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Esri Supports Fire & EMS Service Operations in the New Normal

Esri continues its strong partnership with the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and their efforts to support fire and EMS agencies in various missions. This is evident in the COVID-19 response from the IAFC. Their ability to measure the needs of individual agencies, identify gaps in the supply chain for PPE, or understand the economic impact of a pandemic used geographic information system (GIS) information to provide insights into the problem. Performing an appropriate assessment of any risk or incident using geospatial data allows decision-makers to leverage verified intelligence to make sound decisions.   

Responders make critical decisions based on limited information every day. Agencies should strive to generate verified data for an emergency response to provide personnel with the right data at the right time. Fire and EMS departments can integrate disparate data from multiple sources that can be used to perform incident assessments, monitor response actions, and to provide a higher level of responder safety.  

Fire and EMS agencies need tools to adapt to fluid risks and support various mission requirements. Today, we must be able to identify changing incident conditions, collaborate and unify operations in an all-hazard environment, communicate with the public, and analyze the success of those efforts. Through the power of geospatial technology, organizations can now adopt a smarter, more integrative approach to emergency response.    

Emerging threats continue to impact the fire service and how we deploy resources. COVID-19 is an example of a previously unknown threat that significantly changed our response model. The use of technology allows leaders to understand the impact of these events. These threats require an efficient response, one that cannot be solved by simply hiring more personnel or deploying additional resources. We have to be able to efficiently deploy resources based on immediate needs. GIS allows us to determine what is occurring, where it is happening, and who is being impacted by the event. These tools have repeatedly demonstrated the ability to develop and share incident-specific data to the stakeholders that support a response.   

The International Association of Fire Chiefs moved to address these risks and safeguard its members' physical and mental health during the COVID-19 response. IAFC leadership adopted an emergency outreach strategy and activated a new operational plan, relying on the organization's reliable geographic information system (GIS) technology platform.  

The IAFC promotes the use of GIS field applications for real-time data collection. These applications are changing the way incident commanders are making decisions. The ability to collect incident intelligence in real-time allows for better data-driven decision-making.  

Geo-enabling field data collection, mutual aid coordination, and logistical support bring the response process into the twenty-first century. This allows us to know where the resources needed for a response are located and where they should be deployed.  

The Latest responses provided case studies on the effectiveness of the technology to support response. The implementation of these field applications provided incident intelligence in real-time during major disasters. The IAFC provided urban search and rescue teams with Esri's Survey123 for ArcGIS field application and just-in-time training during the response to the most recent hurricanes. These teams were then able to collect and submit real-time data to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), command personnel, and emergency operations centers during the response. The use of field applications and operations dashboard views allowed decision-makers to coordinate resources based on an assessment of actual field conditions.  

Esri will continue to support fire and EMS agencies as they address the hazards in their communities. You will see applications such as ArcGIS Quick Capture, ArcGIS Mission, and ArcGIS FieldMaps that allow for easily deployed solutions to address obstacles in data collection, assessment, and resource deployment. Please reach out with any questions or comments; we are here to support your mission. 

Mike Cox is Director Fire & EMS Solutions for Esri and Deputy Fire Chief, Retired, Henrico, VA 

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