Edited Version of August 19, 1998
EIIP Classroom Online Presentation
"Decision Making Skills for Public Officials
During a Hazardous Materials Incident"
Project Manager, Carley Corporation
The original transcript of the August 19, 1998 online Virtual Classroom presentation is available on the EIIP Virtual Forum (http://www.emforum.org). The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. Typos were corrected, date/time/names attributed by the software to each were deleted but content of discussions, questions, and responses are as stated by each participant. Answers from the presenter to questions by the audience are grouped beneath the appropriate question to facilitate meaning.
Amy Sebring: On behalf of the EIIP, I am pleased to welcome you to a special event in our Classroom. Our topic today is a new set of training CD-ROMS produced by Carley Corporation under contract to FEMA EMI.
Please hold all questions and comments until we get to the Q&A portion of the program about half past the hour. We will review the instructions at that time. I will also point out for any newcomers that when a full URL is typed in the message area, it becomes a hot link, so you can just click on it, and a webpage will display in another browser window.
And now, it is my pleasure to introduce Mark Fuerst, Project Manager for Carley Corporation. For those of you who were with us for the Live! from ANL session, Mark graciously cooperated when I ran across the exhibit floor and literally grabbed him to participate.
Mark Fuerst: My pleasure, Amy. Let me start by talking a little bit about my company. Carley Corporation is a woman-owned, small company whose mission is to provide the highest quality multimedia training to those companies with a need for effective training applications.
The company was started over seven years ago with five people; the workforce has now grown to over 60. Carley's sole business is training, especially multimedia. We have produced many multimedia products during our existence. We have trained sailors on the intricacies of chemical and biological warfare defense, and United Nations workers on the supply system for providing relief to refugees of war torn countries.
The majority of the work we do is performed in-house; we rarely have the need to go to subcontractors to perform work. Our staff is populated with behavioral and research psychologists, media experts, graphic artists, programmers, and instructional designers.
We even have several means with which to edit video, audio, and still images using the latest technologies. All our editing software and hardware is non-destructive, non-linear, and digital in format. We can output both analog and digital copies. We are considered experts in multimedia training design, and the majority of our work comes from repeat business or word of mouth, a fact that we are very proud of.
One of our products is particularly fascinating. The product is our six (6) CD series called "Decision Making Skills for Public Officials During a Hazardous Materials Incident". This product was demonstrated at the Technology Partnerships for Emergency Management Workshop in Chicago last month.
The project was paid for by FEMA through an Indefinite Quantity Contract (IQC) issued by the Federal Government for training. Mr. Dennis Hickethier was our point of contact and Contracting Representative for the project. The project was originally produced for interactive video disc (IVD). Later, FEMA funded the conversion to CD-ROM when it was apparent that IVD technology was on the wane.
Carley Corporation worked with local Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) for each of the six roles (Mayor/City Mgr., Fire Chief, Police Chief, EMS Coordinator, Emergency Manager, Public Works Director) in the CD set. The FEMA SMEs were our check point for accuracy.
Basically, the program is a training vehicle to teach Public Officials how to make decisions during Hazardous Materials incidents using all the information presented to them at the time of the incident.
The information presented and available to the user during the training is in the form of video vignettes, memos, documents and publications, computer resources, phone calls, 2-way radio messages, personal logs, status boards, maps, and opinions from Emergency Operations Center (EOC) staff members.
All video vignettes presented employ actors who play the roles defined earlier. There are other roles as well, such as the Mayor's Public Information Officer, who appear periodically throughout the training to provide information to the user.
The incident presented is a train derailment in Central City (fictional city). The train is carrying hazardous chemicals, and it bursts into flames after it derails.
No matter what role you "play", you have a desktop that allows you to access all the available information about the incident. There is a phone, and in-box for memos, a walkie-talkie, and icons that allow the user access to a variety of other information. Amy, SLIDE 1, please.
Mark Fuerst: The icons across the bottom of the screen allow the user to view status boards, see video footage of the incident, read publications and documents, view the personal log of the "role player", and "talk" to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) staff.
Each decision that the user has to make begins with either a video segment or a memo that appears on the desktop. Once this information has been viewed, the user is presented with a list of possible reactions, or answers, to the information that has been presented. Amy, SLIDE 2, please.
Mark Fuerst: The answer selected is not always completely correct or completely wrong. It must be selected based on the information presented up to that point. For example, if the user chooses to get opinions from EOC members at the beginning of the scenario, they probably won't be much help because they have also just "arrived at the scene" and are trying to gather information at that time as well.
Each answer the user can select is scored and points are awarded for safety, legal, political, and financial considerations. These considerations are based solely on the information presented and the logistics and procedures created for Central City.
Once the user decides to continue the simulation, a countdown clock starts on the desktop. The user MUST make a decision in the time allotted. It is at this point that the user starts "researching".
The first thing a user may wish to do is "talk" to his/her EOC staff. When this area is accessed, certain officials are available to "talk" to, others are not depending on the point in the incident when this information is accessed. Amy, SLIDE 3, please.
