Last year we wrote about how security is tight at the annual New York City Thanksgiving Day Parade. (Read Protecting One of the Most Loved Thanksgiving Day Parades) Of course, it needs to be. This year, parade organizers expect 3.5 million spectators plus 8,000 participants to be lined up or walking along the 2.65 mile route. So how can first responders protect the public and the participants — for this parade and for the many others going on throughout the U.S.?
There are different types of technology used by the military forces, hazmat professionals, police, and fire departments to help keep crowds safe, and keep the first responders safe as well:
Chemical identification systems enable hazmat, law enforcement, military and other first responders to obtain accurate identification of chemicals, explosives and hazardous materials in seconds, even through sealed translucent containers.
Narcotics analyzers give law enforcement personnel field identification capability for many new high priority alarm narcotics, opioids, and synthetic drugs, including fentanyl derivatives.
Portable radiation detection and identification technology can quickly distinguish between naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) and radiation from man-made sources such as improvised nuclear devices (INDs) or radiological dispersal devices (RDDs). A Personal Radiation Detector (PRD) is a pager-sized instrument that police officers wear as a primary means of locating a source as they walk the event. Spectroscopic Area Monitors can detect and identify radiation on location and report results to users miles away from the source. A Radiation Detection Backpack allows officers to strap the backpack on, and unobtrusively locate and very rapidly detect gamma-emitting radioactive sources in large areas — especially useful for a parade route.
A Parade Route Radiation Monitoring document and diagram is a case study that can be used by security personal to outline the appropriate places for radiation monitoring and detection equipment to be placed. This is not for a specific Thanksgiving route, but the diagram gives a nice example of how police can monitor traffic and fans along a long parade route in a populated area. (You can see the NYC Thanksgiving Day parade route here.)
So, if you are one of the 3.5 million people in NYC who will be focused on the bands, balloons, singers, and selfies, rest assured that there are first responders in the background, monitoring your safety. And whether you are one of the spectators on the streets of NYC or anywhere else in the U.S,, or watching on your television, offer thanks at your Thanksgiving Day meal that there are people and technologies helping to protect the public.