EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation — March 9, 2011

Responder Knowledge Base (RKB)
Emergency Responder Decision Support Tool

Demetria M. H. Caldwell
Content Analyst
Responder Knowledge Base

Amy Sebring
EIIP Moderator

The following has been prepared from a transcription of the recording. The complete slide set (Adobe PDF) may be downloaded from http://www.emforum.org/vforum/RKB/RKBOverview.pdf for ease of printing.

[Welcome / Introduction]

Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone and welcome back to EMForum.org. I am Amy Sebring and will serve as your Moderator today. We are very glad you could join us.

Today we are pleased to feature a new EIIP Partner, the Responder Knowledge Base. Since 2003 the RKB Website has been the authoritative source of information related to first responder and emergency management procurement. We hope today’s presentation will help you get the most out of the many resources the site has to offer.

We are making a recording, which should be available later this afternoon. The text transcript will be posted later on. If you are not on our mailing list, you can Subscribe from our home page, and then you will get a notice when these are ready.

[Slide 1]

Now it is my pleasure to introduce today’s guest: Demetria Hamilton Caldwell serves as a Content Analyst for the RKB system. In this role, she uploads content for the system, organizes and attends conferences for research and outreach purposes, conducts briefings and strategic communications for the RKB. Please refer to today’s Background Page for further information and related links.

Welcome Demetria and thank you very much for taking the time to be with us today. I now turn the floor over to you to start us off please.


Demetria Caldwell: Thank you, Amy. Good afternoon, everyone. Today we’ll begin a live overview of the RKB website. The URL is www.RKB.us. I’m delighted to share this information with you this afternoon.

[Slide 2]

The first slide we’ll be reviewing is the mission statement—to provide emergency responders, purchasers, and planners with a trusted, integrated online source of information on products, standards, certifications, grants and other equipment-related information.

The Responder Knowledge Base is designed to provide emergency responders with a first stop for integrated information. We are an online repository of information for the emergency responder community.

[Slide 3]

The next slide will display the objectives for today’s walkthrough. We will provide an overview of the RKB website, inform users how to navigate the RKB website, and answer any questions that you may have. The RKB provides knowledge links, user opinions and hints, authorized by subject matter experts. By integrating this information into one location, the RKB has become the go-to site for the emergency responder community.

[Slide 4]

Today I am going to give you a little bit of background information in regard to the RKB. Project Responder was sponsored by the Oklahoma City Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism and Department of Security in October of 2003. MIPT’s origin is in the largest domestic attack in U.S. history. This occurred in the 1995 terrorist truck bombing on the Federal Building in Oklahoma.

Before the rubble was hauled away, the people of Oklahoma began working to create an institute with the primary goal of preventing future attacks on other cities. The RKB is funded by DHS/FEMA National Preparedness Director.

[Slide 5]

The next slide we are going to is titled, "What is the RKB?" In today’s presentation, we want to make sure you are familiar with the RKB and its content. The RKB is the emergency responders’ decision support portal. On the site, you will find products. The products have increased over 7,000 records at this time.

There are also certification and standards modules, training modules, FEMA preparedness and other grants and well as user opinion answers. All of this information is provided to answer various questions. For example, what equipment is out there? How has it been certified, and if so, to what standard? What training is needed to use the equipment? Would grant vehicles exist to purchase the equipment? Is there anyone in the community I can talk to who has used the equipment?

That is the reason the Responder Knowledge Base is here to assist to—with making sure these questions are answered for you.

[Slide 6]

The next slide we’ll be using will be stating the RKB users. Right now the Responder Knowledge Base has over 75,000 registered users. We have public users with access to the majority of the information on the site. We also have responders with access to public information as well as access to limited distribution products, publications and training.

There are also federal government users and their rights and information are accustomed to their needs as well. What I do want to state is that there are numerous project documents that are available to users with public access to the RKB. However, there are a variety of technical reports in other documents that are responder access only. There are several non-responder private documents available on the RKB website such as SAVER newsletters.

[Slide 7]

On this slide, we’ll display additional users of the Responder Knowledge Base. We have equipment purchasers and FEMA grant applicants. I do want to state that some of the documents displayed on the RKB are locked and you must be a registered U.S. responder on the RKB website to receive the document, or a public user with an email address ending in the following: .mil or .gov.

[Slide 8]

To make sure you have the appropriate access, we want to make sure everyone is aware how to be a user and how to create an account on the Responder Knowledge Base. On the home page on the right hand side, you will see the first image, which states, "Log in to the RKB". If you already have a valid email address and password, you are able to select "Log In".