Mark Fuerst: Manuals are always available to the user as well. These are REAL manuals such as the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) standards, Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) manuals, and city Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's) for emergencies. Amy, SLIDE 4, please.
Mark Fuerst: The user may also choose to view the status boards for the incident. It is here that the user has access to maps of the city, shelter information, weather reports, and activities at the scene. Amy, SLIDE 5, please.
Mark Fuerst: Of course, the user can "use" the phone, check the in-box, and "listen" to the walkie-talkie to try and glean information with which to make a decision as well. When one minute remains before the user has to make a decision, a warning screen appears to inform the user of that fact. If the user fails to make a decision, no points are awarded. That is the worst possible scenario, especially when the user is trying to learn decision making skills!
Once the user makes a decision, a video segment will play on the desktop that tells the user what the best decision is/was, and shows the user the result of that decision. When the video segment is complete, and the user chooses to move on, a screen is presented that allows the user to review his/her score. It is at this point that the user can see the points awarded for his/her decision, and the reasons why it was a good or bad decision. Amy, SLIDE 6, please.
Mark Fuerst: I apologize for not providing a screen capture of the reasons why a decision was good or bad. It is a text screen that explains all the political, financial, et. al. considerations and why the points are distributed in that particular manner.
There are 9 to 10 critical decisions that must be made for each role played. Of course, no two roles are alike. Each Public Official interacts with an entirely different set of information and people to perform his/her job duties.
Some of the roles also employ "decoy" decisions that may affect the outcome of the entire process. For example, word of a kidnapped or missing child might reach the Mayor's office while he/she is trying to deal with evacuating the local area.
All of the information presented to a user while playing a role builds on itself. In other words, information that a user received an hour ago may affect a decision he/she has to make now. It is not uncommon near the end of a role-playing scenario to have 50 or 60 memos in the in-basket! The memos pile up in real time - it pays to read them all.
The entire incident for each role player spans 5 days. Prior to each new decision, the user is told what day and time it is so the user can get his/her bearings. Once the user has completed a role, it is a good idea to get together with his/her peers to discuss how they might have done things differently. It is sometimes a good idea to allow many people to play one role together and pool their resources to make decisions.
The program has been very successful, and FEMA is very pleased with the outcome. It is featured on FEMA's Web site, and has been briefed in Belgium and other countries as well.
Thank you very much for your time. I am now turning the session back over to Amy Sebring, but I will be very happy to answer any questions you may have.
Amy Sebring: Thanks Mark, we will post the slides afterward with the transcript, so if you want to send me the file of the last page, I can put it up also.
We would like to take a moment here to review how we will handle the Q&A so that we have an orderly session. We ask that you indicate that you have a question by typing just a question mark (?). Then you can prepare your question, but PLEASE HOLD (don't hit end or send) your question until you are recognized. If we run out of time, you will have a chance to ask afterward in he follow up session in the Virtual Forum.
Kevin Farrell: Mark, what are the system requirements, and can the CD's be used one at a time or do you need a CD tower?
Mark Fuerst: The system requirements are a Pentium computer with 16 MB RAM, 500 MB hard drive, Super VGA monitor, 64/65K color display (640 X 480), multimedia sound card, and a 4X CD-ROM reader. CD's are used one at a time.
Amy Sebring: And I am sure Kevin wants to know if it runs on Mac.
Kevin Farrell: Thanks Amy.
Mark Fuerst: I'll have to get back to Kevin on the Mac issue.
Amy Sebring: Other questions? What about availability Mark, how do you get them?
Mark Fuerst: You can order them through me at Carley Corporation, 3203 Lawton Road, Suite 251, Orlando, Florida 32803-2935. The cost is $300 per set.
Isabel McCurdy: What about International applications?
Mark Fuerst: We have discussed this, and right now it seems that generic versions are IN. However, the CD's are customizable to any situation.
Amy Sebring: Remember Isabel from Canada, Mark?
Mark Fuerst: Sure do!
Chip Hines: Now that the basic system is done, is customization feasible (cost-wise) at the State and/or local level?
Mark Fuerst: Depends on your definition of "cost". The program cost $500,000 to develop. The video is pretty much intrinsic to the scenarios. I believe to do a complete customization, it would cost on the order of $200,000.
Amy Sebring: How long did the development take, approximately, Mark? If you know.
Mark Fuerst: I believe it took a little over a year.
Amy Sebring: Have you gotten any feedback from end users?
Mark Fuerst: Yes. All seem to like it very much. It works well on a basic level, and it really generates great discussions concerning local applications and procedures.
Kevin Farrell: Is the training system being used now in EMI and the NFA?
Mark Fuerst: Definitely in EMI. We have produced a different program for NFA --- Incident Command System.
Amy Sebring: Can you tell us a little about that one, Mark?
Mark Fuerst: I'll try. Recently, as I'm sure most of you are aware, there has been a tremendous push toward command UNIFICATION during hazardous incidents. The program we created discussed all the issues of Incident Command, and tested the user on those intricacies. It may have been the first program of its kind in the country.
