At the dawn of the 21st century, emergency managers must be cognizant of and prepared to deploy new and promising knowledge technologies.123456789 These emerging technologies hold the potential of promoting system efficiency and effectiveness in emergency management. 10111213141516171819 One of the key developments in information technology is integrated emergency support systems (IESS). These decision support systems address the specific strategical planning, analytical, communication and management information needs of emergency managers through advanced multimedia software and telecommunications. 2021 As the foundation for decision support of emergency activities, IESS monitor organizational effectiveness through pre-defined performance indicators, objectives, targets, and plans. They also facilitate systems communications by providing critical linkages to key external organizations, including all levels of government, emergency bodies, health facilities, police and fire services, social agencies, professional associations, emergency providers, institutional suppliers and service communities.
This paper examines the characteristics and specific implications of integrated emergency support systems for regional emergency managers in North America. The critical success factors in IESS are highlighted through a review of key strategic development, control and leadership issues. The paper concludes with a commentary on the fundamental significance of IESS technologies for emergency management.
Bioterrorist anarchy in a capital city: a pre-IESS scenario
Imagine it is one minute to noon on December 20. Thousands of employees from four federal government buildings and two adjacent high-tech companies are preparing to stream out of their offices to an adjoining shopping mall for a quick lunch and Christmas shopping. The shopping complex is connected via tunnels to all six office towers. Unbeknownst to all, a coalition of international terrorist groups has strategically planted twenty tanks of a sarin-type substance at each major building's connection to the shopping mall, where pedestrian traffic is heaviest. The gases are released at precisely noon with devastating effect and impact. Chaos, shock, and utter anarchy reign supreme.
Although each government department has a separate disaster plan, none of these plans are ever coordinated, integrated, nor tested. Nor are the high-tech firms better prepared, as their disaster plans are limited to protecting their information systems, not people's lives. The 911 systems are immediately paralyzed with frantic calls and are unable to cope with the situation. Police, fire and ambulance services rush to the scene, unaware of the true nature and magnitude of the crisis. Moreover, the first responders are unaware of and ill-equipped for the imminent danger they find themselves in. The sarin attack and its consequent devastation, the sheer incredulity and insanity of such an event, are beyond human comprehension. As minutes tick by in an atmosphere of anarchy and confusion, the mortality rates grow exponentially and do not level nor decline until four hours later, when emergency managers of diverse agencies finally start to cooperate to cope with the situation. The lack of coordination between first responders and hospitals results in hundreds of casualties over the next six months. The economic losses to both the federal government and public sectors are incalculable.
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