There is no doubt that mutual aid – the ability to connect resources across all areas of emergency response and jurisdictional boundaries – is of utmost importance when it comes to natural disasters. And with many calling 2017 the “year of natural disasters”, the timing could not be better for a solution that will give federal, state and local agencies as well as first responders the ability to visually see, using GIS, where emergency resources are lacking and needed during times of crisis. When it comes to unforeseen events, mutual aid is the answer but not the only solution to the problem.
In a recent interview with Cy Cole, Director of Federal Business Development at Intermedix, said, “Traditionally, mutual aid has taken place in densely populated areas where pre-existing agreements exist between local agencies and responders about how they will assist one when they encounter an incident they aren’t resourced to handle. But up until now, there hasn’t been a way to address the need for the ability to identify resources nationwide.”
That’s all set to change next year with the launch of the National Mutual Aid System (NMAS), a collaborative effort between the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), Intermedix, the global leader of health and safety solutions, and Esri, the global leader in spatial analytics.
The NMAS will be the next generation version of the IAFC’s Mutual Aid Net tool and will use Esri’s ArcGIS, a powerful location intelligence platform, and Intermedix’s WebEOC, a crisis information management solution, to manage and track emergency services resources during mutual aid responses.
As Cole revealed, “All three entities are market leaders in the industry and have had standing relationships with each other for some time now. It dawned on us that we should come together and partner on this effort to make the solution a reality.” Intermedix and ESRI have had a long-standing relationship at a business and technology level. With the extension of NMAS, Intermedix and ESRI will be able to build the product seamlessly.
Cole explained to us that NMAS was designed with the idea that localities would have access to a system that allows them to see what other resources are available nationwide. Through the software, users can make requests, keep track of them and compensate resources appropriately. “NMAS automates everything. We’re taking a very common principle and elevating it to a national level,” he said. The system gives detailed information that you need to effectively deal with incidents at the moment of need.
Cole described a use case in which an agency may need a mission ready package from another state. With NMAS, the user can go in and find where the mission ready package is available through GIS, in addition to the personnel, resources, required trainings, the cost to the state, and how long it will take to deploy the resources.
“We’re taking a very common principle and elevating it to a national level.” Cole concluded, “Now more than ever, we need to be able to deliver information at the point of need and the time of need.”