I left the house a few minutes later than I planned, about 6:15. I expected that if I didn't hit too much Northern Va. traffic, I'd be at the Metro station by 8:15 or so, but I was worried about finding a parking spot on the deck. I knew that the Macy's about 1/2 mile away had free parking on their deck, so I had that to fall back on. As it turned out, I made great time and got to the station right at 8, and had plenty of parking to choose from. I got right on the train and away we went.
I managed to put together a mission-specific kit bag last night. It was a single strap, over the shoulder satchel that I got from another convention. It was roomy enough for a little gear, and the anticipated brochures, samples, etc... For gear, I had my normal EDC kit on my belt, 4 bottles of water, my Sport Berkey bottle filled, 4 granola bars, a Gerber tactical folder, a N-95 mask, safety glasses, canvas palm work gloves (the last three in case of a train mishap), and a Goretex lined watch cap. I wore hiking boots in case I had to hoof it somewhere, my lined leather jacket (nice enough for informal working environment, but also good protection from the elements), and khaki cargo pants that are a bit more durable than my normal working khakis.
Who'd I See?
The morning keynote speaker was retired Admiral Thad Allen, former Commandant of the Coast Guard. He spoke of the Gulf oil spill response, and the need for increased preparedness from all levels of government, private business, and individuals. He introduced me to the concept of the "Black Swan." Essentially that highly improbable and random events can have huge impacts. The idea comes 17th century Europe, where it was scientific fact that all swans were white. Then they explored Australia and found black ones, throwing all scientific "facts" into question. He related it to Japan. Think of how unlikely it is that three protective systems at a nuclear plant would fail at the same time, and look at the enormous effect caused by that improbable event.
I then ran into a guy I used to work with some back in the mid-90's. He is retired from Va. Dept. of Emergency Management, and works with a large consulting firm doing all kinds of emergency management training and planning. I'm going to take in his presentation about suicide bombings in Israel this fall at another conference.
What Did I Learn?
After a grant writing seminar, I hit the trade show floor. There were a lot of vendors for things that are of little to no interest to me such as IT security, command and control vehicles, and super high tech goodies. But, there were also a number of items of interest to me both for work, and for sharing with you all.
Here's a brief list:
I got several samples of Quick Clot. This is a wound dressing that interacts with your blood's own clotting agents and accelerates them to stop severe bleeding quickly. It's commonly in use on the battlefield, in police cars, and on rescue squads. A lot of rural shooting ranges are now keeping it on hand. From what the rep said, it is also useful for folks on Cumadin or other blood thinners who may have trouble controlling bleeding. Might be a good thing to keep in a tool box or work shop. I'm squeezing one into my EDC kit.
I got a shirt-pocket size flip book, Emergency Response to Terrorism, from American Military University. I'll do an in depth review of this later, and see if I can find a source for you to get one. I've been looking at AMU and think I'll probably end up pursing their "Masters of Disasters" degree in emergency management.
I got a cool "tactical" business card holder from Tactical Tailor, along with a catalog. They have some extremely high speed load bearing equipment and body armor, and can customize it to your exact needs.
The National Center for Biomedical Research and Training at Louisiana State University was there giving out a shirt pocket size WMD Response Guidebook. I've done some train-the-trainer classes with this group before. They can very cost effectively bring some excellent training to local fire/rescue/police/emergency management agencies.
My next stop was North American Rescue. They have some incredible tactical rescue gear. If you are like I am, and remember the military first aid kits of the 80s and 90s (iodine tabs, battle dressing, and the OD sling that immediately became a head rag), you'll be impressed by these guys. The have ChitoGauze, which is similar to, but different from the Quick Clot from earlier. The Quick Clot enhances the body's own clotting ability. The ChitoGauze is impregnated with a compound from shrimp shells (made non-allergenic in the manufacturing process) that interacts with blood to form its own clots. Unfortunately, I could not get a sample of this one. Their rescue and first aid gear could be a great asset to a survival group that has a paramedic or Navy doc as a member. For the typical layman, however, most of it is beyond our knowledge.
I got a free copy of Small Arms Defense Journal, a really nice quarterly magazine that covers everything from the latest experimental military weapons to obscure foreign machine guns to historical arms. This is definitely not Guns & Ammo or American Rifleman. I'll do a full review after I read it.
I also got Counter Terrorism & Homeland Security International. Another high quality, quarterly professional journal. Articles include an interview with Oliver North, Is Your Local Mosque Moderate or Radical, and Australia's World-Class Adaptive Army. I'll review it for you soon.
Last but not least, I got a free Photon Micro-Light. That little thing is amazingly bright! You can also dim the light, or start it out dim and make it brighter. It would be very nice to have one of these on a key ring. I'm giving this one to my wonderful wife.
All in all, a good conference, and well worth the trip!