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Planning Brings Precision to Disaster Response

Evan Koepke

Evan Koepke serves as the Operations Planning Associate and joins TR from the University of Virginia and the world of wilderness rescue. There, he merged an education in planning methods and emergency management with experiences in remote emergency operations. Evan served as Chairman of the Appalachian Search and Rescue Conference, interned with the Homeland Security Institute and Red Cross, and provided training in wilderness SAR and lost person behavior. Free time is dedicated to providing TR an accent of kilt and highland bagpipe.

Disasters are horribly predictable tragedies. Not only is it possible to predict the majority of hazardous events, but also the populations that will suffer from them. This is why emergency management emphasizes the assessment of hazards, hazard exposure, and population vulnerability. This allows communities to understand and mitigate their inherent risk. It’s also critical to guiding response operations in the wake of disaster.

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Volunteers assess flood damage in Lyons, CO during Operation: What The Flood.

Unfortunately, many jurisdictions do not have the resources, training, or personnel to conduct such assessments. This makes it essential for relief organizations to maintain an organic capability for developing this knowledge on short notice. Without this information, it’s impossible to ensure limited relief resources go to those most in need.

Team Rubicon’s planning personnel are adept at conducting these evaluations in support of operational and tactical decision-making. Their products allow TR Incident Commanders to rapidly orient their operations toward vulnerable populations and help partners do the same. Here’s how it happens:

  • Define the Terrain: Planners locate the area affected and identify key geographic features of the natural and man-made environment. This activity is guided by pre-determined essential elements of information.
  • Understand the Population: Population density isn’t enough. Planners analyze open-source population demographics to understand vulnerability and project the community resilience to disaster down to the neighborhood level. Collaboration with community leaders helps refine this understanding during the response.
Using Palantir Technologies, members deployed to Marseilles, IL identify properties in need of flood relief during Operation: Prairie Dog.
Using Palantir Technologies, members deployed to Marseilles, IL identify properties in need of flood relief during Operation: Prairie Dog.
  • Overlay Disaster Impact and Response: Existing assessments and reports are collected from reliable sources to determine community impact. When available, analysis of aerial imagery is used to conduct preliminary damage assessment. Information on existing response efforts are added to find gaps in service provision.
  • Generate and Disseminate Product: Analysis of these layers of information define the communities affected, prioritize them by projected need, and then highlight those yet to receive assistance. Planners condense this information into an easy-to-understand display and send it to decision makers and responders.
Behind-the-scenes on Operation: Starting Gun in Oklahoma in 2013. Brain power + data = tornado relief done right.
Behind-the-scenes controlled chaos on Operation: Starting Gun in Oklahoma in 2013. Brain power + data = tornado relief done right.

It’s just one more service Planners can provide to ensure aid gets to those in need with speed, accuracy, and precision.

Sound like something you’d be interested in doing in support of TR disaster operations? If so, contact your Region’s Planning Manager to explore how to join our Operations Planning Team.