FEMA and IAFC test new resource management system

Published:  16 March, 2010

The IAFC (International Association of Fire Chiefs), in partnership with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), is working to develop a stakeholder-driven resource-management data system. The system—the IMAS Resource Data, Dispatching and Demobilization (RD3) System—will support the American emergency-response community by automating resource-management activities associated with intrastate mutual aid.

Over the past seven months, the data-system work group, composed of mutual-aid stakeholders from a few IMAS project states, identified system requirements, defined key players and their activities, and developed a mutual-aid system workflow. Based on their input and direction, a resource-management system prototype was developed.

To test the usability of the system, the IAFC teamed up with the Georgia Mutual Aid Group to host an exercise. The participants were actual mutual-aid coordinators who represented a spectrum of anticipated system users. All the participants were asked to complete some portion of the mutual-aid process, such as to fulfil a request or take caller information, based on a simulated but realistic scenario.

During the exercise, the usability test manager didn’t prompt or provide direction to the participants, but did question them about difficulties or uncertainties they experienced while using the system. The Georgia participants were able to identify some important usability flaws that needed to be corrected, such as making some verbiage changes and the need to emphasize action items. The official usability test report is currently being developed and should be finished by early March.

The next step of this project will include analyzing all the feedback that was received and then revising the data and dispatch system prototype and testing the usability of the updated system with a new group of users.

Rebekah Crowell is a program coordinator for the IAFC’s Fire Service Intrastate Mutual Aid System Program. For more information on this project, email Rebekah or call her at 703-537-4856.

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