APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
First Response Team of America studies weather patterns and communicates regularly with top meteorologists from The Weather Channel to track movement of the worst storms and to anticipate when and where the next disaster may strike. It pre-positions its fleet and staff near potential storm locations and deploys immediately to the affected community once alerted of a strike. By pre-positioning, the Team is able to more quickly reach those in need.
When First Response Team of America arrives at the devastated community, it first identifies the local leadership charged with the response efforts, which are generally local municipalities and fire departments, and reaches out to offer them personnel, trucks and equipment. With its resources, First Response Team augments the capabilities of the local responders.
First Response Team provides these services free of charge because disasters strike indiscriminately and place people in a position in which they require specialized resources. The organization does not believe in discussing payment at a time when communities are suffering and many loved ones are either missing or dead. Historically speaking, there is a need for accountability and appropriate use of funds when helping people in disasters.
First Response Team incurs an average cost of approximately $35,000 per week at an average disaster site and generally stays in a community for 2 to 4 weeks and up to 2 months on large disasters, such as the Haiti earthquake, Joplin tornado and Hurricane Katrina.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
Beginning with the 2012 storm season, First Response Team of America plans to scale up its operations, pending the availability of funding. This scaling will consist of increased staffing and equipment being deployed to each disaster, as well as an increase in the amount of disasters to which the team responds on an annual basis, thereby increasing the number of people who are helped. Currently, First Response Team responds to about 8 storms per year. By the end of 2014, First Response Team aims to be in a position to respond to 11 major disasters per year, or a total increase of 37.5%. In addition, First Response Team will move from a current staff of 4 to a staff of 12 by the completion of its commitment.
Effectiveness will be measured by the number of staffing hired, the number of dollars raised, the number of people helped, the reduction of delivery time of services, the increased number of storm responses, and the increased amount of money saved by a community. The timeline for action begins January 2012 and plans completion for December 2014.
First Response Team's staffing timeline is divided into 2 phases over the 3 years:
Phase 1 = Years 1 & 2
- Hire 2 office staff (Director of Development & Administrative Assistant) and 1 additional field team member (Director of Field Operations)
Phase 2 = Year 3
- Hire 1 office staff (Chief Operating Officer) and 4 field team members (1 Safety Coordinator, 1 Team Supervisor and 2 Field Team Responders).
The team made its commitment near the end of the 2011 storm season after having worked in Joplin, MO for 3 months.
Too often, communities are left on their own to respond to a disaster because the resources necessary for rescue and recovery-equipment, tools and personnel-are damaged, inaccessible or unavailable. 86% of fire departments in the U.S. are comprised of volunteers who respond to fires and car accidents, while local municipalities generally provide maintenance support for snow and garbage removal. However, when faced with a large-scale disaster such as a flood, hurricane, tornado or earthquake, local responders often do not have the ability to respond to those in need. First Response Team delivers unique and specialized equipment in the initial hours, expediting the response, saving lives and jump-starting recovery.
While there are many organizations that provide food, water and shelter for survivors of disasters, there is not an organization that provides specialized equipment and experienced staff for the immediate needs of the leaders and members of communities, free of charge. The First Response Team model has worked in 34 responses, and the organization has gleaned experience from responding to disasters of every size and scope.