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Saving Lives: Emergency Equipment Tracking

maintaining-emergency-equipment-banner In an emergency, whether a natural or man-made disaster, those relying on search and rescue task forces expect quick and efficient assistance.  Finding out your local task force can’t provide the appropriate response because of poor asset management only adds insult to injury. For these grant-funded agencies, manually tracking assets (using pen & paper or Excel) creates accountability problems; especially when poor records give a false impression about the level of preparedness and the safety of equipment being used.

Search & Rescue Assets

One FEMA search and rescue task force can be responsible for an equipment cache worth about $1.4 million dollars – more than 16,400 pieces.  This cache of equipment consists of five types of equipment: medical, rescue, communications, technical support and logistics.  Smaller task force groups, like the Florida Urban Search and Rescue – Task Force 4 (FL-TF4), may be responsible for less equipment but are held to the same tracking and maintenance requirements. The FL-TF4 is responsible for over 5,000 emergency response tools – from power generators and food trailers to rescue equipment.  The funding to purchase and maintain FL-TF4’s task force equipment comes from grant dollars. As part of the annual, grant allocation process, FL-TF4 reports how equipment is used, for what purpose, and by whom. To meet grant requirements and to ensure future funding, the task force must provide detailed maintenance records for the equipment purchased. FL-TF4 used a manual tracking process for equipment records. A team member would write down the equipment checked out for a given call. Paper logs, usually dirty and crumbled, were often lost or misplaced. The records lacked the level of detail needed and left team members guessing dates of maintenance service. According to FL-TF4’s Logistics Specialist, Manny Washington, “The team’s primary job is to assist the citizens who need us. When there’s an emergency, we’re so focused on getting to the scene and helping, often times we didn’t even think about checking the equipment in and out. But, in order to maintain our grant funding, accurate equipment tracking was a must.”  This lack of record accuracy placed FL-TF4 in a financially precarious position. Washington knew the task force needed an asset management solution that was accurate and easy to manage. The records needed to physically endure the treacherous disaster sites in which the force operates.

Asset Tracking Automation

After testing several asset-tracking solutions, Washington chose Wasp’s MobileAsset as the FL-TF4 equipment tracking solution.   MobileAsset allows the task force to track every detail required by their funding source: purchase cost, current location, historical use, site movement, and maintenance details for each and every piece of equipment.  Not only does this automated asset solution provide Washington with the detail he needs to effectively manage equipment, he is also able to provide those detailed records in a variety of reports to any financial auditor. Today, FL-TF4 tracks all 5,000 assets with one database. Each piece of equipment is labeled with an asset tag and quickly scanned upon check-out and check-in. Wasp’s MobileAsset allows the team to effectively monitor each item’s life, maintenance, and expense. There is no longer any confusion about an asset’s location, who has it or when it was last used. Proof-of-work is as simple as pulling a report in the database, which makes it easy to identify the items used during deployment.

Grant Funding Tracking

By organizing and automating the asset management process, FL-TF4 gained the enhanced oversight needed for grant funding accountability, with fewer unexpected and unnecessary asset expenses. “MobileAsset helps us track equipment, maintenance and service history. Proper records maintenance means the difference between receiving funding and missing out.”  Additionally, FL-TF4 has benefited financially by realizing a significant return on their investment in MobileAsset.
Since implementing Wasp’s solutions, we’ve saved approximately $200,000.
More importantly, the FL-TF4 task force trusts its equipment.  When their unit is called to an emergency, they know the correct equipment is deployed with them and that the equipment is safe and ready to assist a public in need.