Praise App that Finds Tornado Victims


Target: Firefighter Shonn Neidel

Goal: Praise creation of app that finds victims in tornado rubble

Despite having the addresses of those in tornado shelters and homes, rescuers often have a hard time finding their victims. Due to tornadoes having the power to level an entire neighborhood, signs and other buildings are wiped away. It leaves firefighters struggling to help those in need. However a new app will help rescuers find their victims more efficiently, and distribute supplies to those who need it the most.

In May 2013, firefighters responded to distressed victims who were stuck under rubble. The problem was that victims would tell dispatches their addresses, but rescuers weren’t able to locate them because landmarks were swept away. To rescuers, the place looked like a giant landfill and it took them three days to dig everyone out of the rubble. Firefighter Shonn Neidel immediately saw a problem to this rescue operation and wanted to fix it with a revolutionary new app.

Teaming up with his computer programmer brother-in-law, they built an app that helped rescuers find those trapped in rubble. The app looks like a giant map filled with red dots that coincide with the location of residents and shelters. And since GPS can be unreliable, the app instead has coordinates used by inspectors. It also draws upon shelter information, like how many people would be inside and what supplies would be needed. It even details what would be above the shelter, informing firefighters if they need to dig down.

The app can streamline the process of finding victims in rubble, and firefighters in other areas have become very interested in this idea. A life saving app such as this one needs to be praised and applauded.


Dear Shonn Neidel,

I am writing to praise you for the creation of an app that allows rescuers to find tornado victims in a fast and efficient manner. It is extremely difficult to find those that are trapped in rubble, especially when the search area has little to no landmarks for fighters to work with. This app is life-saving and ingenious.

You should be praised for your efforts. I am extremely glad that firefighters in other tornado-prone communities want to use this app for themselves. I hope it will help streamline the process of finding victims and save more lives.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Justin Hobson via Wikimedia Commons

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