Crisis response capabilities are coming under increasing scrutiny in most areas of the world. Globalisation, coupled with population growth and contemporary security issues, is bringing with it a whole new set of challenges to effectively responding to an emergency. From large-scale international sporting events to the ever present threat of natural disasters, the need for intuitive technology that enables a joined-up, collaborative crisis response has never been greater. In Europe and around the world, the clamour for such technology has been getting louder and Intermedix is responding to the call.
The role of technology is becoming more important in disaster preparedness and response because of the need for interoperability and the ability to exchange information simultaneously across multiple agencies. This is important when tackling major fires, where a co-ordinated response can be vital in preventing a crisis from becoming a series of mixed responses and a logistical nightmare.
Agencies across the world recognise that being reactive is simply not an option and that as in so many cases, preparedness is key. While natural disasters cannot always be prevented, having a plan and the tools to manage them in advance has been shown to save lives.
Viewed through this prism, disaster management tools and techniques have changed and improved radically thanks to custom built technology platforms that have moved spreadsheets and whiteboards to web-based software and dashboards.
This move allows for multi-agency coordination and real-time exchange of life-saving information. While spreadsheets are inherently retroactive, and therefore out of date, the next generation of crisis management software allows real-time gathering and reporting of incidents and information.
Intermedix Global CEO, Joel Portice, has spent time in the UK and Europe introducing the benefits of the system that is driving a global revolution in the crisis management arena. From nuclear power stations to fire departments, the state-of-the-art software, WebEOC, is deployed worldwide because the foundation of effective emergency preparedness is the same across industries the world over.
WebEOC was first developed as a tool for crisis preparedness and response and has additionally evolved to effectively support daily operations and communications. The latest version of the software was released last year and the company is constantly striving to innovate to fulfil its mission of serving those who save lives.
When it comes to emergency response, it is essential to be able to share information as a situation develops. WebEOC allows fire, police and ambulance agencies to receive status reports and notifications, coupled with the ability to notify other relevant national agencies as required. Latest advances include sending and receiving such reports direct to a smartphone, allowing those on the ground at the heart of the inner cordon to have access to the very latest updates as they are happening not after the fact.
According to Portice, Intermedix “connects the healthcare and emergency response and preparedness ‘ecosystem’ which is made up of four components: first responders, healthcare providers, government agencies and commercial corporations. “We’re the only company that has developed a platform to bring all of parts of this ecosystem together in the event of a crisis,” explained Portice. “Any organisation that could be affected by an emergency or disaster, whether it’s manmade or natural, is a potential Intermedix customer.”
Experience counts when responding to disasters, which is why the emergency services carry out so many drills and why Intermedix is trusted to deliver the software solutions. WebEOC allows simulations and real events to be analysed so any lessons to be learned are proactively documented for the future. In the US, WebEOC was used to coordinate the response to the wildfires in San Diego in 2007 and 2015 and the response to the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. The 2007 San Diego fire blazed through some 380,000 acres of California and led to over 300,000 people being evacuated.
Such a major movement of people during an emergency could not have taken place successfully if the involved agencies did not have a trusted plan in place, and the personnel and the tools to manage it. Thanks to WebEOC, state and local emergency responders were able to draw on experience from past crisis management simulations to deliver a successful outcome. In the wake of natural disasters, open and clear communication within fire departments and between other first responders is critical. The more seamless the communication, the more effective the response can be. This is equally valuable when responding to acts of domestic terrorism, such as the Boston Marathon Bombings.
The official ‘After action report for the response to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings’ in the US recognised WebEOC as being a key factor in best practice. With a marathon course that crossed eight local territory boundaries, the preparedness, response and recovery involved cross-agency coordination and communication across federal, state and local public safety, emergency services, healthcare providers and medical partners.
It is a reassurance for agencies considering WebEOC to know they are using a system that has been ‘battletested’ in a number of different scenarios and has proven itself robust and reliable over many decades of use. WebEOC is now in use worldwide and is recognised as the standard response to every crisis. Correspondingly, Intermedix has always had a global outlook, because crisis management is not restricted to just one country.
Portice explained, “We’re a global company and we have some of the world’s leading experts in our team. Most of the potential disasters that occur in the world have common themes that can be planned for. We will never be able to eradicate the risk of disasters, despite our best efforts, we can make absolutely sure that we are as prepared as possible for any eventuality.
WebEOC supports the emergency preparedness professionals that need to be prepared for these eventualities with accurate, real-time information surrounding incidents and the ability to access information from multiple locations. Live information can be shared between responders, and once approved, non-classified data from WebEOC can be shared with the public and media as required.
As for the future? Portice said: “We will continue to innovate and advance the ways in which we serve those who focus on their priorities of saving lives and limiting damage. We are investing in our European base in the UK, and with this I will be spending more time in Europe to develop relationships with our European partners.”
There has been a growing appreciation in Europe that proven crisis management software can prove useful in a host of situations, which has led Intermedix to enhance its presence with a new UK headquarters in Reading, Berkshire to support these emerging European clients. The advantages of using a system that has already proved its worth on the global stage is attractive to those continental agencies who need tailor made solutions that meet their needs today and are customisable for the challenges of tomorrow.
“We’re an international company with a global staff and a global mind-set,” added Portice. “We have expertise in EPRR (Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response) nuances in different countries and different cultures throughout the world. I’m proud we have some of the world’s best technology and analytic innovators working at Intermedix, as well as leaders from an EPRR and first response background, many of who themselves have personal experience of front-line emergency response.”
Intermedix is an established company with proven global technology solutions, serving emergency responders, government agencies and corporations. It has more than 2,500 employees around the globe and provides services and solutions in more than 25 countries located in North America, Australasia and the Middle East.
The company’s crisis management solutions are used by more than 15,000 customers, including government state and federal agencies, emergency responders, military, healthcare providers, energy plants, and corporations. It is estimated that in every single major incident in the US, at least one agency involved will be using the company’s WebEOC technology to manage the crisis response and post-event recovery. Intermedix aims to continue investing in WebEOC to deliver the same levels of service as part of the firm’s ongoing European expansion programme.
“At Intermedix we have a simple mission. It’s six words: To serve those who save lives. Our whole focus is to use our technology, our people and our resources, in order to help those responders focus on their mission. We will continue to do that and I think that comes across, not only in better technology, in more precise analysis and information, it comes from doing everything we can to promote and enhance the communication between agencies,” concluded Portice.
For more information, go to www.intermedix.co.uk