The nerve gas
sarin is surreptitiously released into the unprotected air-conditioning
vent of a Knoxville, Tennessee, high school. Some 500 students and teachers
are affected. Many vomit and cough violently. Others complain of headache,
nausea, blurred vision, and muscle weakness. Paramedics are rushed to
the scene to begin treatment. Some 400 victims are taken to local hospitals,
and all but two survive this terrorist attack.
Then a week later,
at a Tennessee Vols football game attended by 108,000 people, terrorists
release anthrax bacteria in Neyland Stadium. An anonymous letter from
the terrorist group to a local newspaper claims responsibility for exposing
unsuspecting football fans to a biological warfare agent. As a result
of the publicity, thousands of people flood Knoxville hospital emergency
rooms, demanding treatment. Physicians are brought in from other Tennessee
cities and other states to assist local doctors in determining which
patients inhaled the anthrax bacteria and need immediate treatment with
an antibiotic. Additional medical supplies are provided from around
the country to save the lives of the victims.
scenarios are in the minds of the developers of the Responder Assets
Management System (RAMS), a suite of software tools for assisting "first
responders"police, fire, medical, and city emergency personnel.
RAMS is designed to help responders deal more quickly with daily emergencies,
such as fires. It also, however, will better enable emergency personnel
to respond to mass casualty incidents, such as earthquakes and releases
of chemical and biological weapons by terrorists.
software tools will help police, fire, medical, and city emergency
personnel respond more quickly to mass casualty incidents.
RAMS is being developed
for the U.S. Army's Soldier and Biological Chemical Command by Bob Hunter
and Amy King, both of ORNL's Computational Physics and Engineering Division;
Scott McKenney of BWXT Y-12, LLC; and several University of Tennessee
researchers, all of whom are based at the Operations Center of the National
Transportation Research Center. Scheduled for completion by July 2001,
RAMS is being revised using recommendations from first responders in
Atlanta, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland; Knoxville; Salt Lake City, Utah;
and Wichita, Kansas.
tell us what information they need and we tell them what is possible
with the technology," Hunter says. "We have expertise in redefining
problems normally solved on expensive workstations so they can be handled
by low-cost, easy-to-use personal computers. We developed a PC-based
command and control system for the Atlanta police that was used for
the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. Because PCs are cheap and newly hired
responders are often computer literate, now is the time to automate
responders' jobs throughout the nation."
Many of the RAMS
tools will help public safety agencies carry out routine daily functions,
such as timekeeping, scheduling, dispatch analysis to find trends, personnel
training, and equipment tracking. Some of these tools are already being
used by the Atlanta police.
RAMS should help
responders with PCs deal more effectively with traffic flow problems,
thanks to its tools for managing street status information. Responders
will be able to electronically share information in a Web browser. They
can send or read messages that tell which streets are flooded out, impassible
due to an accident or downed power lines and tree limbs, or turned into
one-way lanes to aid traffic flow (e.g., after a big sports event or
in an evacuation in response to hurricane warnings).
RAMS also has
a street management tool that might be used to help responders plan
for an event such as the 2002 Winter Olympics Games in Salt Lake City.
All the traffic management information comes together in an integrated
"situation display"an interactive geographic information systems
map on a big screen that shows what's happening any place in the city
at any time.
A most useful
RAMS tool is the Response Options Generator (ROG), a decision support
tool that enables commanders to better understand and manage a crisis
situation, such as a release of a chemical or biological agent. RAMS
displays the location and status of hospitals, satellite clinics, and
medical equipment. It gives the symptoms of exposure to various agents,
tells whom to notify, and provides links to state and federal emergency
"As you enter
data to profile the situation, ROG identifies the optimal response,
which you can modify," Hunter says. "ROG then automatically generates
a schedule for responders to follow and identifies resource shortfalls.
For example, it tells you how many more medical personnel and medical
supplies you will need brought in to treat the victims of a terrorist
RAMS allows responders
to strike fast, turning scary events into opportunities to save lives.
Computational Physics and Engineering Division
U.S. Army's Soldier
and Biological Chemical Command