PEMA Expands Web-Based Incident Reporting System For Homeland Security

HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 30, 2004 -- Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director David M. Sanko today announced the expansion of the Web-based component of the Commonwealth's incident-reporting system for all homeland- security issues.

Commonwealth agencies, as well as county and local emergency management personnel, can log on to the PEMA Web site and view or post real-time message traffic about emergency incidents on the system, known as the Pennsylvania Emergency Incident Reporting System. PEIRS will allow county and local governments to post emergency information on their Web sites quickly.

"Communication is the most important element in emergency response," said Sanko. "In large-scale emergencies, numerous organizations and emergency responders must be notified and updated as the event unfolds."

Gathering and managing the details of thousands of incidents, quickly coordinating with other state and federal agencies and tracking each incident from inception to resolution are essential mandates of PEMA. To meet this challenge, PEMA has placed its active emergency incident log on a data platform that is accessible through the agency's Web site.

Currently, PEMA has granted access to its incident reporting system to more than 3,000 subscribers.

"Access rights are assigned to individuals for security and accountability purposes," Sanko said. "That way we always know who is accessing and posting incident information to our log."

According to Sanko, PEIRS has been designated as the state incident- reporting system by the Governor's Office for all homeland-security issues and recommended as a "best practice" by the Emergency Management Accreditation Program.

In addition, Governor Edward G. Rendell recently signed into law Act 56 of 2003 that requires county 9-1-1 centers to participate in the state's designated reporting system for all incidents.

PEMA receives more than 5,000 emergency incidents annually.

"PEIRS has been in development and testing for several years," Sanko said. "However, only recently has it completely engaged the Web access component." PEIRS is a system for categorizing and reporting emergency incidents. PEMA has published and distributed a PEIRS Field Guide to provide guidance and quick reference to users.

Local responders handle most emergency incidents. PEMA monitors these incidents and determines if they meet certain state and federal threshold levels for response. PEMA makes notifications from the State Emergency Operations Center, the state's 24-hour watch center.

"We continually strive to improve ways in which we handle emergency information in the State Emergency Operations Center in terms of quality and timeliness, each of which is important," Sanko said. "We have found that through combining our data platform with the Web technology we have been able to accomplish this. PEIRS is a work in progress and we will continue to improve the system."

PEMA is responsible for the reporting, response, and management of a wide range of emergency incidents from across the state. For more information on PEMA and PEIRS, visit the PA Emergency Management Agency Web site at

      CONTACT:   Maria A. Smith
                 (717) 651-2009

SOURCE Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency
Web Site: