Kopis Mobile Supports USBTA Exercise

USBTA Logo

The United States Bomb Technician Association (USBTA) was formed by current and former Public Safety and Military Bomb Technicians who strongly believe that training with and learning from each other is vital in today’s world where the use of Improvised Explosive Devices are being used to cause harm and destroy property.

The primary focus is to give manufacturers the opportunity, in a training environment, to display/demo current and future technologies in  task oriented exercises for Public Safety and Military Bomb Technicians.

Improvised Explosive Devices in the U.S. are more prevalent than one may think. According to a 2016 report from the U.S. Bomb Data Center, from January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016, the Bomb Arson Tracking System (BATS) captured a total of 15,943 explosives related incidents. Of the reported incidents, there were 699 explosions of which 439 were bombings, with California and Florida having the highest numbers. There were a total of 6,879 recoveries reported in 2016, with the majority being explosives (non-improvised explosive devices (IEDs)). There were a total of 6,061 suspicious/unattended package incidents, which is up by 27 percent.

Following previous years’ reporting, there has continued to be a slight decrease in the overall numbers of bomb threats reported. There were 1,693 bomb threats reported in 2014, 1,670 in 2015, and 1,537 in 2016. Education and office/business properties remain the most commonly reported targets of bomb threats; however, the overall numbers of bomb threats to both have decreased since 2015.

As you can guess, bomb technicians are pretty important folks. Two weeks ago, Kopis Mobile supported the USBTA’s Operation Inland Empire in Temecula, CA.

This was far better than most trade shows we have attended in the past because it wasn’t in a typical trade show environment. There was no standing inside of a convention center all day, eating crappy convention center food, talking to people who really don’t care about your products. All they really want is whatever you are handing out for free. It doesn’t matter if it is candy, pens, stickers or 50 cent key chain flash lights, if it is free, they will take it.

First of all, the entire event was outside and the weather was perfect. Second, the attending bomb technicians were divided into groups then rotated through stations. Each station had a different vendor’s equipment for the techs to try in a semi-realistic scenario.

USBTA NTtv Support

We had several NTtv systems set up around the area to provide real time video of the equipment being used. The techs could also try out robots, drones, bomb suits, and different x-ray devices. One of the interesting things we discovered, NTtv was not effected by the radios that were associated with the robots.

Without getting too technical, the radios were pumping out 15 watts of power. That was enough to disrupt the communications of every other product anywhere near the robot’s antennae except for ours. This was a great data point for us and proved the reliability of the system in that type of radio environment.

All in all, the USBTA coordinators put on a great event. This was only the second time they have done something like it. The next one will be in Orlando this coming December. Kopis will be there to support those that keep us safe!

Video Does Not Lie But It Does Improve Performance

SHOT Show 2018
SHOT Show – New Product Section

We recently wrapped up the 40th anniversary of the SHOT Show in Las Vegas. It was probably won of our best trade shows to date since we have been in business. Our focus product for the show was NTtv and how video greatly improves performance.

I spoke to many people during the week who either conduct training or own a firearms facility of some type. I was blown away by the fact almost none of them utilize video as a way to improve the performance of their students. Let’s dig into this training subject a little deeper.

Subjective: “reality as perceived – rather than as independent of mind.”

What does this really mean? When something like an observation of an event is viewed in a subjective way, it is based inside of an individual’s brain.  Things like life experiences, memories, personal biases and prejudices all command the subjective view.

To get even more crazy scientific on you, when a person looks at something in a subjective way, they see it as perceived reality instead of reality itself. The bottom line is a subjective observation can change wildly from person to person.

Now, let’s look at the opposite of subjective.

Objective: “the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers.”

The real meaning of this is pretty simple. This type of observation starts and happens outside the mind of any specific person. In this instance, the action is observable by any other individual looking at the same situation. In order for this to happen, all subjective biases have to be removed.

I am sure you are wondering what point I am trying to make. If you are reading this blog, you have probably done some type of structure clearance. It could have been a few rooms, a small house or an entire abandoned mental hospital (they are pretty creepy, by the way).

I am willing to bet many of you have had a lane grader, training cell or whatever your particular service calls them, tell you at the end of the run, “You went left instead of right in that room, on the fourth floor, at the end of the hallway, two rooms deep with the chair in it.”

Oh, and you aren’t the only one they have comments about. It makes you think there is no way in Hell they know what every single person in the stack did on a ten-minute run.

I actually knew some guys in training cell that could remember just about every single thing a guy did on a run, but I can guarantee you that it isn’t the norm.

The reason I bring all of this up is to prove the point that subjective evaluation lends itself to rely on memory and what an individual thought they saw. Objective evaluation is concrete, unbiased, and based on what really happened. The best example of an objective review tool is video. We all know pictures and video don’t lie.

Video review is a very useful tool. If it is used in a targeted manner at the right times, it allows a person to build a mental model of the correct skill. Watching video is a proven way to enhance the skill learning process.

Unfortunately, the video analysis of a training event doesn’t happen until the end of the day or even the following day. Immediate review can provide a person with the opportunity to improve a skill or technique by the very next training iteration – in a matter of minutes.

Video is saved for anytime use or evaluation to review the progress of individual skills. Video recordings reveal improvements or losses in one’s performance over time. It also is an invaluable tool in the diagnosis of a unit’s overall training program. Finally, it  shows new members of a unit the performance of veteran, top performers by providing them a solid baseline in which to begin training.

Sports coaches are utilizing immediate video evaluation more and more to critique the performance of athletes at every level. Traditionally, the feedback process has been based upon a coach’s subjective observation of performance, which can be influenced by bias, emotion and previous experiences (Hughes and Bartlett, 2008).

For example, a football coach’s subjective observation process is known to be unreliable and inaccurate, since even experienced coaches have been shown to be able to recall just 59.2% of the critical events occurring during 45 minutes of football performance (Laird and Waters, 2008).

This lack of accurate recall ability can lead to ‘highlighting’, where a coach’s perception of performance becomes distorted by those events that they can remember (Hughes and Bartlett, 2008). Ultimately, this results in inaccurate coaching feedback and decision-making, which can be improved with the use of objective, unbiased and comprehensive information performance analysis that video is capable of providing (James, 2006; Hughes and Bartlett, 2008).

A few years ago, we participated in a military exercise and had the opportunity to interview some special operators. They told our engineers they were using action cameras on operations and had no way of sharing what they were seeing with other squad members. The operators already had the cameras and were issued some type of smart device, but they couldn’t understand why there wasn’t an easy way for the two talk to each other.

We iterated extensively with these and other operators to develop a solution to greatly improve overall situational awareness. This solution is called Networked Tactical Television or NTtv.

Networked Tactical Television or NTtv
NTtv System

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The system provides the on scene commander real time video of operations. This results in far better situation awareness than just describing what is going on over a radio. NTtv is an invaluable training tool that allows trainers to set the system up in any location to capture the actions of trainees.

NTtv now also includes a multiple video DVR (mvDVR) feature that adds the ability to instantly review multiple synchronized camera views of the same action without having to go through hours of recorded video to find what you are really looking for. This vastly speeds up the after-action review process and provides immediate feedback using video angles that matter for each training evolution.

mvDVR
mvDVR

There is a very good reason why video is used to improve performance. That’s because it works and it is almost immediate. You can’t correct what you can’t see.

Opioids, The New Hazardous Material

Opioids are everywhere

In our continuing effort to post information about what are first responders are doing and what they have to face, I wanted put this out about opioids. This is an ever growing problem in this country.

It is amazing how bad the abuse of opioids have become. They are to easily prescribed and to accessible.

