Science and Technology News

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Map taps into emergency response

by Andree Swanson
Air Mobility Command Geo Integration Office


9/10/2013 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Travis Air Force Base's emergency responders have taken their actions into the geospatial world by introducing an online map that may save lives.

The Emergency Response Tool is a specialized map view vital for incident commanders, security forces, firefighters and senior leadership in making critical decisions during an emergency. Using the ERT on Air Mobility Command's geospatial program called AMC.maps, members of the installation's Disaster Response Force can plot cordons, color code dangerous areas affected by an emergency, and develop safe routes for base personnel response or escape. The resultant image is continuously refreshed online so all responders have a near real-time view of the incident.

Responders viewing the ERT map will see a picture of an emergency as it happens, giving emergency responders immediate life-saving knowledge. ERT's installation perspective also provides senior leaders a tool to determine which missions can continue during an emergency. While the end product seems pretty simple, behind the scenes it's a complex tool combining interactive maps with robust training and fast moving data.

Although various emergency map tools have been used by Travis in the past, the ERT was first used in May during an earthquake scenario at the base theater involving local hospitals, fire departments and the Office of Emergency Services. The Disaster Response Force again tested the ERT during a recent shooting incident simulated at Scandia Elementary School Aug. 1.

"We used ERT during our last local exercise with great success," said Col. Doug Bugado, 60th Mission Support Group commander. "Although it is bandwidth dependent for multiple simultaneous users, it's very efficient in terms of both posting collaborative updates and viewing the most up-to-date incident information. I'm confident other installations could benefit utilizing its capabilities."

The 60th Civil Engineering Squadron's GeoBase manager, Dan Mattheis, worked with the AMC Geo Integration Office to bring the capabilities of the mapping tool to Travis. Mattheis refined the tool to fit Travis AFB's needs, worked with engineering assistants in its use, then tested the tool during last May's exercise.

Staff Sgt. Seamus Mills, Geospatial Data Management Office non-commissioned officer in charge, trained the engineering assistants to use the ERT in support of the Crisis Action Team and Emergency Operation Center.

"Training for using the ERT is absolutely necessary," noted Cheryl Brown, a program analyst. "Sergeant Mills is such a huge contributor to the success that we've had during the past year. From the beginning, he understood the CAT to EOC connection, and the applicability for all control centers. His participation was critical to turning a tool on a CE map into a tool for all Travis emergency responders."

The training ensured the Travis emergency response team worked effectively through both exercises while improving communication using the new tool.

"Dan was CE's man behind the curtain," said Mark Wilson, 60th CES Installation Emergency manager. "He was key to fielding a cutting edge tool that will assist commanders and responders for years to come."

Lt. Col. Dan Guinan, 60th CES commander, awarded Mattheis a squadron Work Horse award in early August for his efforts. However, Mattheis wasn't the only person recognized for bringing on the ERT. Airman 1st Class Shane Frey took the wing's Professional Performer Award Aug. 28 as the ERT editor during August's Scandia School incident exercise.

Mills trained Frey, an engineering assistant, to serve as the map editor during the recent August exercise. Frey entered event locations, plotted a detailed safe route, and continuously maintained updates as the incident developed.

Teamwork combined with a bit of technology could mean huge returns for Travis AFB during a real-world emergency.

"I hope there is never a reason to use the ERT real-time," said Bugado. "But if there is, I know Travis is ready to respond with a top notch team utilizing capabilities like ERT to save lives and reconstitute the base to meet our mission requirements."

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