September 7, 2006 Simulating one of the most demanding and mission critical roles available to a human being, Incident Commander is a PC-based simulation that provides a safe environment for first responders, emergency personnel and multi-agency personnel to train, plan, and prepare for emergency and crisis situations. Developed for the U.S. Department of Justice by BreakAway, Incident Commander can train up to 16 players simultaneously, with users assuming roles as either the commander or members of the operations team. The game simulates various crisis scenarios, including a natural disaster, a school hostage situation, and a terrorism incident and can be customised with the addition of new locations, buildings, structures, crisis events, and emergency agencies to more accurately portray local community situations. Screenshots of the software here.
Screenshots of the software here.
"To be successful, an incident commander and his or her team must be able to rapidly set up strategic staging areas for emergency personnel, allocate appropriate resources, and deploy appropriate tasks to Public Works, EMT, Police, and Fire units," explains Lucien Parsons, Director of Licensed Products for BreakAway's Federal Systems Division.
"Incident Commander allows users to do exactly that," Parsons continues, "by providing them with a detailed, fast-paced environment that simulates the life and death decision-making that first responders face in emergency situations."
For the severe storm recovery scenario, for example, users must deal with broken water mains, gas leaks, destroyed buildings, obstructed roads, and injured civilians. Rapid deployment of responder squads is further complicated by downed trees blocking roads.
Joseph Barlow, an Adams County, Illinois Emergency Response Team member who was deployed to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and helped set up an 800-bed hospital for citizens displaced by Hurricane Katrina, notes, "I ended up being the logistics officer for the entire facility. It just so happens that I had spent the week before using Incident Commander in depth. The lessons learned by playing the simulation fed directly into the practices of setting up an incident command structure and then operating within that structure."
"Incident Commander provides the small-to-medium-size jurisdiction with an effective, low-cost training simulation that not only better prepares first responders for a crisis, but does so in an entertaining and engaging medium," says Mike O'Shea, Project Manager for the National Institute of Justice's Office of Science and Technology.
The U.S. Department of Justice, which funded Incident Commander, will be distributing the simulation to first responders and emergency personnel free of charge. To receive a copy, users will need to register at incidentcommander.net or at one of the training classes that the Department is holding at all major first responder conferences.
BreakAway is currently working on a new product which will expand on the capabilities of Incident Commander and enable users to more easily build their own environments and make real-time modifications to in-progress scenarios. It will be commercially available with an expected release date of 2007.