If you need to create an account, you will select the hyperlink that states "create an account". The benefit of "create an account" allows you to set up your features as you need them. You’ll have a link called "my RKB feature". This will be located in a green bar at the top of the screen. This will allow registered RKB users to access the drop down menu.

This will give you access to your registration profile and your feature tracks. You can also track the history that you have utilized on the RKB. When you set up a user account, it only takes five steps. I’ve displayed for you on this screen the first step which simply shows here that it requires your name and basic information, as well as your email and your password.

When you upload this information, you are able to have "my favorites", which allows you to personalize your information. On here, you’ll be able to see the last ten view content items, the last ten product comparisons you have done, and the last ten keyword searches. If you are coming back and trying to find something you were looking for not too long ago, it will help you alleviate trying to do a search. It will be available for your needs.

[Slide 9]

We just talked about how to create a user account on the Responder Knowledge Base and now this slide will briefly display for you an image. This image shows you a breakdown of the users of the Responders Knowledge Base. Right now, we have over 49,000 responders which are anywhere from law, fire, EMS (emergency medical services), following responders, and well as additional.

In addition to that, we have industries which go towards manufacturers and service providers as well as government, which go from federal, state, local, and tribal. Right now we have over 75,203 total current users on the Responder Knowledge Base. Once you sign up and create an account, you’ll increase that user volume.

[Slide 10]

The RKB features—the RKB displays an abundance of features. This list shows a few of them available to you. The list states "ask an expert". That "ask an expert" feature is available to registered users with general questions about equipment, certification, standards or other related topics that are not answered by the content on the website.

The RKB has a network of subject matter experts that are available to provide answers to these questions. The RKB staff does check these messages daily. Also on here, you’ll see there are calendars. The website displays calendars for conferences and grants. This will keep you informed of information available for the emergency responder community.

We also have news items that are posted on the RKB home page. These news items keep you current with information necessary for the community of emergency responders.

The next one is "recommend the RKB". That will enable you to provide someone you know, a colleague up here, with information about the Responder Knowledge Base and let them know they are able to use this tool for their benefit as well. We want to share the information and make sure everyone has access to it.

We also display safety notices on the Responder Knowledge Base. The icon represents safety notices related to a specific product. Once a product is searched, if a safety notice is associated, it will appear in the product results.

Available to you is also a tutorial. This will allow you to see how the website works, allow you to search and figure out exactly what are your needs for the site, and answer any questions you might have in relevance to how to utilize the site.

Also, periodically we will post a news item identifying that a live walk-thru is available for you where you can jump on a call and find out information as to how to utilize the site that best meets your needs.

The next is the "watch list". The "my watch list" feature allows a registered RKB user to choose a specific item category that allows them to be notified when an item has been created, updated or modified in the RKB.

[Slide 11]

The next slide is RKB content. We have one of the RKB FEMA grants which are viewable for you and authorized equipment list information. The FEMA preparedness grants and authorized equipment list sections of the RKB contain information on available grants designed to help states, urban areas, tribal government and non-profit agencies improve their readiness by enhancing protection, prevention and response and recovery capabilities for all disasters.

[Slide 12]

This slide we’re viewing now displays the product stage on the Responder Knowledge Base. You can see there that we have images to represent each category area. We have eight categories, the first one being PPE, which is protective equipment. Operational and US & R equipment is the second. Information technology is the third.

Communications is the fourth. The fifth one is detection. The sixth one is decontamination. The seventh one is medical and the eighth one is where products that are considered uncategorized products can fall into. The product section includes commercially available product information that has uploaded directly and voluntarily by the manufacturer.

The products are all relevant to the emergency response community and all information is reviewed by the RKB staff prior to publishing. There is no cost to users to view or upload product information onto the RKB. While the product does not currently have to be a third party certified to a standard to be placed on the RKB, certified equipment should be considered first.

If you ever have any questions in regards to a product and its certification process or if it should be certified, you are more than welcome to contact the RKB. Certifications, standards, operational assessments, training, user opinions, and other relevant information will be linked to the appropriate product record in the knowledge link section on the right hand side of the page.

I will show you briefly what a product actually looks like, but I want you to know that on the RKB you can find out information about the product section as well as how to submit a product to be viewed on the RKB.

[Slide 13]

This slide displays a product. This product is called binoculars. A product does not have to be third party certified to a standard to be placed on the RKB. When a vendor or manufacturer wants to upload a product, we do check to make sure they meet the necessary requirements and then they are given a walk-thru. They are informed on how to upload product information onto the Responder Knowledge Base.

