The “New Math” Of Emergency Response

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Growing up I was always good with math but hated those “word” problems. You know, the ones – “a train leaves Chicago bound for Detroit at 40 miles per hour, another leaves train leaves Detroit…..” As I got older, I began to appreciate those real-life problems and puzzles and became quite good at figuring them out. Today, figuring out those story problems can play an important role in designing physical preparedness solutions that will meet response objectives.

A good example of the need to correctly solve the story problem is the decision to buy a generator for your emergency response efforts. After all, a generator has that cool factor that appeals to our inner safety nerd – definitely one of those must have’s when you need to power up an EOC or provide lighting for search & rescue efforts. Get a generator, get a gas container, some gas and you’re good to go- right? Like the train word problems, there are many nuances and considerations that must be taken into account to solve the problem and meet the response objectives.Blog Image 4-2-15a

The first consideration is what are you trying to power? If it’s an EOC with some lighting and laptops, then a small to medium generator could do the trick, however; since laptops are now part of the equation, you would need to use an inverter style generator to provide a clean power signal for sensitive equipment such as a computer. If you were trying to light up Yankee Stadium, then the sizing of generators and the number of generators are additional factors.

Next, how is the equipment going to be used? If the task is for search and rescue, transportation of the equipment comes into play. Considerations such as wheels and wheels that can travel over rubble need to be an essential element.

Finally, what is the fuel usage rate? A 6000 watt generator that uses 1.8 gallons per hour won’t meet an objective of running all night if all you have is a 5 gallon gas can (filled of course). The math doesn’t work here.

This blog is not meant to be a “how to” on choosing and sizing generators, but an example of the many factors and considerations that need to be made when designing supply solutions and how they must align to your objectives. All components need careful consideration regarding usage rates, how they are being utilized and what task they are being utilized for to make sure the right item aligns with the right objective. A thorough understanding of the many variables and what the answer needs to be will make the “math” work for an effective response. Now, when does that train from Chicago meet up with the train from Detroit?

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