Emergency Response during a natural or man-made disaster could be rated as one of the most stressful and dangerous activities a professional could face in his or her lifetime. There are thousands of brave men and women that, besides their normal day to day jobs, offer their services as rescuer. Every emergency is unique and presents its own set of challenges, and the rescuers are faced with the daunting task of making decisions on the fly, decisions that if made wrong, could put their lives or the lives of others in danger. Providing and equipping the rescuer force with “best of breed” resources available could mean more lives spared and reduction of risk to the safety of the rescuers themselves.
Drones, or SUAV´s are one of those technological tools available today. This technology has its origins in the defense sector. Being used as the eye in the sky, looking for enemy troops, positions and strongholds as well as providing commanders with an enhanced situational awareness; these tools are like eagles in the sky when it comes to supporting rescue operations. Drones equipped with high resolution cameras, thermal imagery and other sensors could make the difference in finding a victim or detecting a dangerous area to avoid. These flying sensors could even detect gas leaks originated from the disaster itself, which could cause great danger to rescuers, victims and rescue machinery.
While having an eye in the sky is a great tool and provides the rescue team an advantage point, it does little good to them unless they are able to relay the findings to their Operations Center or receiving guidance from headquarters. For that, reliable and fluid communications is a must. During natural disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes power lines, radio and cellular antennas could be gravely damaged and the service hindered leaving the rescue effort mute and deaf. Relying on a platform that could integrate in a secure manner multiple communications means and not being dependent on one communications carrier service could be the key to a successful recue and relief operation. These tools form the backbone of a large enterprise of services, managers and workers involved in the rescue effort.
During an emergency, many agencies are faced with an influx of personnel willing to lend a helping hand, however organizing and managing all of those volunteers and professional workers is not an easy task, unless an effective communication architecture is established allowing for many different types of communication devices to talk to each other, providing the much needed command and control of the efforts.
Finally, analyzing data is of extreme importance during and after a relief effort. During the actual effort, massive amount of information could be received at the Emergency Operations Center. Gathering, cataloguing and analyzing that information is a task that requires huge amounts of manpower and experience. However, there are software suites that allow analysts to process large amounts of data in a fast and logical manner, thus providing their superiors with actionable information that could save lives. Moreover, these tools provide the analysis necessary to study vulnerable areas and be able to prevent major catastrophes in the future. One might not be able to control nature, but one can definitely take action to prevent massive human loss by taking the appropriate measures to protect life. Term analysis provided by these software suites allow Crisis Managers to do just that, identify danger zones and ensure populations are aware of the dangers.
For more information on this topic and the discussed technologies, contact us at JohnsTek Inc. We come with vast experience in the establishment of emergency response operations, Operations Centers and technological solutions to support any emergency response effort.
Author: Jaime Vila @JTI_JVila (Twitter) and Evin Colman @JTI_EColman
Jaime Vila is the General Manager for JohnsTek LATAM.
Evin Colman is a Director of Emergency Management Consulting for JohnsTek LATAM