With a common goal of enhancing multi-agency emergency response efforts, Mission Manager, Inc. and HELP Disaster Management, Inc. teamed up at the Emergency Management & Homeland Security Expo (EMEX), held Nov. 18-19 in San Antonio, Texas, to showcase their core capabilities to emergency managers from around the globe.
Mission Manager – a leading provider of cloud-based emergency management software – helps first responders increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their team’s daily operations and overall emergency response efforts. HELP Disaster Management, based in Houston, Texas, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that supports the emergency management community in the areas of incident management, event management, planning support, and training and exercise.
At EMEX, the robust software was demonstrated at Mission Manager’s booth as well as the HELP Disaster Management’s exhibit, which comprised a large, deployable shelter provided by Western Shelter Systems. On hand were nearly a dozen Incident Management Team (IMT) members, who are part of a multi-disciplinary 50-member team available to support local, regional state and national responses.
During their VIP tours at EMEX, HELP Disaster Management personnel showcased some of the latest innovations in field hygiene, medical support and incident command applications. They also demonstrated how Mission Manager supported their operations with its resource tracking, timekeeping, notification and messaging functions.
HELP, which adopted Mission Manager in July 2013, has used the software to conduct eight missions and send over 3,600 messages to its members.
“Mission Manager is a perfect solution for us,” said Tony Lamberth, the organization’s founder. “We use Mission Manager as a day-to-day tool to track and manage our team and communicate with members during deployments. It has helped us tremendously with our collaboration and data collection.”
Tony noted that HELP currently uses Mission Manager to supplement the state of Texas’ incident qualification system, or IQS. “We have already started the migration of data to utilize Mission Manager as our main IQS. This data could then possibly be exported to each state’s incident qualification systems,” he said.
HELP’s recent missions include tornado responses in Kentucky, Missouri and Alabama. Its team members were also deployed to Eagle Pass, Texas after major floods destroyed homes and businesses throughout the region in June 18 of 2013. HELP Disaster Management supported Eagle Pass by managing volunteers.
Personnel and asset management is vital for the organization as it continues to expand. Among its goals, HELP is working to grow their IMT team to 300 members in three years as part of its “300 x 3” campaign. The organization is also regionalizing all operations into 10 regions that mirror the FEMA regions.
Until now, Mission Manager has played a key role for their team organization; however, Tony said they are currently learning new features that will allow them to use Mission Manager more extensively during deployments.
“I have been very pleased with Mission Manager’s level of support and technical upgrades since it was re-launched in July 2014,” Tony said. “I’ve used many other incident management software programs, but I always end up coming back to Mission Manager.”
As one of a few non-government organization (NGO) IMTs in Texas, HELP IMT represents the next generation of emergency management response capabilities, which it dubs “Generation 3 (GEN3) IMT.” The GEN3 Team has a core group of leaders that are seasoned responders and highly knowledgeable of the Incident Command System.
“We have incredible talent on our team, including subject-matter experts from all over the country – forensic scientists, meteorologists, business continuity experts – highly skilled top-level professionals with day jobs. The people in this business are driven by their passion to serve and use their skills to help others when disaster occurs. They’re not driven by money or notoriety,” said Erika Lamberth, Public Information Officer for the organization.
Erika emphasized that while the organization is nonprofit, it is not all-volunteer. Team members are paid per FEMA reimbursement rates. Most of their training and meetings are conducted virtually or at events such as EMEX, where many new members took advantage of the opportunity to learn many of Mission Manager’s new features.
Lamberth said he particularly likes the fact that Mission Manager can be used off-line and is automatically synched when internet connectivity becomes available. “This is important during a major disaster, because most of the time, we don’t have the luxury of internet access and other technologies. That’s why the GEN3 team must have the ability to quickly manage an incident with pen and paper.”
HELP operates under the principles of the National Incident Management System, or NIMS. During times of emergency, HELP’s All Hazards Type 3 Incident Management Team (AHIMT) is available to provide support as requested by local jurisdictions, other non-profit organizations, or any state or federal agency. The HELP IMT has a launch time of less than six hours and an on-scene time guaranteed of less than 24 hours.
“We come in when local government agencies are overwhelmed, but we do not self-deploy. When a disaster strikes, we reach out to emergency management coordinators to see how we can help. We also have pre-disaster contracts in place so agencies know we’re ready to help 24/7,” said Erika.
The diversity of their team from around the U.S. gives them leverage to respond with a national reach. They are also adaptable to the community, providing only what is needed, such as a single source to support an Emergency Operations Center or a full team to manage multiple volunteer reception centers.
HELP is seen as a “quick-in, high-quality organization that can maneuver easily through the response system,” according to Tony. A benefit of the GEN Team is that they are readily available to respond as requested to incidents, in communities around the country at a lower cost to the jurisdiction.
“We have a competitive edge because we’re non-jurisdictional. As a 501(c)3 non-profit agency, we can respond at a significantly lower cost than standard government deployments. And cost savings alone can exceed 50%, as with the case at Eagle Pass,” said Tony, adding that past responses have proven that HELP team deployments provide jurisdictions with substantial savings.
Each regional team is led by a Regional Director who is responsible for situational awareness and coordinating HELP initiatives within their respective areas. This regional management approach allows HELP to support communities more efficiently, and with a tailored approach, whether their need is preparedness, mitigation, response or recovery services.
For more information on how to join HELP or donate, please call 713-715-9005.