STERLING, Va. -- The Sterling, Va., Volunteer Fire Company (SVFC) deployed Xybernaut Atigo products to all three of its stations (Sterling Park, Sugarland and Cascades) in the northern Virginia community.

Serving as frontline computing/communication devices during critical incidents, the Atigo products are being used at all levels of the company -- from the company chiefs, to captains as well as teams of firefighters and other emergency response professionals.

The SVFC serves a widespread fast-growing community in eastern Loudoun County. Emergency responses in the Sterling community have more than doubled in less than a decade to more than 3,000 per year. Despite the rampant growth in the surrounding community and the exponential increase in emergency calls, the SVFC maintains the fastest average response time of any Loudoun County Fire Service even though it is the busiest company in the county.

"Speed, efficiency, safety and accuracy are the hallmarks of everything we do and the fundamental elements of our success," said Mickey Buchanan, SVFC chief. "As a result, we are constantly looking for techniques and technologies that will help us perform at a higher level."

The Critical Incident Response Tool Set will allow first responders and subsequent emergency personnel to manage operations by having various types of critical information at their fingertips, including building floor plans/schematics, specific images related to a facility or site, incident command protocols and other critical response data.

The company, working closely with the SVFC, is integrating its wearable computing devices with the fire company's existing IT infrastructure. The Atigo is a smart Web pad computer, providing immediate access to critical information available via wireless communications and/or the Internet. The information is available on an as-needed, where-needed basis, making it suited to emergency response situations.

This equipment allows critical incident response teams to formulate tactical plans while en-route to a crisis situation, decreasing deployment time and increasing operational efficiency. Once on site, responders coordinating various efforts and teams will continue to have access to critical information via the wearable computers.

When appropriate, critical response information -- such as Federal Emergency Management Agency guidelines for HAZMAT situations -- can be downloaded for easy access during emergencies. Other types of data such as digital photographs, video, or information from diagnostic equipment can be captured or sent to remote locations using wireless or hard-wired networks. Schematic diagrams and technical specifications can be viewed on the flat-panel displays in dark settings or in sunlight.

Miriam Jones  |  Chief Copy Editor