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I'm designing a dashboard for Incident Commanders to use for enhanced situational awareness during emergencies. 

Fires spread rapidly, leaving victims with very little time to make phone calls, gather valuables or in some cases, exit the building. In as little as two minutes a fire can become life-threatening. Fire officers arrive as soon as they can and use standard operating procedures to effectively manage the incident scene, save lives and extinguish the fire.

From my research, I understand that not all officers enter the burning structure. The incident commander waits on the outside, assesses the situation and delegates tasks to officers and arriving engines. Under the immediate pressure of the emergency, he is required to make reasonable decisions and determine the best strategy possible to overcome the fire.

Incident commanders rely heavily on radio communications to derive information that can be used to make these decisions. Fire conditions change rapidly and firefighters often face pressure to continuously relay information about these changing conditions to commanders while simultaneously performing other tasks such as carrying the hose-line to extinguish the fire and rescuing trapped victims.

By placing sensors in the equipment and gear worn by the firefighters, data about the health status, location and activities of the officers can be tracked. This information can be represented on the dashboard interface which commanders can then use to make informed decisions instead of solely replying on radio communications. Such an interface could also eliminate the need for firefighters to radio in problems or status updates, allowing them to simply focus on extinguishing the fire and saving lives.

Here are a few ideas I have on what the dashboard could offer. I'd love to hear feedback (especially from fire officers) on which of these elements would be great to have during the emergency and any other ideas this brings to mind.

Any feedback will be very appreciated! If you'd like to continue to send me feedback and stay involved in the project, please do let me know.

Thank you!

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Comment by Lieutenant Frederick Georges on March 8, 2015 at 7:23pm

I feel most all of what you have proposed above are needed and practical apps for the dashboard. You have covered every area of concern for the incident commander including my responsibility as an apparatus operator with the "resources" tabs, both on scene and additional.

The only thing I do not see are tabs for the Police and EMS which are essential components for traffic, crowd control and trauma victims. But these could simply be included on the resources tabs.


Comment by Captain Dennis Thain ( Retired) on March 8, 2015 at 6:20pm

Hi Aastha ,

I started on the fire department when we still stood on the backboard and in the times when safety just started to take precedence for the good of the Firefighter, we must continue to make this number one in our fire fighting work. I see you have a good start with your dashboard checklist for incident commanders.  One item I would put there would be to have a safety officer in place on scene to make sure the crews are suited up properly and using all equipment in a safe manner. I am sorry to say with all the safety and training given, some still want to be a hero they must be kept in check for the safety of others, everyone must get home to their families after a fire.

This is very good when everything is in place on the scene, but for the first truck on the scene many things happen at once with a very lean crew, especially when a crowd has gathered and wonder why no white stuff is going on the red stuff as soon as we get there so many things must be evaluated  first and radioed back to responding units, I know from experience sorting out the essentials from a thousand things going on in your head the right ones to pick out in seconds.  Good luck to you and hope I have been of some help,

Captain Dennis Thain (Retired)


Comment by Aastha Bhargava on March 8, 2015 at 3:10pm

Thank you very much Lieutenant Frederick Georges! This is my thesis project at grad school and it's very important to me. I'd really appreciate the feedback.  

Comment by Lieutenant Frederick Georges on March 8, 2015 at 3:08pm

Thank you for this input!

I will encourage the others to take notice and correspond their thoughts to your side.
















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