Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

App puts first responders on the same page

By Dave Smith

21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — During an emergency situation, several first responders arrive on the scene, ready to leap into action, doing their specific jobs to bring about a safe result. If each group uses a different version of a map, floor plan or hazardous material information, more problems can arise in addition to the original challenge.

To alleviate some of those potential problems, Staff Sgt. Edward Halper, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron engineering journeyman, developed a Rapid Response Mapping Platform application for Team Pete first responders. The app allows emergency personnel to look at the same, up-to-date information and form cohesive plans working from the same data.

The Rapid Response Mapping Platform is a database system using Microsoft Access and maps of each building on the base, along with the crucial information about each structure, all accessible from laptop computers, tablets and cell phones.

“Because it uses premade maps, everyone has the same map,” Halper said. “Everybody is literally on the same page.”

The idea to create a common, useable platform for Peterson first responders came from conversations between Halper and Senior Master Sgt. David Colon, 21st Security Forces Squadron operations superintendent. Halper was experienced with Microsoft Access and had an idea he asked to try out. Gaining approval, he developed the platform using the widely available program.

After about two months of dedicated work, he had something ready to demonstrate by February 2016. Initially the platform only featured high priority facilities on Peterson Air Force Base, but it was enough to show the RRMP’s value.

Halper loaded the platform with features, making it a one-stop point of information for first responders.

“I would like to stress that one of the things this system does is it enhances the communication between first responders,” Colon said. “It has been noted during exercises and inspections at many different locations, that a lack of a common picture between first responders has led to noted discrepancies.”

In order to keep a common picture in front of first responders, Halper incorporated more than 1,000 maps into the RRMP. Maps and floorplans were created and then exported as PDF files to allow common accessibility across devices and operating systems. Users can call up data quickly and zoom in to see greater detail, Halper said.

First responders can search information by zone on base, building number and even specific room numbers. Building information like actual addresses, building manager names and satellite imagery can be found from a side bar on the screen. Other important information like the location of temporary control points and safety cordons of 300, 500, and 1,000 feet are shown per facility, too.

“We pulled information from the pre-fire plans,” Halper said. “We’re using existing maps and creating new ones for this platform. This is to get all first responders on the same page.”

“The pre-fire plan is an important part of overall capabilities,” said Roger Clarke, 21st CES execution support chief. “(Data) is always changing with buildings. Now not only the fire department sees the updated facility information, but so does the security forces squadron, and they’ve not had that in the past.”

The platform shined when it was used in exercise scenarios. In fact, the first time it was tested the scenario became a real-world situation and performed well, Halper said. In an active-shooter drill during a Condor Crest exercise, local SWAT team members were impressed, even jealous, of the platform.

The RRMP is a stand-alone application. There is no need to install or learn new software to take advantage of the platform. In developing it Halper said an overarching idea was to streamline its use as much as possible without making it necessary for users to learn programming.

Following several tweaks, the RRMP is now in its second version, Halper said. Plans for future iterations include uses for the civil engineer squadron showing utility lines instead of cordons, and for explosive ordnance disposal with stand-off distances mapped out.

The RRMP is drawing notice around the Air Force, too. People have travelled to Peterson to see it work, others have witnessed it while visiting here and sung its praises when returning home. Halper is working with Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, to set the base up with a version of the platform.

To assist other installations, he is working on creating a shell with instructions on how to populate it with data pertinent to those specific bases.

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