GIS Supporting Collaborative Mission Training for Rescue Operations in Hazardous Environments


Johan Jenvald,Mirko Thorstensson,Markus Axelsson,Magnus Morin


The preparedness of our society to respond to major emergencies depends on a number of factors including adequate planning, available equipment and appropriate organisation of rescue forces and their command and control structures. Ultimately, the outcome of a rescue operation is determined by the ability of the personnel to master a dynamically unfolding situation utilising the resources at hand. To establish, maintain and develop this ability, throughout a rescue organisation, it is vital to provide efficient and recurrent training at individual, team and task-force level.

In this paper we concentrate on mission training, where several rescue teams, co-ordinated by a common commander and staff, respond to a fictitious emergency based on a selected training scenario. We identify the different phases of an emergency response exercise and investigate how a geographical information system (GIS) can support scenario selection, scenario tuning, data validation, simulation and analysis before, during and after an exercise. For instance, we demonstrate how a GIS provides information about limitations in terrain and infrastructure, which is used to select and tune a training scenario that is appropriate with respect to the training objectives of the exercise and the training status of the units. In another example we show how terrain information from a GIS provides input to a detailed simulation of the propagation of toxic agents, thus allowing for a more realistic representation of chemical hazards in the training situation.

We relate GIS to an existing mission training support system in an overview of their ability to efficiently support the different phases of a mission training exercise. We argue that they contribute in different ways. Generally, GIS supports the early phases, including exercise planning and scenario generation, and in-depth analysis after the exercise, including generation of alternative tactical solutions and plan modification based on lessons learned during the exercise. Conversely, a mission training support system typically upport simulation, data-collection and presentation during and after an exercise. We conclude that GIS has an important role to play in mission training exercises, but it remains an open issue how to best benefit from the support provided by GIS and mission training support systems, respectively.