Edited Version September 27, 2000 Transcript
EIIP Tech Arena Online Presentation

"Emergency Manager - The Emergency Management Software Solution"

Ray Nadeau
BC Gas, Inc

Greg Bennett
BC Gas, Inc.

Amy Sebring, Moderator
EIIP Technical Projects Coordinator

The original unedited transcript of the September 27, 2000 online Virtual Tech Arena presentation is available in the EIIP Virtual Library Archives (http://www.emforum.org/vlibrary/livechat.htm). 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 input were deleted but the content of questions and responses are as stated by each participant. Answers to participants’ questions are grouped beneath the appropriate question to facilitate meaning.

[Opening / Introduction]

Amy Sebring: Welcome to the EIIP Tech Arena! Today we will be taking a look at a new software product developed by BC Gas, Emergency Manager.

It is our pleasure to introduce Ray Nadeau and Greg Bennett from BC Gas, Inc. Also behind the scenes assisting is Amy Hennessy.

Ray is the Business Leader of Emergency Planning, and is responsible to ensure the company is prepared for all types of emergencies and disasters. He has extensive experience in emergency operations and management and serves as Chairman of the Emergency Preparedness for Industry and Commerce Council (EPICC).

Greg is Manager of Emergency Planning, and is responsible for rolling out many of the programs for employees and the public. He also has extensive experience and serves as BC Gas representative on numerous Regional and Municipal standing committees on Emergency Preparedness.

Welcome to you all, and thank you for taking the time to be with us today.


Ray Nadeau: Thanks, Amy, and thanks to the EIIP Virtual Forum for allowing us to participate. It's a pleasure to be here.

Emergency Manager is an affordable, user-friendly Intranet based software that allows all involved to share information and participate from any location in the world, any time. It's software that resides on your company's server, on your company's Intranet.

The software makes it easy to manage, share and track events and actions as they occur, thereby solving the communication problems normally experienced during emergencies.

Emergency Manager was developed by the Emergency Planning Department of BC Gas Utility to handle the many emergency situations we encounter in our business. Since then, interest from outside agencies and the lack of web based products on the market have led us to offer this product for sale.

Emergency Manager's unique features include:

* Intranet web based, so it's accessible from anywhere;

* Pre-defined roles and action checklists;

* Employee/Family Message Centre;

* Multiple levels of access;

* Easily customized to fit your emergency plans; and

* Easy to use.

Emergency Manager creates a complete record of activities that may be crucial for legal purposes and/or reimbursement/compensation. And it can be used for day-to-day incidents as well as emergencies.

Today we'll only have time to give you a quick snap shot of what the software looks like and what it can do. We'd be pleased to demonstrate Emergency Manager for any interested parties. We'll give you the details at the end of the session.


When you log in to Emergency Manager, your access has been predetermined by your system administrator.

Access levels include:

* BBS Viewer - high level bullet board viewer access;

* EC Guest - view only access;

* EC User - full access; and

* Administrator - full access with administrative privileges. Administrators can customize Emergency Manager to your organization's emergency plans.


The log in screen is followed directly by a contact information screen. By logging in with all your contact information, you let other users see where you are and how to contact you.



The second slide will give you an overview of what the software can do. Please look at all the headings to get an idea of the functions Emergency Manager offers.

You'll find:

* View BBS (Bulletin Broadcast System);

* Assume & Release Roles;

* View Roles & Update Actions;

* Incident List, Activity Log;

* EC (Emergency Centre) Contacts;

* Summary Reports;

* Employee & Family Message Centre;

* Admin BBC and Admin System;

* Change Password; and

* Logout.

Because of time limitations today, we'll just touch on the highlights. Again, we'll be happy to give you a full demonstration, if you like. We'll give the information on how to do that at the end of this presentation.



The Bulletin Broadcast System, or BBS for short, displays one-line summaries of all events and activities. From here you can see what's going on at a glance. We display this screen on the wall in our Emergency Centre to keep everyone up to date on what's going on. It automatically refreshes every 15 seconds.


The BBS can also display photos, which allows those in the emergency centre to see what's going on at the scene of the emergency.



One of the first things you do when you log in to Emergency Manager is to assume your role, or roles. (If you don't use roles in your Emergency Centre, you can set up a single role for all users.) You can select as many roles as you want. From here it's a quick click to view the responsibilities and initial actions associated with the role or roles you have selected.



