ing, the value added from a multifunction
tool can be a critical determinant in the
purchase or rental decision. For example,
thermal imaging cameras are purchased for
their impact on rapid search and rescue of
trapped occupants, but they can also assist
with determining the extent of a hazardous materials spill in a stream, identifying
the level of product in a container, and
many other nonconventional applications.
Allowing responders to test and play with
products before purchase will also help in
identifying strengths and with the adoption
of the product as a piece of equipment that
will be used.
As with personnel, the costs associated with
purchase or lease need to be fully realized.
This includes the initial outlay and maintenance, replacement cycle and expected life
span, and the need for cascading purchases.
Knowing the cost of the product and its
critical maintenance requirements will help
identify costs over the life of the purchase. As
a rule of thumb, the greater the technology,
the more maintenance that is required to
keep the equipment or technology operating
at capacity. Lifespan may be based on use,
time of operation, or time from installation or purchase. The manufacturer will
likely be able to provide a predicted lifespan
for a purchase, but it is best to speak with
other organizations that have adopted the
tool. Reaching out to peers for information
regarding maintenance and lifespan issues
is as critical as speaking to end users when
determining if the purchase will meet your
organizational needs. Finally, assess the purchase for further, cascading purchases. This is
common in the application of new technologies, where purchases of future software and
hardware as well as methods to connect to
the Internet may be required to keep systems
operational. As part of the assessment process,
it is critical to factor in cascading purchases
to fully realize the benefit of the purchase and
implementation of new tools and technologies into the organization.
RESPONSE GAP QUESTIONS
In determining how to address response
• Has anyone else had this issue? How
gaps, it is critical to ask the following
• Is there really a gap, or is the issue being
driven by other forces? What is the real
issue? Is it a real issue?
did they address it?
• Is this an issue that my organization is in
a position to address?
• Is there someone else who is a better fit
to address the problem?
• What is needed to fill the gap (may be
more than one)?
–Reduce or eliminate the problem?
–Deploy personnel to address the
–Change policies, procedures, or
tactics to address the problem?
–Train personnel to address the
–Deploy equipment (tools and tech-
nology) to address the problem?
• Do we have the right equipment (tools
and technology) to address the problem
–If not, what do we need?
• Does someone else have the equipment
and, if so, can I use it? Can I rent it?
Contract it out?
• What are the initial costs? Annual costs?
• Are any other purchases needed to sup-
Once these questions have been
answered, you will be able to identify the
strengths and weaknesses of the methods
chosen to address the problem, determine
options, analyze costs and outcomes, and
select the appropriate response for meeting
your community’s needs.
Unfortunately, emergency services are
not the proper responder for all incidents.
Determining the appropriate response
demonstrates sound stewardship of public
funds and trust, ensuring that services are
being delivered by the right organization,
correctly, and at the best value. Building
partnerships throughout the community
and identifying resource gaps and abilities
are critical to achieving the goal of a safe
community with adequate, appropriate
response resource capabilities.
Dave Donohue, MA, CEM, EMT-P, MEP, has been active
in the emergency services field for more than 35 years,
serving with several departments in Florida, West
Virginia, and Maryland, and as a federal emergency
responder. He is the owner of Mid-Atlantic Emergency
and Safety Consultants, LLC. He can be reached at