Operation Respond originated in the early 1990’s as a secure hazmat cargo data exchange between the railroads serving Houston and the area’s emergency responders, to be used by responders in incidents, leaks and wrecks. Those pre-arranged, secure links, developed in collaboration with participating railroads, enabled emergency responders and managers to save precious minutes in obtaining confirmations of dangerous cargoes and establishing safe response actions.
To meet today’s complex emergency response needs, the Operation Respond Emergency Information System (OREIS™) software is now completing an evolution into a web-based platform for accessing critical, lifesaving information for railroad incidents that involve dangerous goods, together with built-in information useful when dealing with other hazmat accidents and incidents that may occur in the industrial and agricultural logistics chains.
Transportation and other hazmat-related accidents and incidents are by their nature unpredictable as to occurrence and severity. The possibility of encountering hazardous materials or WMD must be a prime consideration whenever emergency responders arrive at the scene of any accident or incident that could affect the public. Moreover, terrorist or military acts or natural or man-made disasters nearly always involve hazardous materials or WMD.
The bottom line is: All civil and military responders must be prepared to perform their duties safely and efficiently when they encounter dangerous or weaponized materials. In many cases, the primary responder is a public safety officer, who may be forced to deal with a number of requirements at the immediate scene of an accident or incident, not the least of which may be a hazmat release.
This need for enhanced safety and usefulness argues for an easy-to-use, secure wireless application that provides on-demand information, particularly for rail cargoes that is not a burden to carry, and is easily trained. The new Operation Respond Emergency Information System (OREIS™) is intended to be that tool.
The new web-based OREIS™ is now under development and supersedes the older CD-based system which can no longer be supported. Beta-tests of the new version are expected to be completed by fall, 2013. More information regarding availability to the North American response community will be released after the conclusion of those tests and evaluations.
Operation Respond will assist First Responders to get the information they need. Using Operation Respond, first responders will have an additional tool to prepare the scene to receive trained specialists that may be required, and foremost, save valuable time in hazard confirmation and on-scene assessment operations in railroad and other incidents.
With millions of daily movements of industrial and agricultural chemical, radiological and other hazardous materials within North America’s vast transportation and logistics networks, public safety and the prompt mitigation of consequences is a paramount concern. And knowing what one may be dealing with in the early stage of any incident is often the primary difference between a well-organized response and an out-of-control situation – particularly in dealing with a rail hazmat incident.
The key to safe, immediate response assessment and action is having accurate information available at the scene – as soon as practical. It's in those first few, critical minutes that responders must take actions to accurately assess the situation, safeguard lives and property, and prepare the scene for arriving fire, medical, military or civil hazardous materials responders. Especially in the case of a rail or intermodal transportation incident, information needed includes verification of the contents of a rail or intermodal vehicle and immediate reference to the proper emergency response actions.
Accordingly, Operation Respond is being designed to fulfill that urgent need by providing a series of unique, secure, cloud-based information and guidance capabilities that empower responders and command authorities to access that lifesaving information – at the scene of that incident. And Operation Respond will remain a proven, accepted platform for the deployment of all-hazards response information that would empower responders who may face complex natural and industrial disasters and national security incidents with critically needed information – not just rail incidents.