The following is an article from the Eagle-Tribune:

LAWRENCE, Mass. —The discovery of three men who overdosed on illicit drugs in a Garden Street home earlier this month triggered an intense response from firefighters specially trained in handling hazardous-material incidents.

Backed by local police, firefighters and paramedics, the investigation exceeded six hours and carried an estimated price tag of $75,000. Testing revealed the three men had overdosed, two of them fatally, on a mixture of cocaine and fentanyl, a man-made opioid 50 times stronger than morphine.

In the wake of the overdoses, and the public response that followed, Fire Chief Brian Moriarty is asking for some guidance at the state level.

Going forward, Moriarty said he thinks firefighters need standards and protocols to follow when they handle overdoses that may involve highly toxic substances. The fear on Garden Street that morning was the men had overdosed on either fentanyl or carfentanil, an even stronger man-made opioid that can be toxic to someone merely in its presence.

“I definitely think this needs to be reviewed… It’s always safer to have an abundance of caution than to ignore it. But we need to work on the future of how we are going to handle this,” Moriarty said.

He explained that for years firefighters have used universal precautions—gloves, masks and eye goggles—when they respond to medical aid calls, including reports of overdoses.

Now, when are those universal precautions sufficient? he asked.

“We need more education and training,” said Moriarty, who contacted the state’s Division of Fire Services and the state fire marshal. He said state officials were receptive to his request and planned to discuss the matter further.

Current policy calls for police and fire chiefs to weigh the necessity of a heightened overdose response and then notify the state if specialized services, such as a hazmat team or bomb squad, are needed, according to James DeSimone, spokesman for the state’s Division of Fire Services.

“Basically, it’s case by case on the local level. They made the decision if they feel they need our services… We are not responding to every overdose,” DeSimone said.

At 6 a.m., Monday, July 17, rescuers responded to a two-family home at 194 Garden St. after the homeowner called police to report cocaine he ingested may have been laced with “carfentanil,” Fitzpatrick said.

Officers arrived to find two men dead and the survivor, Jorge Contreras, 33, in need of immediate medical treatment.

Fitzpatrick said Contreras told police he “thought it was straight cocaine.”

“He said, ‘I took it and I knew something was wrong because I was getting all groggy,'” Fitzpatrick said. “He said, ‘I snorted it and all of a sudden my body starting shutting down.'”

Contreras remained hospitalized this week and may have suffered some nerve damage due to the overdose, Fitzpatrick said.

Similarly to firefighters, Fitzpatrick said police officers will “glove up” and wear protective masks when responding to overdoses or other drug calls. At times, officers encounter what appears to be a narcotics “mill operation or packaging area” and have contacted hazardous materials experts.

Fitzpatrick said Lawrence detectives in the Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit have worked with Drug Enforcement Administration agents who have training in hazardous materials response.

The overdoses at 194 Garden St. remain under investigation as detectives try to ascertain where and from whom the men obtained the cocaine-laced with fentanyl.

No similar overdoses were reported in Lawrence during the past two weeks.

With the exception of the Garden Street overdoses, Fitzpatrick said the department has not encountered many cases where cocaine was combined with fentanyl.

In June, however, the New York City Health Department issued a warning to cocaine users, “even occasional users,” that fentanyl had been implicated in a growing number of cocaine-involved deaths.

“In the past, fentanyl has been commonly present in heroin-involved deaths but fentanyl is increasingly being identified in other overdose deaths involving other drugs,” according to the alert.

In Lawrence, while Jorge Contreras, 33, survived the overdose, his brother who shared the same name, Jorge Contreras, 31, died. Joel Rodriguez, 26, also died.

The second floor of 194 Garden St., where the overdoses occurred, were sanitized by a professional cleaning company before the building could be inhabited again.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration, in recent alerts, warned that carfentanil and other fentanyl-related compounds are a serious danger to public safety workers, including first-responders, medical and laboratory personnel, and others.

“These substances can come in several forms, including powder, blotter paper, tablets, and spray—they can be absorbed through the skin or accidental inhalation of airborne powder,” the DEA warned.