If you know in general a vendor or manufacturer whose product is not on the Responder Knowledge Base when you go to search the site today and later on this week, you can let them know that they can upload their product information by simply contacting us and we can give them a walk-thru.

It is free to view products as well as upload products onto the site. The product here that you are able to see displays the information from the manufacturer. It gives a description and tells about availability and importantly, it provides information about the product as for whom to contact. If someone is interested in a product that is displayed on the RKB, we provide that contact information for them so they can find out directly how to get a hold of that product.

At the top of this screen you’ll see there are options written in white inside of the blue bar. Those options are displaying information for example of "volunteer a user opinion". The user opinion is available and there is an icon when one is there. It looks like an image of a person speaking out. The icon appears for products or training courses that have at least one user opinion given on the site.

On the display for that particular product, the user opinion is located in the knowledge links box on the right hand side of the page. You can see that the knowledge links are written in white inside the green bar on the right hand side of the product. Also, you can see that this information can be printed if you wanted to show this product to someone else.

Or, you could do a side-by-side comparison for your benefit of actually comparing the products on the site. This way you are able to make a good decision as to what product you want to view or bring up to someone else’s attention. You can also add to "my products’. That goes back to being a registered user on the Responder Knowledge Base. It allows you to save your favorite products and view them.

At any time if you’re interested in looking for a product on the website, you are more than welcome to use the search option on the site. That will help pull up products and you can make that search meet your needs if you need it detailed down to something specific.

[Slide 14]

Other RKB content—the RKB has an abundance of information available to you. It has information available from operational assessments from SAVER and NIMS. We have over 450 operational assessments at this time. There are also publications and references. We have over 1,700 publications and references at this time.

There is a target capabilities list. There are the NIMS resource types, and the Lessons Learned Information Sharing. We have over 500 Lessons Learned available on the RKB at this time. The operational assessments are vendor funded, third-party, and independent operational and evaluation testing results for analysis and dissemination.

Like certifications and declarations, the operational assessments can be viewed in their own section and associated products can be linked. For publication and references, this section provides information on publications and references that may be helpful to the first responder community.

The Target Capabilities List—this list identifies national preparedness capabilities, provides a description for each capability and presents guidance on the level of capability that our state, federal, local and tribal entities will be expected to develop and maintain.

Also, in reference to the NIMS resource types, you have federal, state, local, and tribal authorities which should use the national typing protocol when inventorying and managing resources to promote common interoperability and integration.

Resource typing definitions provide emergency managers with the information they need to request and receive the resources they need during an emergency or a disaster. You also have Lessons Learned, also known as LLIS. LLIS.gov is the national network of lessons learned and best practices for the emergency responders and Homeland Security officials.

The RKB provides searchable summary references that link back to the LLIS.gov website. LLIS is a national online network of lessons learned and best practices. These are utilized by security officials to prevent, prepare, respond to, and recover from all hazards, including terrorism.

With the RKB, and speaking of the abundance of content available for you to view on the site, if you ever get the opportunity to view the site, you can see what other needs are there. There are a variety of things you can access.

[Slide 15]

Before we conclude and turn it over to the moderator, I want to inform you that we are here. The RKB staff is available to assist you. You are welcome and most encouraged to utilize the

www.RKB.us site. The search tool on the site will guide you to find the information that you need. There are several methods for RKB users to contact the RKB staff with questions or concerns.

We will bring those up. You have the RKB Help Desk number which is available to you on this screen (877-336-2752) which is available Monday through Friday, 8 A.M. through 5 P.M. EST. You also have the option of emailing the RKB mailbox. ([email protected])

We have the "ask the expert" feature which I mentioned earlier in the presentation. This feature can be accessed on any page and the green menu bar which will be located on the top of the RKB page. The "ask the expert" feature is available for register RKB users, so we do recommend that you create an account on the RKB.

I want to bring to your attention to the fact that the RKB is a free, trusted informational resource that we add content to every day. We add to different areas on the site. At any time if you have anything that you think should be added that you think is important for the emergency responder community to view, we’ll be more than welcome to review and see if it can be content added to the website.

At this time I’ll turn it over to the moderator.

Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Demetria for that overview. Now, to proceed to our Q&A.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Isabel McCurdy: Hi Demetria. Am I to understand that your site is for United States access only?

Demetria Caldwell: Hello, Isabel, and thank you for the question. No, the site is not for U.S. only. We have international responders as well. International users can register and set up accounts.

Amy Sebring: You mentioned a vast library of publications. Can you give us a general idea of the kind of publications?

