OK-FIRST! OKlahoma’s First-response Information Resource System using Telecommunications Dale Morris Program Coordinator for Public Safety Oklahoma Climate Survey University of Oklahoma Norman, OK http://okfirst.ocs.ou.edu
What is OCS? A state agency established in 1980 located at the University of Oklahoma (Norman) and governed by the OU Board of Regents support structure for the State Climatologist (OCS Director) Legislative Mandate “Acquire, archive, process, and disseminate, in the most cost-effective way possible, all climate and weather information that is or could be of value to policy and decision makers in the state.”
Historical Basis 1964: U.S. Weather Bureau Report: informed decisions on the part of users of weather information are needed if such information is to be translated into beneficial action research in improving the link between meteorological service and the users of weather information was markedly deficient several major user groups received little or no attention from the meteorological community 1980: National Research Council Report: many potential users of NWS data products unaware of information available.
Historical Basis of OK-FIRST Flood Tornado
What’s the Problem? Local, public-safety agencies have been ill-equipped withcurrent and easy-to-access weather information for years. Information-based tools were not available at the communitylevel. many local offices relied solely on television broadcasts. some annual budgets ~ $1,000. Dividends from the NWS modernization at the local level seemed destined to be limited. A state agency, such as OCS, could act as a “bridge” between the local community and the NWS.
The Oklahoma Solution 1995: NEXRAD Redistribution Opportunity 1990s: Explosion of the Internet & OneNet. 1996: $550,000 TIIAP/TOP grant. 1999 and beyond: $250,000annually from Oklahoma Legislature through DPS.
An initiative by OCS to develop a decision-support system for Public Safety Agencies (Emergency Management, Fire, and Police) as a model for the rest of the country. Provides instruction on how to use and apply the weather data. What is OK-FIRST? Provides access to customized environmental information and products: Oklahoma Mesonet NEXRAD (~20 products from 15 radars + mosaics) National Weather Service text and graphic products
OK-FIRST Decision-Support System Information organized by type of data as well as by type of weather threat. “Two-screen mode”allows for productcomparisons and to monitor multiple threats simultaneously.
Entire NIDS Product Suite (23 products) Updated every 6-10 minutesRegional and National Mosaics 15 Area Radars PUX DDC ICT SGF VNX INX AMA TLX SRX LZK FDR LBB FWS DYX SHV NIDS Data Available via OK-FIRST
Current OK-FIRST and ONALERT Communities Fire Departments Fire Departments & Emer. Mgmt. Emergency Mgmt. Law Enforcement & Emer. Mgmt. Law Enforcement Other November 2001
Customer Feedback I used the OK-FIRST system [NIDS and Mesonet] to estimate that 6 ½ inches of rain fell in southern Pittsburg County. I was able to use that information to call the county commissioners and warn them that a particular bridge might wash away two hoursbefore the bridge was destroyed. The people here in McAlester and Pittsburg County are really sold on the system. -- Brent Young, Pittsburg County Emergency Management
Customer Feedback I used OK-FIRST to forecast a significant wind shift during a large grass fire. From Oklahoma Mesonet data, I initially detected a wind shift ahead of an advancing cold front. NIDS data from the Oklahoma City radar, in clear-air mode, [also] clearly showed the wind shift line. I then projected a precise arrival time, and passed the information to the Incident Commander, giving him 45 minutes lead time. With the advance warning, the IC refueled, rewatered, and repositioned brush pumpers near structures at the southeast edge of the fire. When the sudden wind shift occurred, equipment was in position to protect two rural houses and several outbuildings. Had the wind shift occurred without warning, the response time to the new head of the fire would have been 5-10 minutes after the IC recognized the wind shift. The exposures on the southeast flank would certainly have been seriously threatened. -- John Lewis, Logan County Emergency Management