Signs of carfentanil and fentanyl exposure include respiratory depression or arrest, drowsiness, disorientation, sedation, pinpoint pupils, and clammy skin. The onset of these symptoms usually occurs within minutes of exposure.

The antidote for opioid overdose is Naloxone, also known as Narcan, which is administered through nasal canisters.

Illegal doses of heroin have been combined with both fentanyl and carfentanil, triggering overdoses.

The New York City Health Department also issued a warning in June to cocaine users warning them fentanyl has been implicated in a growing number of overdose deaths, as was the case in three overdoses—two of which were fatal—in Lawrence on July 17, 2017.

Virtual Training Prepares First Responders For An Active Shooter

Active Shooter Drills

We like to spread the word about things that assist our first responders to be better trained and prepared for bad situations. An active shooter scenario can be very chaotic and dynamic situation. The following article was put out by DHS last month.

Amidst the chaos of an active shooter event, preparedness is key to a seamless, swift and effective response—and a new video game funded by the DHS S&T and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory just might do the trick. Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment, or EDGE, is a virtual training platform, available now to all response agencies nationwide. Built on the Unreal Engine, it allows responders of all disciplines to assume discipline-based avatars and simultaneously role-play complex response scenarios.

Amidst the chaos of an active shooter event, preparedness is key to a seamless, swift and effective response—and a new video game funded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory just might do the trick.

S&T says that Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment, orEDGE, is a virtual training platform, available now to all response agencies nationwide. Built on the Unreal Engine, it allows responders of all disciplines to assume discipline-based avatars and simultaneously role-play complex response scenarios. The first scenario, an incident at a local hotel, brings law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services, dispatch, and unified command together to combat an active shooter also armed with fiery Molotov cocktails.

“We developed the EDGE virtual environment to be completely true-to-life,” explained Milt Nenneman, Program Manager in S&T’s First Responders Group. “Everything from the hotel lobby to the elevators to the boiler rooms to the bedspreads in the guest quarters, was built completely to scale.” The scenario is based on a real hotel in Sacramento, where the program was piloted with local response agencies.

EDGE also features authentic response vehicles, tools, and personal protective equipment. The training is not pre-scripted; most EDGEavatars—including the actual shooter—are controlled by the responders themselves using agency-standard operating procedures to guide all training outcomes. Responders navigate their avatars as they would act in a real emergency, responding to threats according to their department’s policies.”

The beauty of EDGE is it was designed to allow a single agency to train its staff or multiple agencies can train together across disciplines and jurisdictions for a more synchronized response. And, unlike real-world training exercises, EDGE doesn’t cost money for agencies to travel to a single location—they can conduct the training from their own home stations. The goal: improve coordination and communication before an active shooter or other catastrophic event happens in order to mitigate injuries and loss of lives during a live response. 

All actions are determined by first responders’ own decisions in the environment, which means the game can play out differently depending on the specific training exercise and first responders’ actions. Because of the open sandbox, a department’s instructors can create any event or scenario to reinforce their training curriculum.

“These days, it is essential that responders have every tool at their disposal to prepare for and respond to critical incidents,” Nenneman added. “Those first at the scene must make decisions in a flash, and in those initial moments every bit of training helps to save civilian and responder lives.”

S&T and the Army plan to release a second EDGE active shooter training scenario using a school as the backdrop later this year. Like the hotel scenario, the school shooting environment will be available for free to all first responder agencies and personnel charged with school (and student) protection.

“These types of incidents are now an unfortunate reality, and when schools come under fire everybody becomes a first responder,” Nenneman said. “This EDGE scenario was created to train staff on the critical steps to take, whether corralling students for a quick exit to a safe location or barricading classrooms before responders arrive on the scene.”

The EDGE school environment will be released in fall 2017.

