Florida Shines During Stage 5 Hurricane Response
By Upp Technology
How the Florida Division of Emergency Management Executed a Perfect Logistical Response to Hurricane Matthew with the irms|EM Emergency Management System
On October 4th, 2016, torrential rain and 145 mile-per-hour winds slammed into the coast of Haiti as Hurricane Matthew decimated buildings and flooded roadways across the country. The storm devastated an already struggling population as nearly 900 lives were lost. Survivors were left searching for shelter, clean water, and food, while hundreds of patients sought treatment for cholera in makeshift clinics across the island nation.
Once Matthew reached the eastern Caribbean, it became a hurricane and rapidly intensified. Its peak intensity was late Sept. 30 into early Oct. 1 when it reached Category 5 strength with 160 mph winds.
A mere 700 miles away, the Florida Division of Emergency Management initiated a Level 1 State Emergency Response as they prepared for this destructive storm. In this full-scale activation, all primary and supporting agencies, and partners under the state plan were notified to coordinate the effort including the Florida National Guard, FEMA, and the American Red Cross. As the Division trusts the irms|EM Emergency Management System for distribution and tracking of emergency inventory, resources, and supplies, Upp Technology representatives immediately joined in the response. Developed for hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and any other emergency response, Upp's emergency management software enables emergency officials to receive, stage, store, allocate, mobilize and track critical resources for those in need.
“Florida has an incredible response team,” stated Upp Technology Director Jason Shattuck. “Florida has such a comprehensive response plan that every person was laser-focused on their mission and had a clear understanding of the tasks they had to execute.”
Unlike with biological events like the H1N1 flu pandemic, a hurricane allows officials a brief period to stage the response. The logistical challenge is in reacting to the storm’s movement and redirecting where supplies need to go. The wealth of real-time data coming in rapidly from a variety of sources and management of the systems, technology, and communication of that data make the task much more challenging.
With the storm tracking as a level 5 hurricane, the Division’s coordinated response was massive in scale. Truckloads of relief supplies were requisitioned to bring in bottled water, pre-packaged meals, tarps, sanitary kits, porta-potties, and more. The State also positioned empty box and refrigerated trucks for mission critical inventory and equipment storage and delivery to affected areas.
The State managed this immense flow of resources from a central Emergency Operations Center. Supplies came in from the Division-managed logistics center and were received directly from private vendors, nationally managed stockpiles, and non-profit organizations like the American Red Cross. The response included multiple Logistical Staging Areas (LSA) setup in strategic locations across the state to direct supplies to Remote Staging Areas (RSA) that would provide critical relief to communities impacted by the storm. This fluid distribution network was designed to quickly and efficiently move resources to the hardest-hit areas while adapting to changes in the storm’s trajectory.
With automated data capture from bar codes, the irms|EM Emergency Management System was populated with inventory and transactional data in real-time, allowing operators to make business decisions in seconds. The system generated barcodes for each storage trailer so that managers could track the exact quantity of supplies at each location. irms|EM additionally created picking documentation to show where supplies were stored and packing documentation to indicate where each shipment would be sent.
This built-in workflow enabled disaster response officials viewing irms|EM system dashboards hundreds of miles away in Orlando to have a real-time, continuous view of supplies on the ground in Miami, and every LSA throughout the State of Florida. Comprehensive visibility of all inventory within the State’s network allowed officials to direct and re-direct resources as the response was taking place. Emergency managers could view packing lists of shipments moving throughout the State and see the inventory of trailers at any location. Following the hurricane, Upp personnel produced comprehensive after action reports providing a complete recap on the movement and location of all state emergency resources, including tracking reports on all items shipped during the response and status reports on current inventory levels.
Upon activation of the States’ Level 1 status, an Upp Technology Emergency Response Team reported to the central Emergency Operations Center to support the relief effort. The Upp team immediately set up Just In Time™ (JIT) Training classes for responders headed to remote staging areas. Our JIT Training program provides real-world, practical irms|EM system training designed for immediate task execution. This training was vital for instructing response teams on how to correctly receive, store and ship critical supplies and equipment during the storm.
“Their response immediately got down to business from the time they arrived,” stated Brant Pearson, Upp Technology Director. “The State’s plan started with Just-In-Time training for personnel who would manage the LSAs and RSAs. These teams quickly learned how to use the irms|EM system and executed a real-time go live to perfection.”
The irms|EM Emergency Management System provides the State with complete control of the receipt, staging and mobilization of emergency supplies, resources, and response equipment. The system allows state officials to locate and mobilize resources before, during and after an emergency event and provides a verifiable audit trail as required by the U.S. government in the handling of controlled substances such as vaccines and antivirals.
Hurricane Matthew did less damage than initially anticipated, but this created a new challenge for the response team. Following the storm, the focus shifted to tracking supplies and resources from staging areas back to their points of origin or central storage locations. Providing a secure chain of custody upstream, irms|EM directed the process by providing up-to-the-minute visibility of items that needed to be returned.
Committed to Florida's Success
A special thank you to Upp Technology Emergency Management Response Team members Brant Pearson and Jason Shattuck who immediately responded to Hurricane Matthew after moving to Level 1 status. The team provided 24 hour-a-day support working 14-hour shifts assisting the Florida National Guard and the Division of Emergency Management with the distribution of relief supplies and equipment. Upp personnel also provided vital equipment readiness services including barcode printer and scanner configuration, network connectivity, and laptop configuration for the central and remote staging areas teams.