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Start Date

16-8-2018 12:00 AM

Description

A first responder (FR) is an individual who arrives first at a hazardous material incident site and takes the initiative to act in order to minimize the risk to public health and property. Often the FRs are firefighters. Information collected by interviewing three large city Fire Departments in the Midwestern USA reveal that the FRs often experience severe health related issues resulting from physical exertion, psychological stress and extreme working conditions. These issues range from thermoregulatory exhaustion and acute dehydration to fatal cardiac arrest, cancer and suicides. Past research shows that 39% of FR fatalities are due to heart failure and 61% due to reasons like trauma, burns, etc. (Perroni, et al., 2014). \ \ To ensure FRs’ safety, the incident commander (IC) monitors critical information about FRs and the incident site. The IC’s decision regarding FRs’ safe evacuation or withdrawal from the site is dependent on the collected information. The most critical parameters for an IC to monitor during such emergencies are the FR’s heart rate, core body temperature, available oxygen percentage and environmental air quality. The user interfaces (UI) of two distinct displays currently used to monitor the scenario often have slow response times with issues related to data organization, navigation and display. The continuous exchange of information from heterogeneous sources and lack of an integrated visualization system of the most relevant information can lead to a cognitive overload of the IC resulting in sub-optimal judgement (Xu, 2009). \ \ The focus of this study is to assess the most usable design formats to visualize the critical parameters’ information, ICs need to make effective decisions and the best way to organize an integrated display. Specifically, the research question is: What are the most critical display design formats that will optimize the performance and decision making of an incident commander during a hazmat response situation? \ \ Each identified critical parameter will be represented through different design display formats. The designs will be developed iteratively using standard guidelines and feedback from expert UI designers. These designs will be examined in a scenario-based simulated testing environment in collaboration with real-life FRs and ICs. The study will follow a mixed-method approach involving a qualitative interview session and survey to evaluate the usability of these designs. The interview will consist of open-ended questions to record the reflections of our participants (FRs, ICs) and rationale behind their preferences for each design. This interview will be followed by a survey based on the validated instruments of Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) and WebQual. The expected contribution of this study is to identify visual design formats to improve the representation of critical parameters that will help the IC make fast and well-informed decisions regarding safe monitoring and evacuation of FRs from the incident site. The funding for this study is supported by US DoT Region-VII UTC 25-1121-0005-110.

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Aug 16th, 12:00 AM

Improving Decision-Making for Incident Commanders by Analyzing Visualizations for First Responder’s Vital Information

A first responder (FR) is an individual who arrives first at a hazardous material incident site and takes the initiative to act in order to minimize the risk to public health and property. Often the FRs are firefighters. Information collected by interviewing three large city Fire Departments in the Midwestern USA reveal that the FRs often experience severe health related issues resulting from physical exertion, psychological stress and extreme working conditions. These issues range from thermoregulatory exhaustion and acute dehydration to fatal cardiac arrest, cancer and suicides. Past research shows that 39% of FR fatalities are due to heart failure and 61% due to reasons like trauma, burns, etc. (Perroni, et al., 2014). \ \ To ensure FRs’ safety, the incident commander (IC) monitors critical information about FRs and the incident site. The IC’s decision regarding FRs’ safe evacuation or withdrawal from the site is dependent on the collected information. The most critical parameters for an IC to monitor during such emergencies are the FR’s heart rate, core body temperature, available oxygen percentage and environmental air quality. The user interfaces (UI) of two distinct displays currently used to monitor the scenario often have slow response times with issues related to data organization, navigation and display. The continuous exchange of information from heterogeneous sources and lack of an integrated visualization system of the most relevant information can lead to a cognitive overload of the IC resulting in sub-optimal judgement (Xu, 2009). \ \ The focus of this study is to assess the most usable design formats to visualize the critical parameters’ information, ICs need to make effective decisions and the best way to organize an integrated display. Specifically, the research question is: What are the most critical display design formats that will optimize the performance and decision making of an incident commander during a hazmat response situation? \ \ Each identified critical parameter will be represented through different design display formats. The designs will be developed iteratively using standard guidelines and feedback from expert UI designers. These designs will be examined in a scenario-based simulated testing environment in collaboration with real-life FRs and ICs. The study will follow a mixed-method approach involving a qualitative interview session and survey to evaluate the usability of these designs. The interview will consist of open-ended questions to record the reflections of our participants (FRs, ICs) and rationale behind their preferences for each design. This interview will be followed by a survey based on the validated instruments of Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) and WebQual. The expected contribution of this study is to identify visual design formats to improve the representation of critical parameters that will help the IC make fast and well-informed decisions regarding safe monitoring and evacuation of FRs from the incident site. The funding for this study is supported by US DoT Region-VII UTC 25-1121-0005-110.