What is GeoSat, and how does it affect firefighters and first responders? GeoSat refers to a specific satellite mission by NASA that uses geostationary satellites. Geostationary satellites are Earth observation satellites placed in geostationary orbit, meaning they orbit the Earth at the same rotational speed as the planet, allowing them to remain fixed above a particular location on the Earth’s surface. The result is that they can provide continuous coverage of a specific region, making them particularly useful for weather monitoring, communication services, and other applications that require constant observation.
It is worth noting that multiple geostationary satellites are operated by different organizations worldwide, including NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and various national space agencies and commercial entities. Each satellite has its mission objectives and specific capabilities.
GeoSat data was not specifically designed to be used for firefighting purposes. However, satellites, in general, including geostationary satellites, can contribute to firefighting efforts indirectly by providing valuable data and information. The idea that geostationary satellites may provide valuable data for firefighters and first responders is now being explored.
Satellites equipped with thermal sensors or infrared cameras can detect and monitor fires from space. They can identify areas of intense heat, map fire spread, and provide real-time information to firefighting teams. This data can help in situational awareness, resource allocation, and tactical decision-making during firefighting operations.
Satellites equipped with weather instruments can provide data on weather conditions, including temperature, humidity, wind patterns, and precipitation. These weather parameters play a crucial role in fire behavior and can assist firefighters in predicting fire growth, assessing fire danger, and planning their strategies accordingly.
Satellites can capture high-resolution imagery of fire-affected areas, points of access and egress, possible evacuation sites, structure location and type, and open water sources, including detailed maps and visualizations of burned areas, active fire fronts, and potential fire perimeters. This information aids in understanding the extent of the fire, identifying exposures, and assisting in evacuation and containment strategies.
Satellites can monitor the impact of fires on the environment by assessing smoke plumes, air quality, and the spread of pollutants. This data helps authorities respond appropriately to protect public health and mitigate environmental damage. This data might also be used to estimate emergency medical service needs in a specific location. Wildfire smoke plume exposure may be directly tied to an increased call load for specific complaint types, such as Difficult Respirations and Chest Pain.
It appears plausible that wildfire smoke would lead to an increased EMS call load. Smoke from brush fires can adversely affect public health, particularly for individuals with respiratory conditions or underlying health issues. When brush fires produce significant amounts of smoke, they can cause respiratory irritation and exacerbate existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other health concerns.
Exposure to smoke regularly results in coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, eye and throat irritation, and difficulty breathing. It seems reasonable to expect that this can lead to respiratory distress and acute respiratory emergencies. People experiencing respiratory distress or exacerbation of existing conditions due to smoke may require medical assistance from EMS (Emergency Medical Services). This can lead to an increased call load for EMS providers as they respond to and manage respiratory distress cases, administer appropriate treatments, and transport patients to medical facilities for further care. In situations where firefighters are the primary EMS providers, this adds strain on essential resources.
Fire agencies in brush fire-prone areas participating in EMS activities should be aware, anticipate, and plan for increased call volumes during these events. They may need to adjust resource allocation, coordinate with healthcare facilities, and request public health advisories earlier to manage the increased demand for emergency medical services related to brush fire smoke. Fire agencies should also become more involved in investigating the potential of GeoSat data for firefighting and EMS.
Understanding the probability of an increased call load due to medical emergencies, GeoSat may provide advanced information to help prepare for such incidents. To help with this research, please complete this short, 17-question survey to gather insights on how GeoSat data could be better used to provide beneficial information when responding to wildfire-related medical emergencies. Feel free to contact the authors with questions, comments, or recommendations about this article or GeoSat data use for firefighters.
Erick Lauridsen EMS Battalion Captain (Retired) Los Angeles Fire Department ELauridsen@gwu.edu
Ajay K Gupta CISSP, MBA Founder & CEO HSR Health firstname.lastname@example.org