Saturday, June 09, 2007

GTI Conducts Training for Disaster Response Team

GTI recently conducted interactive web-based training on Pocket GTViewer and Damage Assessment applications. Sixteen local government agencies will participate in a first-ever regional disaster response exercise, Tuesday, June 19, that includes a damage assessment of the conditions after the earthquake. The mock disaster will involve nearly 100 people in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee working with a scenario based on a 7.7 earthquake along the New Madrid fault.

Outside assistance is likely to include the other participating municipalities and counties, which are part of a growing, regional Rescuer/Responder Assistance Information Network (RAIN). RAIN is currently a loose knit group of city/county agencies that are setting up shared data and common software so they can provide mutual aid in the case of a wide-spread disaster. On June 19, the agencies will be viewing, collecting, and sharing critical post-incident information to each other, to six local Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) and to state directors for Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) at the West Tennessee Operations Center in Jackson, TN. An additional mechanism for access will be an interactive internet site setup to view and analyze information that will be a compilation of information acquired on the 19th and available to Emergency Management officials with a password.

By the end of the day, agencies will be viewing and analyzing information which could help assess initial damage and arrange for triage. This will be done in the various EOCs and on the internet. The test will assume most conventional communication such as telephones or cell towers is limited or nonexistent, and that movement throughout the area will also be limited.

“We want to decrease the amount of time it takes to get critical information into the hands of the actual responders. New mobile technology allows us to provide specific assessments on casualties or injuries, and for damage to roads and bridges, utilities, trees and vegetation, and structures – very quickly,” said Vic Young, Facilities Management & Mapping manager at Fisher & Arnold, Inc., a Memphis-based engineering firm assisting with the exercise.

“Realizing that many times the first responder is not police or fire, we have placed much of the search and rescue information on the mobile devices of day-to-day field users associated with utilities, code enforcement, inspectors, and engineering. These employees could be in their normal mode until emergency management information is needed, and then deployed instantly. Germantown, Olive Branch, Dyersburg, and the City of Memphis have, or will soon have this capability”, according to Young.

RAIN (Rescuer/Responder Assistance Information Network) includes:

Arkansas: City of Jonesboro, Craighead County, Crittenden County, City of West Memphis
Mississippi: City of Olive Branch, DeSoto County
Tennessee: City of Memphis, City of Dyersburg, Shelby County, Dyer County, Tipton County, Memphis Airport, Town of Collierville, City of Germantown, City of Bartlett, Lauderdale County

ResponderFMTMobile use

June 19th RAIN Participants

The responder can drive down the street and see each house with information such as who owns the property, the location of gas cutoffs, or the location of damaged homes.

Being able to quickly collect detailed damage information on your mobile phone or PDA allows the task to be completed in hours instead of days. The digital record is in the right place in space and can be sent immediately to the Emergency Operations Center and viewed on the monitors.

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