Emergency Manager can be easily customized to use the roles, responsibilities and initial actions from your company's emergency plans. In addition, all those logged on to the system can see which tasks have been completed and by whom. This page is especially helpful if you can't find, or are not familiar with your company's paper emergency plans.



From the incident screen, shown in the next slide, you can drill down to see all the details associated with the incidents and activities on the list. The screen shows both "incidents" and "activities". The overall situation, a fire or explosion, for example, would be the incident. Activities are linked actions associated with the incident. When users input new incidents or activities, they are led through screens to help them collect consistent and relevant information.



The Employee and Family Message Centre is a unique feature that helps employees stay in touch with their families in an emergency. Our company has set up a pre-designated phone number for employees' family members to call and leave messages for the employees and to receive any messages left for them. The messages are posted here. It's a feature that helps employees and their families feel more at ease, because they know the status of their loved ones, especially during major events.



From the Admin Screens, administrators can add users, Emergency Centres, roles, incident types and incident checklists on the fly simply by using the tabs at the top of the screen. If you need a new role, like "Helicopter Pilot", it can be added easily and quickly. The same goes with new users, or a new incident type. The Admin System screen lists all authorized users and their status (whether they are logged on or not). It also lists the type of access each user has.



When you're ready to log out, there are three ways to do it.

1) If you're just taking a break, you can log out without releasing your roles.

2) For shift changes, you can log out by releasing your roles but retaining the role initial action status, so there is a record of what you've done.

3) For exercise purposes, or when the event is all over, you can log out by releasing your roles and resetting the role initial action lists.

[SLIDE 10]

Emergency Manager runs on a Windows NT 4.0 Server with MS Internet Information Server 4.0 and MSSQL Server 7.0 On the user side, Emergency Manager works on any computer with MS Internet Explorer 4.0 (or higher) browser.

If you'd like an on-line demonstration of Emergency Manager, go to our Website <http://www.emergencymanager.com> to see our flash demo or email us at <[email protected]> to arrange a personal demo of the software. One note regarding the flash demo -- some people have had trouble viewing it from a Netscape browser. We're working on that problem right now. If it happens to you, please send us an email and we'll let you know when the problem is fixed.

Thanks very much for your attention. We'll be happy to take any questions you have.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Amy Sebring: Thank you for that overview, Ray. And we can get into some more detail during Q&A.


Obhie Robinson: Can you make free form entries to the log?

Ray Nadeau: Yes, absolutely.


Donald Whytock: Is there any means for sharing information, situation maps, etc?

Ray Nadeau: The entire software is a means of sharing information. You can look at summary reports. And, of course, the entire software access allows anyone to share information. However, we have found that most organizations already have a mapping system and we have opted to allow them to set up linkages from their mapping to our system. If they don't have a mapping function, it can be purchased separately.


Mike McNeill: How many users can use your system at one time?

Ray Nadeau: 50 - 100 concurrent users.


Obhie Robinson: I think you said that the program works with Internet Explorer. Does it work with Netscape as well?

Ray Nadeau: Not at this time. We've had inquiries and are looking into it.


Burt Wallrich: What is the cost? If size matters, ours is a nonprofit human services rganization of about 70 people in one primary and about 10 satellite sites.

Ray Nadeau: Cost depends on number of users. And varies from approximately $12,000 Canadian for 10 users to $35,000 Canadian for 50 users. Of course, these prices are somewhat negotiable.


Amy Sebring: Am I correct in assuming that you can display any type of Web image where you showed the photo?

Ray Nadeau: The software supports a jpeg format.


Tim Murphy: I arrived late and this may have been briefed - what database software does it use?

Ray Nadeau: Greg, that's a good one for you.

Greg Bennett: Microsoft SQL server 7.0.


Cam King: Can it operate on the Internet, say through a chat group, and does it only work through your server?

Ray Nadeau: It's Intranet based software. It can run on the Internet, as we do for demonstrating it, but most organizations prefer to keep it in-house, due to security issues.


Avagene Moore: What type of learning curve is there for the software? How many hours, etc? Is there a tutorial with the package or does it require your personnel to help?

Ray Nadeau: We developed Emergency Manager to be extremely simple. Many emergency responders are new, or under stress at the time of the incident. Formal training is 2-3 hours. The package comes with a user guide. After that, it would take a user about 10 minutes to get up to speed. We've actually had executives able to use it without training!


Lewis Roussel: What sort of activity logs are kept and can they be edited after they are created?

Ray Nadeau: Greg, I'll send this one to you.

