Warren adds new crisis management system

Warren County Fire and Rescue will be able to better operate during emergency situations with the addition of Crisis Track, a multi-function program that allows emergency personnel to better gauge the scale and location of emergencies in addition to several other functions, said Shawn Graber, Warren County Fire and Rescue’s deputy emergency manager.

“It’s a multi system computer program and it’s used for a multitude of things,” Graber said. “It’s used for emergency operations center management. If you ever declare a natural disaster, it (Crisis Track) would be able to manage the functions of the emergency operations center. It also works for search and rescue. You can assign geographic areas for teams and it will track those individuals on the ground virtually in real time.”

The location of search and rescue parties and any individual being tracked by the system is determined through cell phones and is data-driven. Due to this fact, the system’s ability to locate those it is tracking will be unaffected by the clogging effect felt by many trying to make phone calls following emergencies.

Crisis Track uses cloud-based software and can be used on any mobile phone or computer as long as there is a strong internet connection, said Graber.

Graber also said that should evacuations be necessary, Crisis Track provides fast and valuable information to all kinds of personnel.

“We have a lot of wildfire risk (in the area),” Graber said. “If we need to do an evacuation it will help us get an idea of how many people we’ll need to evacuate, which can help us determine how many shelters we’ll need to open. It gives them some lead time as far as what we need to be prepared for. It’s also great for flooding – we can do the same thing for that.”

Instituted in July, additions to the system are ongoing. Graber said that one such valuable addition will be a feature that will allow citizens to add input to the system. For example, if the state of a given area is unknown to rescue personnel, citizens who may be in the area or in danger can let authorities know virtually instantaneously and resources can be allocated as needed.

“There will be a link on our Fire and Rescue website called citizens input,” Graber said. “If there’s a disaster declared to something like that, a citizen can upload some pictures and fill out some comment forms and tell us what they need.”

Graber said the system can also be used to keep children safe should a disaster occur.

“If we have an area such as a wildfire or a flood, if it happened during a school day, we can give a list of names for the homeowners of who’s been evacuated and then we can make arrangements for those kids,” he said. “The last thing you want to do is send kids to an evacuated area.”

Graber said that the system’s cost of $4,700 was offset by a local emergency planning grant.

The Warren County Crisis Track can also be combined with Crisis Track systems from other area counties should agencies need to team up, Graber said.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com