First Responders to Get WISER, Thanks to DOT, HHS

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the 2008 Emergency Response Guidebook is the go-to reference for first responders to help them quickly identify hazardous material classifications, determine the best response, and protect themselves and the public immediately after an incident. Now, because of a joint effort between DOT and the Department of Health and Human Services, responders will for the first time have electronic access to the guidebook's info through laptops and PDAs for potentially even faster fact finding.

Signed in late June, an agreement between the DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the HHS National Library of Medicine led to the development of a special software application called the Wireless Information System for Emergency Responsers, or WISER, which makes the electronic guidebook accessible through palm devices like the Blackberry and other PDAs, some phones, and Windows-based laptops and desktops.

"This new digital tool will give our police, firefighters, and other emergency responders first on the scene the information they need to make the rapid-fire decisions necessary to protect the public and themselves," said Ted Willke, PHMSA associate administrator for hazardous materials safety.

For more information, visit http://hazmat.dot.gov/pubs/erg/gydebook.htm/ . For information on WISER visit http://wiser.nlm.nih.gov/.

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