Amy Sebring: Has that been completed?
Mark Fuerst: Yes. It was completed several months ago, if not longer.
Chip Hines: Does FEMA distribute this software as well?
Mark Fuerst: I'm not sure. I'll get back to you on that.
Amy Sebring: Is the ICS multi CDs and its availability similar to what you told us earlier?
Mark Fuerst: The ICS courseware is a single CD. We have not had additional interest in the CD until now. I will check on costs and get back to you.
Amy Sebring: That would be great.
Mark Fuerst: Now that I think about it, the ICS program was developed directly for the NFA, so FEMA probably does NOT distribute it.
Kevin Farrell: The idea of unified command goes back to Alan Brunicini's days of ICS, it's not a new concept.
Mark Fuerst: I stand corrected.
Amy Sebring: It's still debatable as well!
Mark Fuerst: That is correct.
Avagene Moore: Is it possible to have some record of after-the-exercise briefings where your system was used? I am thinking of either online somewhere or hard copy.
Kevin Farrell: A knowledge base, Ava?
Mark Fuerst: I'll check into it. I was not on the development team for the project, so I'll have to interface with other members of my company and FEMA.
Avagene Moore: Additionally, does the CD system include a critique mechanism?
Mark Fuerst: The CD does not include a critique mechanism. The video vignette that plays when the student makes his/her selection serves as a pseudo-critique.
Cindy Rice: What are the "official names" of the CD's in order to request them?
Mark Fuerst: The CD's are titled "Decision Making Skills for Public Officials During a Hazardous Materials Incident".
Amy Sebring: Mark, you may have stated before, but are you working on any terrorist incident type projects?
Mark Fuerst: If we are, I am not aware.
Amy Sebring: Well, after these bombings, I would expect some further activity.
Mark Fuerst: I fully agree. It is being looked into, but I'm not sure we have secured anything yet.
Kevin Farrell: Amy, DoD might be working on something similar.
Amy Sebring: Carley Corporation is planning to put a Website soon I understand, do you know when it will be available?
Mark Fuerst: Yes, we will soon have a Website. I do not know when it is planned to be launched. We have run into several delays and redesign efforts. One likes things to be perfect when you're on the Web!
Amy Sebring: I expect your company will not be satisfied with just any old thing!
Well, we will be looking forward to that site.
Mark Fuerst: That's correct. We are very proud that we provide only the BEST training, and we'd like to continue that trend in the future.
Kevin Farrell: Any other projects in the works that might apply to us?
Mark Fuerst: None right now. We do have a lot of work coming down the pipe from DoD, TRADOC, and others, but we won't know what it is exactly until it gets here.
Avagene Moore: Have you considered doing online classes/training?
Mark Fuerst: Can't say as we have. Quite frankly, we did not expect the reaction to the Hazardous Materials package that we have gotten. The response in Chicago blew us away!
Avagene Moore: Could be worth consideration!
Mark Fuerst: I should say! I'd definitely like to take it up with Sharon Wolford, our President.
Amy Sebring: I would like to mention that the EIIP is planning to try a Virtual Exercise for the Virtual Fire and Rescue Exposition in November and we are hoping to coordinate with FEMA, Carley Corporation, maybe NFA, and others on that event.
Isabel McCurdy: NFA = National Fire Association?
Amy Sebring: Academy I believe. We are also hoping to have them with us for a future Classroom session and have been working on that for awhile.
Mark Fuerst: It is Academy. I should mention that I know a few members of the Academy who are here in Orlando for a conference on that very topic. I plan to give them CD sets this weekend.
Amy Sebring: You mean the topic of distance learning, Mark?
Mark Fuerst: Sorry. Fire and Rescue.
Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Mark. I have tried out the Mayor's CD and I got the very first question wrong. I guess that is why I do not hold elective office!
Mark Fuerst: You should have seen me try to muddle my way through them in Chicago!
Amy Sebring: Thank you audience, and since our time is up, we will close down the Classroom for today, but we will be in the Virtual Forum room for a few minutes longer, and you are welcome to join us there for open discussion. Thank you for your cooperation.
Break: Further Discussions and Questions in the Virtual Room
Amy Sebring: Excellent job Mark! Especially appreciate your taking the time with so many pressing deadlines upon you.
Mark Fuerst: I really enjoyed the experience. I only wish I was an "expert" in the EM field. I feel a little behind.
Amy Sebring: You did fine. I will send you a raw transcript if you like if you want to follow up on some answers. Also note Mark's email address and phone number are listed in his User Profile.
Mark Fuerst: Please do. I have written the questions down, but it would be nice to have the transcript for review.
Amy Sebring: Will do. The material will also be posted on our site in about a week, and will let you know when that is available.
Mark Fuerst: Thank you again, all. This session was very much FUN. Please e-mail me or phone me with any questions you may have in the future. I'll be happy to answer them. I'll send a screen capture ASAP.