EZ-EAP: A Mobile Application Digitalizing Emergency Action Plans for Buildings, Universities, and Institutions; Team Organization and Plan Development: How Large Institutions Optimize Their Response to Emergencies

Peppers, A.J., School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Wylie, Caitlin, EN-Engineering and Society EN-Engineering and Society PV-Institutional Research and Analytics, University of Virginia
Morrison, Briana, EN-Comp Science Dept EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia

Institutions regularly face emergencies requiring urgent assistance, including but not limited to the likes of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and medical emergencies. Given the volume of these emergencies alongside the associated consequences– like potentially fatal casualties, significant property damage, and mass public hysteria– it is imperative that there is a procedure or team in place to curb the potentially critical damages that said emergencies may rapidly bring. My sociotechnical research considers how institutions can optimize this by focusing on cultural tenets of organizations, aspects of effective procedure development, inter-procedural comparison, and intuitive incorporation of technology. My technical project–EZ-EAP, a mobile application that digitalizes emergency action plans– serves as an example of the last of these focuses in the realm of athletic departments.

For athletic organizations around the United States, EAPs, or emergency action plans, are documents detailing how to address common health and event emergencies that may occur within an athletic event (for example, a head injury to an athlete). These EAPs are most frequently only available in a physical form, and only 43% of surveyed athletic trainers claim to have them posted at athletic venues in the first place (Scarneo et al., 2019). Due to this, athletic directors and their staff are often unprepared to handle time-critical emergencies, with communication of EAP material especially being a hindrance. EZ-EAP is a mobile application that addresses this by serving as a digital platform where EAPs can be uploaded, shared, and activated. Large institutions are able to upload PDFs of physical EAPs, share them with relevant responders and constituencies, and notify them of plan activation. Such relevant incorporation of technology–one of the focuses of my sociotechnical research–streamlines viewing an EAP for relevant parties, as the EAP can be reached on the app in seconds as opposed to searching for the physical form.

As previously mentioned, intuitive incorporation of technology is only one of many relevant aspects that must be considered in the optimization of institutional emergency response. Beyond this, it is imperative that institutions develop concrete and structured plans and practices, curate emergency response teams to enact them, and reflect on the results of their procedures and teams to improve their response. My sociotechnical research considers how this synthetical approach applies to many different prominent emergency response teams, like S.W.A.T. teams, firefighting teams, and METs (medical emergency teams). A contrast between what elements of emergency response led to successful damage prevention and what elements led to failure illustrates the different areas in which these teams excel and require improvement. It further illustrates how all of the aforementioned elements rely on each other, and a distinct weakness in one is a significant flaw in overall procedure. The minute cultural and practical nuances that differentiate these institutions is also touched upon, with an awareness of said nuances allowing for more accurate curation of emergency response teams and procedure.

I ultimately feel that both my technical project and my sociotechnical research were effective in expanding upon the optimization of institutional emergency response. EZ-EAP is planned to become available on the app store by the end of April, with athletic departments at local high schools and colleges serving as the initial client base. As use of the application becomes more thorough and widespread, we can reflect on which features are most useful to users vs. those that are redundant or convoluted. In regards to my sociotechnical research, it presents a largely general conclusion universally applicable to all institutions. It is likely that there are specific nuances for a given institution requiring research beyond the scope of mine. This is research that would be not only compelling but also beneficial to be conducted on its own merit.

For assistance in the development of EZ-EAP, I would like to give thanks to Jacob Swisher, my fellow co-founder of EZ-EAP, and Hewitt Tomlin and James Peters, co-founders of the mobile application TeamBuildr who gave constructive advice in start-up development with a similar client base. For assistance in the development of my sociotechnical thesis, I would like to give thanks to Briana Morrison, my technical advisor, Peter Norton, my STS 4500 professor, and Caitlyn Wylie, my STS 4600 professor.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Emergency Response, Emergency Action Plan, Emergency, Optimization

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Technical Advisor: Briana Morrison

STS Advisor: Caitlin Wylie

Technical Team Members: Jacob Swisher

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