Seeing Is Believing – Subjective vs Objective Observation

Room Entry

This week, I am going to talk about Subjective vs Objective Observation and how video can significantly improve training.

Subjective: “reality as perceived – rather than as independent of mind.”

What does this really mean? When something like an observation of an event is viewed in a subjective way, it is based inside of an individual’s brain. Things like life experiences, memories, personal biases and prejudices all command the subjective view. To get even more crazy scientific on you. When a person looks at something in a subjective way, they see it as perceived reality instead of reality itself. The bottom line is a Subjective Observation can change wildly from person to person.

Now, let’s look at the opposite of subjective.

Objective: “the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers.”

The real meaning of this is pretty simple. This type of observation starts and happens outside the mind of any specific person. In this instance, the action is observable by any other individual looking at the same situation. In order for this to happen, all subjective biases have to be removed.

If you are reading this article, you have probably done some type of structure clearance. It could have been a few rooms, a small house or an entire abandoned mental hospital. They are pretty creepy, by the way.

I am willing to bet many of you dealt with a lane grader or training cell. At the end of the run, they tell you, “You went left instead of right in that room, on the fourth floor, at the end of the hallway, two rooms deep with the chair in it.”

Oh, and you aren’t the only one they have comments about. It makes you think there is no way in Hell they know what every single person in the stack did on a ten-minute run.

I actually knew some guys in training cell that could remember just about every single thing a guy did on a run, but I can guarantee you that it isn’t the norm.

The reason I bring all of this up is to prove the point that subjective evaluation lends itself to rely on memory and what an individual thought they saw. Objective evaluation is concrete, unbiased, and based on what really happened. The best example of an objective review tool is video. We all know pictures and video don’t lie. Unless your best friend does an edit job so it looks like you are making out with your mother. That is a subject for a different time.

Video review is a very useful tool. If is used in a targeted manner at the right times, video allows a person to build a mental model of the correct skill. Watching video is a proven way to enhance the skill learning process.

Unfortunately, the video analysis of a training event doesn’t happen until the end of the day or even the following day. Immediate review can provide a person with the opportunity to improve a skill or technique by the very next training iteration – in a matter of minutes.

Video is saved for anytime use or evaluation to review the progress of individual skills. Video recordings can reveal improvements or losses in one’s performance over time. It also is an invaluable tool in the diagnosis of a unit’s overall training program. Finally, it can be used to show new members of a unit the performance of veteran, top performers by providing them a solid baseline in which to begin training.

Video Improves Swing

Sports coaches are utilizing immediate video evaluation more and more to critique the performance of athletes at every level. Traditionally, the feedback process has been based upon a coach’s subjective observation of performance, which can be influenced by bias, emotion and previous experiences (Hughes and Bartlett, 2008).

For example, a football coach’s subjective observation process is known to be unreliable and inaccurate, since even experienced coaches have been shown to be able to recall just 59.2% of the critical events occurring during 45 minutes of football performance (Laird and Waters, 2008).

This lack of accurate recall ability can lead to ‘highlighting’, where a coach’s perception of performance becomes distorted by those events that they can remember (Hughes and Bartlett, 2008).

Ultimately, this results in inaccurate coaching feedback and decision-making. This is improved with the use of objective, unbiased and comprehensive information performance analysis that video is capable of providing (James, 2006; Hughes and Bartlett, 2008).

A few years ago, we participated in a military exercise and had the opportunity to interview some special operators. They told our engineers they were using action cameras on operations and had no way of sharing what they were seeing. The operators already had the cameras. They were also issued some type of smart device. However, they couldn’t understand why the two wouldn’t talk to each other.

We iterated extensively with these and other operators to develop a solution to greatly improve overall situational awareness. This solution is called Networked Tactical Television or NTtv.

NTtv is a first person video sharing system that allows you to view different video streams in real time. The system also allows for recordings up to 30 hours for use in after action reviews. It is compatible with a wide variety of cameras to include action cameras, thermal, IR and the MOHOC® wireless tactical camera.

