LORETTO - When disaster strikes, first responders can now turn to their iPads for support.
At least that was the goal of developers at St. Francis University with the creation of the Preliminary Disaster Assessment Reporting application, an iPad app tailored for emergency management officials.
Developed by students and faculty in the university's Center of Excellence for Remote and Medically Under-Served Areas, the application allows first responders to digitally track and record real-time information during emergency situations.
Information collected by first responders is traditionally recorded on paper while in the field, said Michael Shanafelt, CERMUSA lead programmer and system analyst.
"There's a whole bunch of fields mandated by FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] that they have to keep track of" while documenting emergency disasters, Shanafelt said.
Instead of transcribing handwritten notes into computer documents, emergency personnel can use the application to upload the same information digitally, Shanafelt said.
It allows users to take photos and include them in their reports. Those documents are uploaded to a secure website along with the coordinates and address of where the information was recorded, Shanafelt said.
CERMUSA licensed the app to InVue Innovations, which plans to market it as part of its Emergency Management-Disaster Assessment Reporting Tool suite of apps, InVue CEO Carl Svitko said.
"CERMUSA's PDAR represented an eloquent response to a glaring gap in available emergency response tools," Svitko said.
The app gives emergency officials a complete analysis of what is happening in the field and allows them to effectively coordinate resources, CERMUSA Director Jay Roberts said.
"This can capture all of that for them instantly," Roberts said. "That way it doesn't get in the way of all the care and treatment they're providing."
The app was developed in connection with developers at CERMUSA and Monmouth University in New Jersey, Shanafelt said.
Monmouth and CERMUSA developers envisioned the app replacing traditional "windshield assessments" filed by first responders, Shanafelt said.
"They identified this as a need and Monmouth came to us to put it together," he said.
St. Francis student Aaron Vizzini, along with recent graduate Kevin Richardson, helped develop the app.
"When I got there, they were in the midst of bringing it together," Vizzini said.
A computer science major, Vizzini said he helped to develop the iPad application and software necessary for the program to function.
CERMUSA and InVue are confident the app serves a needed function and hope the product will be a commercial success with emergency management organizations, Shanafelt said.
"I know this is something that's needed," Shanafelt said. "It can really help people ... and help save money and time."
Mirror Staff Writer Zach Geiger is at 946-7535.