Customer Feedback One spotter was assigned to a location west of Moore. As the storms moved in, our spotter coordinator decided -- due to her OK-FIRST display -- to move the spotter a couple of miles south. It was this spotter who gave us first knowledge of the large wall cloud that eventually spawned the tornado that destroyed/severely damaged a dozen homes and apartment buildings. The spotter’s call -- along with a warning from NWS Norman -- caused us to activate our warning system, and we provided our residents about 10 minutes of warning. There were NO injuries or fatalities from the storm. The spotter later told us (numerous times) that had the EOC not moved him, he would not have been in the proper location to see the wall cloud! This scenario is EXACTLY what OK-FIRST was designed to do! It certainly worked here!!! -- Gayland Kitch, City of Moore Emergency Management
The May 3, 1999 Tornado Outbreak: C. Duvall/Okla. Climate Survey Public Works Department/City of Oklahoma City Public Works Department/City of Oklahoma City OK-FIRST and Local Emergency Response Okla. Climate Survey R. McPherson, M. Wolfinbarger, C. Duvall, A. Reader, Okla. Climate Survey
Local Decisions Supported by OK-FIRST May 3, 1999
Guthrie/Logan County Emergency ManagementJohn Lewis May 3, 1999 • An ambulance transported an injured victim from Crescent to Guthrie. John prevented the ambulance from driving into a second tornado. • Mulhall was warned primarily by two law enforcement units sounding their sirens in town. The units were dispatched to Mulhall from the Sheriff’s office based upon OK-FIRST. The units warned the citizens until each was hit by debris. Only one injury in Mulhall. • Mulhall command post was moved because it was in the path of the second tornado.
Lincoln County Emergency ManagementBen Springfield • Tanger Mall was cleared of people before the storm arrived. • Rural citizens were informed by updates broadcast on scanner and took shelter. • Patients at Stroud Hospital were moved into hallways before debris filled the rooms.
Class I (23 participants in June 1997) Class II (22 participants in October 1997) Class III (24 participants in March 1998) Pre-tests and Post-tests concentrated on computer literacyand data interpretation instruction Focus groups and follow-up surveys assessed operational usage of software plus the quality and availability of technical support. Formally Evaluated 3 Classes of Participants Pre-tests, Post-tests, Focus Groups and Surveys Independent Evaluation Performed by Professor Tom James, Director of OU’s Institute for Public Affairs
Class I: 11% Class II: 16% Class III: 28% 98% of participants very satisfiedwith the OK-FIRST web site. 95% reported that the training helped them a great deal. “OK-FIRST staff were able to enhance significantly the knowledge and skills of the project participants in a very short period of time. This is even more impressive given the very technical nature of the material and the fact the participants did not come from technical backgrounds.” 97% were very or somewhat satisfied with ongoing project support. Survey Results about Web Site and Follow-up Support Independent Evaluation Data Interpretation Skills Improved from Pre-test to Post-Test
“The more you work with it, the more it factors into all your decisions. OK-FIRST information, being timely and accurate, has kept disasters from happening. Absolutely critical decisions become routine because good timely information kept you on top of the situation.” “We had an ambulance that needed to transport an individual to a different hospital during a flood. I was able to tell them the latest information about where the roads were covered and where they could get through.” “The number of times storm spotters are activated has been drastically reduced, and when they are activated, it is for a shorter duration. Also, fewer spotters are needed.” Independent Evaluation Anecdotal Information from Participants
Independent Evaluation Evaluator’s Summary Finding • “The project changed the behavior of local public safety officials and their approach to decision-making. OK-FIRST [has] had a positive influence on the types of decisions they make, how they make those decisions, and when they are willing to make those decisions. They are able to provide assistance to support a wide range of government and public service functions – from providing information to schedule public works projects to deciding to cancel the little league tournament scheduled for the weekend. Thus, the benefits that can accrue from the application of the skills developed through OK-FIRST can be far ranging and varied.”
Innovations in American Government AwardsHarvard University(Finalist in 1999, 2001) Special Award from the American Meteorological Society in 2001. Important for StormReady Accreditation by NWS. Finalist in 2001 Stockholm Challenge External Recognition Outstanding Contributors to Emergency Management by Oklahoma Emergency Management Association (1998, 1999).
OK-FIRST! OKlahoma’s First-response Information Resource System using Telecommunications http://okfirst.ocs.ou.edu