Demetria Caldwell: There are 1,821 as of right now. If you get the opportunity to view the site, you can see that we have the range of government to non-government. In there, in the government ones, we have DOD, DHS, FEMA—for example, one that I’m viewing right now is the 2008 Fundamentals of Firefighter Skills, and this is the second edition available on the RKB.

If there is a certain area, I can look to see if there is a publication for that particular area. They do range, and they have a large range.

Amy Sebring: Basically, reports that have been issued by the government—that type of thing?

Demetria Caldwell: Exactly. We are always willing to add more. If you see any that are not on the site that you think are relevant, we’d be delighted to add them for you.

Amy Sebring: Does the RKB have any plans for future enhancements that are under consideration or that you’re working on right now?

Demetria Caldwell: Yes. We do enhancements on the RKB on a quarterly basis. If any user has any feedback they would like to add to see an enhancement done, they can access the feedback tool through "ask the expert".

Patti Aymond: Are knowledgebase products categorized by the target capabilities and their activities and/or critical tasks that they support?

Demetria Caldwell: No, not at this time, there is not a link that provides back to them, but the TC’s are on the site. We are currently evaluating the effort to update that.

Amy Sebring: I know you have news, per se, on the site. Do you have any kind of email notices that RKB sends out? Can people sign up for a newsletter?

Demetria Caldwell: Yes, if you choose to receive notices about email when you are creating your account, under your profile, you can find out about news items that are there. We also have the capability of searching old news items if you are looking for something that was formerly on the site.

Mark Neveau: Am I correct that the site provides products that are "certified" for use by FEMA and can be purchased at a discount?

Demetria Caldwell: No, that is not correct. The products are available. The information in regard to pricing is made by the manufacturer or vendor but there is no discount based on it being on the RKB.

Amy Sebring: Are the certifications done by a third-party?

Demetria Caldwell: Absolutely. All the certifications are done by third-party.

Amy Sebring: That is to some standard through some laboratory, not a FEMA certification.

Demetria Caldwell: That is correct. [Note: The FEMA Authorized Equipment List is posted on RKB.]

Isabel McCurdy: Is there a 'used equipment' along with new equipment aspect in your site?

Demetria Caldwell: We don’t categorize the equipment by "new" or "used", but there are user opinions if she is looking to view how someone else viewed the equipment—that is available for her.

She can contact FEMA’s PPEP (Pre-Position Equipment Program) to find out about used equipment availability.

Amy Sebring: There is a CEDAP (Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance Program) program that has some used equipment.

Avagene Moore: I imagine you have Web site stats that you monitor. Are you seeing growth in the traffic on the RKB site? Do you promote the site in any way? If so, how?

Demetria Caldwell: Yes, we do keep track of the website’s growth and we just reached our 75,000 user last month. We are very excited about that and we look forward to adding more users and seeing more traffic coming to the RKB website. We do various things to promote the RKB. We have outreach and we travel.

That goes back to the conference calendar that will display where the RKB will be boothing at and display the information—talking firsthand with responders as well as vendors and manufacturers. As far as promoting the website itself, we are going forth with having a Facebook page. It’s not on yet, but it will be coming soon.

Amy Sebring: You mentioned that you have some kind of live training available from time to time. Can you describe that a little bit more?

Demetria Caldwell: It is very similar to what you are doing today. We actually post a news item on the RKB advising that a tutorial will be available. You can email the Help Desk when that news item is there to let us know if you would like to log in and be a part of that. In that tutorial, we do a slower walk-thru on how to use the site for your benefit.

They range from every other month to quarterly. It depends on the feedback we get from the news item. We want to make sure we have enough users that we can have a successful webinar.

We do news items in regard to any new features that have come up as well as when we update the site.

Lori Wieber: Would one expect to find much in the way of published materials: i.e. documents/publications such as FOGs (field operation guides) or job aids within the RKB? (I am not talking about equipment operator manuals.)

Demetria Caldwell: We do have available the new NIMS training guide available on the site to be viewed. If there is something in particular she is looking for, she can do a search on the site and something will populate for her based on her search criteria.

Amy Sebring: May state governments submit content?

Demetria Caldwell: They may submit it to the Help Desk and we would upload that information if it were useful.

Amy Sebring: Do you have equipment operation manuals from the vendors?

Demetria Caldwell: No, we don’t have the operational manuals for the equipment, but we do provide the contact and website which generally has that available.


Amy Sebring: Time to wrap for today. Thank you very much Demetria. We appreciate your taking the time to be with us today and share this information, and wish you continued success with your efforts in the future.

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Thanks to everyone for participating today and have a great afternoon.