News & Happenings

September 26, 2017

Experts Use CAMEO Suite to Provide Vital Data to Hurricane Harvey Response Teams

Coutoulakis teaches an NCBRT CAMEO class.Instructors with the Louisiana State University National Center for Biomedical Research and Training worked together with colleagues to use data from the "Introduction to Computer-Aided Management of Emergency Operations (CAMEO) Suite" classes taught in the area affected by Hurricane Harvey to identify chemical storage facilities in the hurricane's aftermath.

"I had a friend, who is currently deployed in the region and has been assigned to rescue efforts, but he was aware that there were many chemical storage facilities within the area his team was deployed," said E. Stefan Coutoulakis, LSU-NCBRT instructor and Rhode Island Emergency Management Association director.


Due to his concern about the risks posed by these chemical storage facilities, Coutoulakis' friend inquired about CAMEO data for this region, so Coutoulakis contacted all LSU-NCBRT instructors who have taught in the area and a few of his colleagues for help.


Tom Campbell, with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, helped secure permission and coordination with the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency's State Emergency Response Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency Boston Region 1 through Len Wallace.


"We established a planning sector and ensured that all of our collected data would be distributed in an organized fashion while protecting its content. All activities were to completely work within NIMS protocol and support Houston's unified command posture," said Coutoulakis.


Campbell and Coutoulakis coordinated a similar operation in 2005 when their teams were deployed during Hurricane Katrina with no available data.  "We were able to create a solid CAMEO and Marplot database for southern Louisiana, so our teams would have situational awareness. Although the operation was not sanctioned at the time, it proved to be effective as our teams were responding into unfamiliar jurisdictions, but they were armed with data to accomplish their missions," said Coutoulakis.


Using lessons learned during Hurricane Katrina, the operational approach used during Hurricane Harvey was made in a more timely fashion, ahead of potential deployments. "This time New England teams will be armed with accurate information with regional understanding to accomplish missions based upon lignite, strategic and tactical concerns. Everyone will have complete operational coordination," said Coutoulakis.


Through the efforts of Coutoulakis, Campbell, Wallace, and a team of LSU-NCBRT instructors, data for over 56,000 facilities in the affected 58 counties of Texas and west Louisiana was collected. Hurricane Harvey deployment teams are now using this data, which was collected in just 72 hours with the use of the CAMEO suite.


"Our data is pertinent and will make a difference during any mitigation and recovery operation," said Coutoulakis.