, emergency managers and others who put their lives on the line to safeguard our communities day in and day out.
I’m excited to announce that in addition to our many ongoing R&D efforts related to first responders and disaster resilience, several recent events have shone a spotlight on S&T support for these brave individuals.
“Equipping our Everyday Heroes” Museum Exhibit
A new exhibit, Equipping our Everyday Heroes, opened today at the National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada. This Smithsonian-affiliated institution was previously home to our Battling the Invisible Enemy exhibit, which featured vital S&T COVID-19 response support. The new exhibit focuses on S&T support for first responders. It includes a large multimedia installation detailing various projects and programs that promote preparedness and safety, as well display cases filled with innovative devices and mannequins outfitted with advanced gear—all of which were made possible by S&T. For those not in the Las Vegas area, don’t fret! We have created a complementary virtual exhibit on our website where you can learn all about efforts like POINTER, S&T’s support for wildland firefighters and bomb squads, and much more.
Virtual First Responder Capitol Hill Showcase
We hosted a Virtual First Responder Capitol Hill Showcase last week to share word about how S&T’s R&D agenda is meeting the current and emerging threats that our nation’s first responders, and the communities they protect, are facing. The event kicked off with keynote remarks from Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation Subcommittee, and I followed with some personal perspective on our robust investments in responder technologies. Attendees then heard directly from S&T experts and first responders themselves on everything from opioid detection to countering unmanned aircraft systems, smart sensors for flood and wildfire mitigation, and more. Check out the event agenda and on-demand content on our showcase hub.
Small Business Innovation Research Showcase for First Responders
Finally, we hosted a virtual Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Showcase for First Responders on March 30. The webinar highlighted new technologies being developed by SBIR awardees to keep first responders, emergency managers, and incident commanders better protected, connected, and prepared to safeguard the homeland and respond to disasters. Learn more about the program and our related industry engagement on our SBIR program page.
Each of these events represent our vast respect and admiration for the uniformed individuals dedicated to helping others in times of need. I hope this peek into our work for—and with—responders helps foster further appreciation for all that goes into emergency response. It takes a whole lot of preparation to be ready when duty calls, and S&T will continue to help responders gear up to save lives. You can learn more about S&T R&D in support of first responders and disaster resilience on our website.