FEMA eyes technology for emergency response

Written by Staff Writer at CNN

Conducting emergency responses can be a touchy and complex process. There are steps that must be followed — what often calls for limited coverage to protect volunteers and other involved parties — and which may become overly sensitive in an emergency.

In Texas and Louisiana, emergency responders often carry radio receivers and low tech signaling devices to locate potential survivors.

The US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has outlined a request for information — examining how closely such communication systems match up with their more modern counterparts.

The decibel radar aerial system can determine where an earthquake or tornado is — even with debris raining down — an indication that survivors might not be able to be located. At the heart of its system, FEMA notes, is the ability to detect and respond to such events.

It might not be too long until US states and cities will start to follow suit.

France is set to test its 35,000-foot network of seismic detectors known as De Rouins. Emergency officials there say they’re ready for a significant test, given that their system was used to locate survivors during the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

They’re now looking to open up the test to the entire continental United States.

Karine Soumet, operations director at the National Center for Scientific Research, says disaster research is “adding another frontier to our safety for the future.”

Building the next generation of rescue systems to track missing persons and locate survivors is a seemingly “necessary step,” Soumet says.

“They also develop sensors for emergencies, like storm-chasing, oil spills or deforestation.”

The geographic footprint of the country, with its long geography and large mass of people, means that ensuring compliance across the nation will be difficult.

That’s what FEMA is seeking to address, as it looks to optimize the long and difficult task of remaining ahead of safety emergencies — then unraveling them afterwards.

Officials stress that emergency responders already use advance detection and training programs to ensure access to their systems is spot-on and applicable across the country.

Recognizing some recent examples of less than successful activations by emergency responders, the organization is seeking out new methods and solutions to address the existing and future crises they face.

Among the areas being considered are locating natural gas leaks, locating emergency and rescue resources, and tracking and finding homeless people in emergencies.

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