Greg Bennett: You can add information to the activity but the initial information cannot be touched for due diligence reasons.


Mike McNeill: What customers currently use your software?

Ray Nadeau: Right now we're just launching the software. We've sold it to a local major electric utility, BC Hydro. And have numerous corporations interested at this time.


Isabel McCurdy: How do the messages from family get posted? Are the families able to log into the message centre to post their messages from home?

Ray Nadeau: The families are given a phone number to a call centre. The messages are posted from the call centre.


Jim Acosta: Will it be Windows 2000/Prof. and Server compatible?

Greg Bennett: We have done preliminary tests with Windows 2000 and have not encountered any issues so far.


Tim Murphy: Has it been field tested in a real event with heavy stress/ workload?

Ray Nadeau: We used the software at Y2K, as did BC Hydro, and it performed excellently. Traffic was heavy, and we use it in our full-scale exercises with good results.


Amy Sebring: Do the figures you quoted represent a one-time cost? Do they include upgrades, tech support?

Ray Nadeau: Minor enhancements and 10 hours of tech support are included in the numbers. And there is a small annual user fee.


David Crews: Does it have report capability and templates?

Ray Nadeau: Yes, it does.


Amy Sebring: By that you mean the reports are customizable?

Ray Nadeau: Yes. I'd like to add to that last answer -- most of the screens are customizable to your organizations.


Bill Lent: Is there 24 hour support 7 days a week?

Ray Nadeau: Bill, we can arrange that if you need it.


Amy Sebring: I have one, Ray, that is a little off the topic of your software, if you don't mind. I am interested in EPICC. Is there a Web site for it? Is it an active organization in Canada?

Ray Nadeau: Thanks for asking, Amy. There is a Web site, I'm just searching frantically for it. <http://www.epicc.org>.


Amy Sebring: Thanks, I would also like to know if you have any future plans for the software? Further enhancements, e.g.?

Ray Nadeau: We're hoping to link it to a resource database and perhaps a GIS system. We're also working on a wireless version.


Amy Sebring: Finally, I am interested in your experience with using during exercise. Do you find good participation and that this is useful for training on your procedures?

Ray Nadeau: Because it's linked to the roles and responsibilities from our emergency plans, it helps people understand quickly what to do. The other thing I'd like to mention is that during the exercise, the phones stopped ringing, the confusion and noise and activity settles down significantly. The phones are not as necessary. Participants can communicate easily on line.


Tim Murphy: is there a web site for the product itself?

Ray Nadeau: Tim, thanks for asking. <http:// www.emergencymanager.com>.


Lewis Roussel: I believe you mentioned earlier that status is updated every fifteen minutes. Correct?

Ray Nadeau: The BBS (Bulletin Broadcast System) screen is refreshed every 15 seconds.


Amy Sebring: The rest is served dynamically, Ray?

Ray Nadeau: The rest is refreshed on every visit to the screen.

Final Question:

Christopher Effgen: Has any consideration been given to the issue of interoperability with other software performing similar functions?

Ray Nadeau: Not at this time, if you mean interoperability with other agencies software.

Christopher Effgen: Yes.

Ray Nadeau: But we've had some questions about the possibility and we are considering it.


Amy Sebring: Thank you very much for being with us today Ray and Greg. Also thanks to Amy Hennessy for her assistance. We very much appreciate your time and effort. Please stand by a moment while we take care of some business.

Amy Sebring: Avagene, can you tell us what is on for next week, please?

Avagene Moore: Thank you, Amy. And my personal appreciation to Ray and Greg (and Amy Hennessy in the background) for a fine demonstration in the EIIP Tech Arena.

Next week, Wednesday October 4, 12:00 Noon Eastern time, we will present Monica Zaccarelli with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) regarding guidelines for international disaster donations. Management of donated goods in time of disaster continues to be a problem domestically as well. This is an area we have touched on only lightly before, and this will be an opportunity to get into the topic in a little more depth. Most of us can relate very well to this topic - we all have stories we can tell about donated goods. That's it for now, Amy.

Amy Sebring: Thank you, Ava. Our schedule for October will be out later this week, and our next issue of our monthly newsletter will also be out shortly. If you are not on our mailing list, see <http://mail.wces.net:81/guest/RemoteListSummary/EIIP> to subscribe.

Thanks to all our participants today. We will adjourn the session for now, but you are welcome to remain for open discussion. You no longer need to use question marks. Please help us express our appreciation to BC Gas for today's presentation.