The video encoders are actually small computers that include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. The encoders mesh with one another providing up to half-mile line of sight connection between each encoder.

They also have a small server that feeds the video recordings to a site we have established. They can be sent to your own site that you control, if you choose. If there is no other backhaul communication support, the encoders speak to each other, providing you a video sharing capability. Finally, they can communicate over existing cellular networks and over certain data capable tactical radios.

The system can be used to provide the on scene commander real time video of operations. This results in far better situation awareness than just describing what is going on over a radio. NTtv is an invaluable training tool that allows trainers to set the system up in any location to capture the actions of trainees.

NTtv now also includes a multiple video DVR (mvDVR) feature that adds the ability to instantly review multiple synchronized camera views of the same action without having to go through hours of recorded video to find what you are really looking for. This vastly speeds up the after-action review process. Additionally, it provides immediate feedback using video angles that matter for each training evolution.

The bottom line; Subjective Observation and Objective Observation have their respective places in this world. Subjective is perfect if you are viewing the Mona Lisa and coming to your own conclusion as to why she is really smiling. But, it has no value and can arguably, be detrimental when it comes to training our warriors and first-responders.

 

ENGINEER VS OPERATOR: USER INTERFACE

Rocket Telemetry

Joe – The Engineer

I have been an engineer, a geek, and a human long enough to know where my area of expertise is. I also know where it is lacking. Engineers have different desires from the rest of the world. We don’t understand why everyone else doesn’t see the world like we do. I will flatly admit to not knowing anything about the subtleties of User Interface.

To prove this point, let me introduce the quintessential engineer’s game, Kerbal Space Program. Your job is to build rockets and using orbital mechanics, somewhat real gravity and somewhat real aerodynamic forces. These are used to explore the solar system surrounding Kerbal. An Earth like planet in that system. You basically become NASA.

If you’re not a “gamer,” you also likely don’t know that some games can be modified thru external programs to add new aspects of the game. Therefore, I will admit that my Kerbal addiction is so bad that I run over 30 of these modifications.

These modifications make the game harder and more realistic. They add part failures, real life antennaes, and astronauts that go crazy in confined spaces. All of this adds to the joys of space travel.

This requires that I have sub screens showing me various data points. Thrust to Weight Ratio tells me if I have engine failure options. Remaining Delta V tells me if I can make it home. Finally, electrical charge to know if my momentum wheels can properly orient my spacecraft… data, data, data! I need it all!

Then one day,  my wife walks by and says, “I don’t know how you can enjoy a game that requires so many numbers.” It’s at that point, I hope you realize, there is a hopeless disconnect between an engineer’s ideal User Interface and virtually everyone else’s.

We can even point to historically bad examples of User Interface Design. The Honeywell Kitchen Computer (H316) comes to mind. This thing was actually sold in Neiman Marcus for $10K. That’s $77K in today’s dollars. It expected the home-maker of the late ‘60s to deal with switches and binary light read-outs to assist in meal preparation. You even got a free two week training course with it.

Kitchen Computer

Luckily, we now live in a world that has massive computer power and unbelievable graphics. Kopis Mobile was, in a way, actually founded to tackle this exact problem. We use smart devices with advanced touch-screens that enable us to keep things super simple for the user. As a result, we have an engineering knack for interfacing differing items to these smart devices.

Differing screens, hidden debug menus, more graphically rich displays, all help improve the user experience and provide the adaptability that differing people need in a User Interface.

Hugh – The Operator

Wow! My head hurts so much I am going to continue this discussion next week. I suspect most of you need a drink and an aspirin as much as I do. Stayed tuned for my response…

 

 

 

 

New Product Development – Engineer vs Operator

New product development diagram

Over the next few weeks, the blog is going to focus on new product development. Primarily, it is going to take a look at things through two different sets of eyes. The engineer and the operator. By operator, I mean the guy or girl out on the pointy end of the spear.

