What started as a routine upgrade of Crisis Management software developed by ESS, turned into a trial by fire when Hurricane Floyd pummeled parts of Delaware with high wind and torrential rains. Two members of a technical support team from Essential Technologies, Inc., were at the Delaware State Emergency Management Agency's new $9 million Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Smyrna, DE, for a walk-through exercise.
During the exercise, ESS' team was going to put the finishing touches on the recent implementation of an ESS Software upgrade. Those plans changed abruptly after the emergency became real - When Hurricane Floyd turned away from South Florida and headed toward the Mid-Atlantic Coast. Floyd's change in direction forced an ESS team from the company's office in Rockville, MD, to quickly become an onsite Crisis Management software task force.
ESS' Crisis Management application is designed to support both emergency response and daily operations by combining client/server and Web technology to support all phases of emergency management. During the 'baptism by fire' in Delaware, the ESS team designed tailored pages for DEMA. One was for damage assessments and the other was simply called the 'Floyd' page. These pages enabled users to click on the appropriate buttons rather than remember complex computer codes to retrieve the information they needed.
Since the new version of the of the software had just been installed, staff members were not fully aware of all its capabilities. The team from ESS brought the damage assessment tool to their attention and also worked with each person individually to get them to the point where they were comfortable with the system. DEMA officials say the software has performed to the degree that even the most adamant anti-software member of the staff thinks every highly of the system.