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You can’t predict a disaster, but you can certainly plan for it. That has been the harsh lesson learned early in the 21st Century, highlighted by September 11 and the 2005 hurricane season. Since then, emergency planners have been seeking innovative and illustrative ways to better prepare American communities for a host of potential disaster scenarios.
Recently, the print shop at Fort Eustis was called upon to create huge aerial floor maps that emergency planners in various communities across America could lay out on a gym floor as a logistical tool.
Charlie Alston, digital imaging specialist at Fort Eustis, says the map allows planners from a spectrum of local, state, and federal agencies to better see and thus coordinate their efforts over vast and various tracts of highways, byways, and facilities.
“It’s an aerial view of the area where they’re coordinating an emergency preparedness plan. It allows them to show a large group of people in one place who deploys in the event of an emergency – such as HAZMAT teams, the National Guard, security, and so forth – when they deploy, and where they deploy,” explains Alston. “Each representative walks on top of the map and shows how their team will work across a geographical area.”
Alston printed maps that, once placed together and taped to the floor, were 20 ft. x 20 ft. and 30 ft. x 40 ft. The maps were printed in 5 ft. x 20 ft. or 5 ft. x 40 ft. strips, depending on the final size of the display. Alston printed them with a two-inch overlap, aligned the panels, and then marked and trimmed them for shipping.
“I was able to match up farm houses at one end, and railroad tracks at the other to make sure they lined up. It was an interesting exercise,” says Alston. “The hardest part was getting and prepping the files, because each file was over a gigabyte. Then you had to RIP those files to their final 20x20 and 30x40 sizes.”
Alston printed the maps on LexJet Matte Banner (13 oz.) with an HP UV-curable printer. “My account specialist at LexJet, Jaimie Perez, has bailed me out more than once. On this particular job, the Major in charge of the project walked in and said we needed to make this happen right away, so I called Jaimie and she got five rolls to me the next day. As soon as they hit the door, I took them out of the tubes, loaded and printed them. I couldn’t have done this without Jaimie’s help,” says Alston.
“This was an important project, and if this helps everyone who plans logistics for emergency situations, I’ll do everything I can to help them. It’s great to know that they’re planning like this, because it helps keep the citizens safe in case a disaster of some sort actually happens,” adds Alston.