To learn about their community’s health needs, tenth-graders met with the town manager and fire chief. They found that emergency responders lose critical time when called to a fire or accident because they can’t quickly identify possible hazards and access ways (such as the location of overhead electrical wires, doorways and stairs).
The students decided that they wanted to create a tool to make emergency situations safer for all involved. They began by surveying residents of one neighborhood, requesting specific information about their homes and yards that might be needed by emergency workers.
After analyzing the surveys with the fire chief, town manager and others, the students decided to use a Geographic Information System (GIS) to map potential hazards and other information relevant to fire fighters or medical responders. Using the data they had gathered, students created a prototype map of the neighborhood they had surveyed.
They presented their neighborhood prototype to the Town Council, local firefighters and Emergency Medical Technician students at Southern Maine Community College. Their creative approach to this common challenge faced by emergency workers was well received. Town manager, Bill Shane, said he was “impressed” with the work of the students and spokeswomen for the Fire Department, Kristin Kloth, said currently firefighters have little knowledge of a building when they respond and it is “pretty cool what (technology) can do.” The Town Council is currently raising the funds necessary to expand the students’ GIS mapping plan to the entire town.