Home Emergency Management News University of Washington Launches New Disaster Response Center

University of Washington Launches New Disaster Response Center


Post-Disaster Rapid Response Research Facility

In the Pacific Northwest, the University of Washington is set to launch a new effort meant to improve disaster response in the area. The team will be based at a new facility, aptly named the Post-Disaster Rapid Response Research Facility, that is set to open its doors in two years.

The mission of the new disaster response effort is to deploy teams directly after a hazard event occurs, such as an earthquake or severe weather, to assess road and building damages incurred.

The teams will use state-of-the-art surveying and imaging tools from an engineering approach in order to investigate the damages. Some of the equipment will include drones to provide better surveying capabilities. Funding to hire employees and purchase needed equipment will come from a National Science Foundation grant of $4 million.

Other goals for the new response team involve gathering information that will help emergency planners design and develop better emergency response plans, provide better data to improve building codes, and identify locations where buildings and/or development are not recommended.

Rapid assessment of damages

What makes the program so valuable is its ability to rapidly assess damages in the aftermath of a hazard event. Normally, such assessments are conducted after clean-up has begun.

Clean-up efforts distort, disturb, and destroy data and evidence of what damages were directly incurred by the hazard, preventing the accurate assessment of true damages.

Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.