Why it is Crucial to Track Emergency Response Assets During a Disaster

Natural and man-made disasters have escalated in the last year. Apart from the pandemic, the United States has experienced a record number of hurricanes, numerous wildfires, and more. These natural disasters caused over $1 billion in damage in 2020 alone.


During these periods of calamity, fast and effective emergency response can help reduce the impact of these disasters while simultaneously saving lives and protecting resources. A critical component of this response is the ability to track and deploy the right emergency response assets to end the crisis as soon as possible. However, response teams face significant challenges presented by inconsistent communication infrastructure and the dynamic nature of these emergencies.


Challenges Faced by Response Teams During Emergencies

Communication infrastructure can be unreliable and inconsistent across urban and rural landscapes

As technology improves and LTE-based communications tools become more popular, first responders and emergency response teams have adopted connected technology to improve operational efficiency. A recent report by Cradlepoint revealed that many agencies use as many as nine connected technologies in the field. These technologies are used to enable, track, and communicate with mission critical assets such as ambulances and fire trucks.


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However, the key challenge that first responders face when attempting to use this technology is the unreliability of communication infrastructure during large-scale disasters. The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season highlighted how communication infrastructure can be severely impacted during disasters, particularly in rural areas. This can severely impact the ability of emergency response teams to collaborate and communicate effective strategies to quickly diminish the impact of these disasters.


Despite this, 72% of government agencies said that they did not have a backup carrier to rely on when communications networks were down or unstable. This makes it extremely difficult for command centers to pinpoint the location of mission critical assets and execute complex multi-agency response strategies.


Vehicle routes and response plans change rapidly during dynamic and large-scale disasters

First responders must be flexible and agile when responding to dynamic emergencies. Disruptions and blockages are an unavoidable part of responding to disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes that affect transport infrastructure. It is crucial that each asset in the emergency response fleet is aware of these disruptions and can communicate response times and alternate routes with the command center.


To accomplish this, control operators must combine fleet location data with live traffic data and map routes that can get first responders to the epicenter of the crisis within designated time periods. This can be challenging to accomplish without a holistic overview of fleet activity and traffic data.


How to Use Live Asset Tracking Data to Increase the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Emergency Response Teams

Enable inter-departmental response strategies by eliminating information silos

Practically all emergencies require multiple agencies to collaborate and respond in tandem. Police, ambulances, fire departments, and other first responders work together to create a comprehensive emergency response strategy. For response times to remain low and effectiveness to remain high, control teams must find a way to combine the information provided by all these disparate agencies into one cohesive strategy.


AT&T Fleet Complete’s asset tracking system allows control teams to receive near real-time location data of all available assets, regardless of the agency they come from. Combining asset tracking data with uninterrupted communications allows control teams to craft and execute response strategies that span multiple first response agencies without sacrificing efficiency or effectiveness.


Plan response strategies based on real-time location and traffic data

Response time is a major factor affecting the success of any emergency response effort. Quickly responding to an emergency can help first responders save more lives and reduce unnecessary damage to critical infrastructure. Recent response time data indicates that population density has a direct impact on response times, with Wyoming, Montana, and Vermont recording the longest response times.


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GPS-based asset trackers and real-time traffic data allow control rooms to chart the fastest and most efficient path for first responders to take in the event of an emergency. Being able to track mission-critical assets and chart individual paths for each vehicle also reduces the likelihood of crowding in underdeveloped areas, which are less likely to be able to accommodate a full fleet of emergency vehicles on a single road.


Deploy the most appropriate resources to an emergency with full visibility of the response fleet

Each emergency is unique and the tools needed to combat the challenge also shift depending on the requirements of the particular situation. An emergency in an area with a higher proportion of elderly people, for example, would require a larger fleet of ambulances.


Fleet tracking systems must go beyond GPS locations and provide granular information regarding the tools available on each vehicle. Advanced fleet telematics allow control teams to view and analyze performance data, the availability of specialized medical equipment, and location data. All these data points provide emergency response teams with the information needed to deploy the appropriate resources to any given emergency.


How Technology has Evolved to Enable Better Asset Tracking

Emergency response strategies have evolved beyond simple call and respond methods to encompass GPS tracking of fleet assets, large-scale inter-department efforts, and specialized response tools. With the introduction of mobile communications units, GPS-based trackers, and advanced fleet telematics, emergency response teams are equipped with all the information they need to develop an effective response strategy that can save the maximum number of lives while minimizing damage to natural and man-made resources.


To find out how live fleet tracking software can help your first response teams be more efficient and effective, request a demo of our suite of solutions today.

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