The diagram at the top is what operators think is swirling around in an engineer’s head most of the time.  As a result, when you ask an operator to describe the perfect engineer, this is what you get:

Engineer on the computer

At the end of the day, the operator only wants something that is super easy to use and actually works. Often times, what an operator gets is not what they wanted or ever asked for. The new product development process rarely involves any input from ‘the field’. Therefore, a new product is conceived, tested and developed in a vacuum.

It also takes way too long to get a product to the field doing things that way. I mentioned in past posts, the bad guys are not concerned with budgets, approval processes or multi layers of red tape. Products have to get to operators as quickly as possible and this happens with their input from the start.

Over the next few weeks with a lot of help from one our Co-Founders and lead engineers,  I will write about SWaP (Size, Weight, and Power), user interfaces, ruggedization of equipment and training. Especially relevant, the battle between the engineer and the operator will be highlighted throughout the posts. It will all revolve around new product development.

We always want to hear from our readers. I am positive there are stories out there from both sides of the fence. Probably more from the operator side than the engineer. Especially since the operator is on the receiving end of the engineer’s creation.

I believe you will quickly come to realize just how “hard headed” both groups are. You will also read about success stories when engineers and operators work together to make some really innovative stuff.

TRADE SHOW SEASON HITS HIGH GEAR

https://kopismobile.com/
Kopis Mobile at SOFIC 2016

Funny how trade show season comes in about the same time pollen season does. Both can cause irritation. Actually, we look forward to hitting the road every year. Trade shows provide us with the opportunity to meet potential new customers and reconnect with current ones.

If you have been following Kopis, you already know we attended the Las Vegas SHOT Show back in January. We met some amazing folks out there specifically law enforcement officers from around the country. The worst part about SHOT is the amount of time you spend on your feet. If anyone has been to Vegas, you already know there is no easy way to get around and it is often faster to walk to where ever you are going. Friends of mine who wore fitness trackers were walking between 10 and 13 miles per day during the show.

Next week, we will be at the San Diego Convention Center 19-20 April for the ADS Warrior West Expo. This is one of our smaller trade shows, but it always has a very focused group of military, law enforcement and first responders. We will be displaying some new products in booth 1136.  You know, it just never sucks to be in San Diego.

Next month,  we will be in Tampa 15-18 May for SOFIC. A reunion of sorts always happens at this trade show since it is Special Operations focused. This year, we are sharing booth 454 with one of our great partners, Tactical Electronic Corp.

Later in the Summer, we will be back in Virginia Beach for the ADS Warrior East Expo held at the convention center 13-14 July.

In order to branch out into different markets, we decided to add two trade shows to our schedule. This year we have added the National Guard Association of the United States (NGUAS) held in Louisville 7-10 September and the  International Chiefs of Police show at the Philadelphia Convention Center 21-24 October. We are always super excited to meet new people and hopefully venture into new markets.

 

 

MULTIPLE HAZARDS AWAIT FIRST RESPONDERS IN METH LABS

Meth labs are some of the most hazardous places first responders have to enter. Crystal meth is one nasty drug, but even worse, are the meth labs where it is produced.

Who knew how long the stuff has been around. Amphetamine was first produced in Germany in the late 1800’s. Then, the Japanese turned it into methamphetamine shortly after that.

Widely used by several countries during World War II, meth was used to increase endurance and alertness. Specifically, Kamikaze pilots took meth prior to embarking on one way missions to sink U.S. Naval vessels in the Pacific.

Meth labs may be located virtually anywhere. Labs have been found in secluded rural areas as well as in residential, commercial, and industrial districts. First responders have raided labs at private homes, commercial properties, hotels and motels. Mobile labs have been discovered in automobiles, boats, and luggage.

