National Disaster Communication Response Team

Natural disasters come in many shapes and sizes. From tsunami, floods, hurricanes and typhoons, to tornadoes, volcanoes and drought, our planet deals with the horror of disaster throughout the year. Today, technology, information and communication play an increasingly important role in managing natural disasters. Thanks to the technological advancement in communication, we get a near real-time view of natural disasters and at the same time see several disaster response teams arriving quickly at the site of major adverse event for providing disaster reliefs and responses. Organisations like National Disaster Communication Response Team (NDCRT) together with regional nations build disaster planning models, organize their resources based on this model, and then respond to major problems in the best possible and timely manner.

Background: National Disaster Communication Response Team (NDCRT)

National Disaster Communication Response Team is an unverified non-profit organisation registered in the United States with the main objective of voluntarily offering technical assistance for electronic communications during a major adverse event caused by the natural forces of the Earth. The organisation provides electronic communications’ technical assistance to those the regional relief agencies and organisations which are participating in missions of humanitarian aid during time of disaster. NDCRT also supplies equipment and manpower to a disaster-hit area, both at the national and regional levels. This not for profit organisation has strong ties with similar organisations in America and around the world that are often deployed for disaster reliefs and responses. Volunteers in the organisation are equipped with the necessary radio communication skills to respond in times of calamities. They are also trained to tackle the issues and many challenges faced by communication response team during the disaster.

NDCRT also trains and develop volunteers with the capabilities to respond and provide technical expertise for electronic communications to the relief agencies when there is a national disaster response. The dedicated volunteers of the organisation are trained to locate radios, mobile signals, and even audio signals of people stranded in remote areas. Trained to use the state-of-the-art communication technologies, NDCRT volunteers are capable of using advanced technologies like Infrared scanning to easily locate a person or family stranded in a remote area or jungle. Equipped with such technologically advanced communication tools, NDCRT plays a key role when a large scale disaster occurs where local, state, and federal agencies work together to create a systematic approach to deal with such emergency situations. The organisation is committed to investing in its team and provide training and skills required by an emergency response team for performing various tasks in the field. They are having:

  • effective and early response
  • solid expertise and technical knowledge in
  • leadership skills
  • radio communication
  • Capabilities of information sharing amongst the emergency management team
  • Facilitate effective communication among successful emergency management team members
  • solid expertise and technical knowledge in communication processes
  • patient handling
  • logistical assistance
  • urban search and rescue
  • rope and sea rescue

NDCRT members are able to rapidly process every aspect of disasters and extract the key information for quick and clear transmission to senior officials in charge of disaster management and emergency response participants. They also are confident in their abilities to organise and bring together internal and external resources required for immediate disaster response and continuity of rescue and relief operations.

Role of National Disaster Communication Response Team During Natural Disasters

As mentioned before, information and communication technology is playing a critical role in performing missions of humanitarian aid during the time of disaster, and so does the National Disaster Communication Response Team members. While we cannot prevent natural disasters, or predict when and where they will strike or the amount of catastrophic damage they will inflict, we do have the power to develop new technologies and mobile applications that make it possible to estimate how much damage, loss, or destruction will happen due to unplanned catastrophic events. The NDCRT has and is continually improving its information and communications technologies including radio broadcasts, cable over-ride systems, remote sensing, warning and forecasting system, sirens and phone messaging systems in order to assist relief agencies in helping and locating residents trapped in the storm and require emergency rescues. Below are a few ways the efficient NDCRT members are contributing in relief management during crises- including both natural disasters and man-made disaster:

Rescue missions - It is quite possible that mobile service and landlines can go down during natural disasters. The NDCRT members are well versed in using walkie-talkie app and other innovative navigations apps that allow them to locate trapped people and rescue them. In the time of major disasters, the rescue team is able to rescue thousands of people through the power of these tools. In recent years, considerable attention has been given to technical communication for providing useful information and assistance in the preparation, assessment and relief phases of the disaster management cycle. For instance, projects and applications have been developed to allow two way communication between rescue teams/aid agencies and people affected by natural disasters, even when there is no network coverage. These days drones and robots have been used to locate survivors and to drop humanitarian aid. They have also been used to transmit information to emergency teams. The team is capable of creating a map from social media relief updates via innovative online tools and applications which can be sent to aid agencies that get real-time updates from affected areas and implement their relief efforts effectively.

Google Person Finder - Developed in 2010 in response to the Haiti earthquake, this is another innovative piece of technology which the NDCRT use to help with disaster relief efforts. This open source web application, available in about 40 languages, allows users to post and search for the status of their loved ones affected by a disaster. In the recent times, several organisations are utilising such online tools and applications to help disaster relief agencies to assess damage, collect information, supplies and other resources, to coordinate resource and relief activities and to account for missing people. There’s a small suitcase-sized device is developed that can help to rescue people buried several feet underground by detecting their heartbeats. While there are no simple, quick fix solutions in disaster management, drones, robots and other innovations are providing a lifeline in natural disasters.

Setting up Critical Communications Facilities - When power and communications go off following a disaster, National Disaster Communication Response Team steps in to create a network of communication and navigation and save the life of people. It sets up critical communications facilities, such as portable mobile network and practical technological applications, to help restore communications at disaster sites and provide the affected people free internet and access to devices. Well equipped with state-of-the-art electronic communication tool and devices as well as modern equipment and efficient manpower, the organisation’s technical assistance team has been deployed many times following the biggest disasters in recent years around the globe. Among other things, the NDCRT’s advanced techniques of information technology such as remote sensing, radio, satellite communication, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) etc. has helped for implementation of disaster management and provided the most effective, and in some catastrophic events perhaps the sole means of communication with the outside world. The GIS and RS, specifically, are essential for effective communication, planning and training tool for disaster management. When these technologies are incorporated into disaster preparedness then it makes it possible for disaster supervisors to view the scope of a natural catastrophe, calculate the extent of damage at the disaster struck area, and get rough estimate of loss of life and property damage from disasters. The efficient team of the organisation assist the military troops and humanitarian agencies to obtain three-dimensional images of terrain and infrastructure so that the vital resources, such as food, water, tents, blankets, and medical supplies, can be effectively dispatched. The 3-D images of the affected zone make it possible for robots and drones to enter dangerous, difficult-to-reach territories following natural disasters. Using this information, these advanced machines can be programmed for search and rescue in a disaster situation, and enable drones to airdrop humanitarian aid into disaster zones.

A stupendous number of people are killed every year in natural disasters worldwide. Rescue teams, aid agencies and NGOs often rely on technology to conduct rescue missions and for implementation of disaster management in order to help those who have been affected. Over the years, new online tools and applications have been developed to aid in disaster relief and improve the efficacy and efficiency of first responders. In summary, National Disaster Communication Response Team (NDCRT) systematically create and maintain accurate, relevant, and on-time geoinformation that aid in efficient implementation of disaster management activities. The organisation is advancing in the field of electronic communication technology to help a great deal in the implementation of emergency preparedness, hazards reduction schemes and response action. With an efficiency and expertise in using the newer and varied technologies, ranging from enabling the affected persons to send a simple text message to call their loved ones and to detecting a heartbeat deep below the ground in a disaster situation, NDCRT collaborates with the private sector, government agencies, international organizations and NGOs in humanitarian relief following a natural disaster.