Here are just some of the dangerous things one may face when entering a suspected lab:

Chemical Hazards
Pseudoephedrine Ingestion of doses greater than 240 mg causes hypertension, arrhythmia, anxiety, dizziness, and vomiting. Ingestion of doses greater than 600 mg can lead to renal failure and seizures.
Acetone/ ethyl alcohol  Extremely flammable, posing a fire risk in and around the laboratory. Inhalation or ingestion of these solvents causes severe gastric irritation, narcosis, or coma.
Freon Inhalation can cause sudden cardiac arrest or severe lung damage. It is corrosive if ingested.
Anhydrous ammonia A colorless gas with a pungent, suffocating odor. Inhalation causes edema of the respiratory tract and asphyxia. Contact with vapors damages eyes and mucous membranes.
Red phosphorus May explode as a result of contact or friction. Ignites if heated above 260° C. Vapor from ignited phosphorus severely irritates the nose, throat, lungs, and eyes.
Hypophosphorous acid Extremely dangerous substitute for red phosphorus. If overheated, deadly phosphine gas is released. Poses a serious fire and explosion hazard.
Lithium metal Extremely caustic to all body tissues. Reacts violently with water and poses a fire or explosion hazard.
Hydriodic acid A corrosive acid with vapors that are irritating to the respiratory system, eyes, and skin. If ingested, causes severe internal irritation and damage that may cause death.
Iodine crystals Give off vapor that is irritating to respiratory system and eyes. Solid form irritates the eyes and may burn skin. If ingested, cause severe internal damage.

 Phenylpropanolamine

Ingestion of doses greater than 75 mg causes hypertension, arrhythmia, anxiety, and dizziness. Quantities greater than 300 mg can lead to renal failure, seizures, stroke, and death.

Source: DEA Office of Diversion Control.

This article in the Preston County Journal really highlights the secondary dangers of entering a meth lab. In this case, improper decontamination lead to the death of an officer’s son.

Training is vitally important, and as the above article reveals, and it is critical at every level; local, state and federal. Proper decontamination training likely would have avoided the death of the young boy.

I remember running around in MOPP (Mission-Oriented Protective Postures) Level IV gear for hours on end and it sucked. In hot climates it was really bad, especially back then, when there were no cooling systems. At the end of several hours, my boots would literally be full of sweat. We had to do it because we had to get really good at operating in that caustic environment.

We would like to hear what first responders think gives them the best chance of survivability when dealing with these dangerous labs. Is it better training, better equipment or just better awareness? Let us know what you think.

Who cares if the only easy day was yesterday. Always look forward and never back. Kick ass!

 

 

 

DAYTONA BIKE WEEK 2017-THE MELTING POT OF AMERICA

It is time to get back to work after spending a few days down in Daytona for the 76th Annual Daytona Bike Week. The weather was generally good and no one was hurt, at least nothing worse than a few bruised livers and melted ATM cards.

The rich, the poor and everyone in the middle all hang out together with the common theme being motorcycles. It is certainly a great place to people watch because I guarantee you will see something you have never seen before.

I saw a giant bulldog in a baby carriage, a Dachshund dressed like a biker being carried around like a baby, men that I thought were women and women I thought were men. Toss in some spring breakers and vacationing families with young kids and you really have a fine American stew.

When there are half a million bikers in one town, you would expect to see at least one altercation. I have been going for a few years now and I have yet to see a fist raised. Everyone is there to enjoy the camaraderie, the music and the weather.

The best part, I think it is one of the largest gatherings of patriotic folks around the country. I had the opportunity to speak with several current and former military members. I also spent several hours speaking to some police officers from the Atlanta area. American flags were flying all over town and on the backs of bikes. It was great to see some positive things for a change instead of all the junk I see in the news everyday.

Speaking of police, every year we go to The Last Resort where Aileen Wuornos was arrested after going on a serial killing spree. Creepy yes, but interesting non the less. You just have to love someone who requests a last meal of a cup of coffee.

Who cares if the only easy day was yesterday. Always look forward and never back. Kick ass!