Select Page

Creating Emergency Response Maps For your Community

Step 1: Identify the Mapping Team

You will need at least one individual who is willing to spearhead the mapping & take on the responsibility of collecting and displaying the data that you collect. Depending on your level of experience with map making and the resources you have available, creating these maps may take anywhere from a couple of hours to many weeks.

Step 2: Create your Basemap

MCFSC has created resources to help guide the development of your base map. Experienced GIS users should download ‘ER Map Creator Instructions for Experienced GIS User‘ for a high level guide to data sources & required analysis. If you are new to GIS, ‘Creator Instructions for New ArcGIS Users‘ provides a step-by-step guide to creating communtiy maps in ArcGIS Online.

Once your map is complete, a geolocated pdf should be provided to volunteers to facilitate on-the-ground data collection.

Step 3: Train Volunteers to Document Important Features

Volunteers are an esential element to producing acurate and useful Emergency Response Maps. Local community members will make sure existing data is accurate and will provide aditional map features addressing specific fire fighter needs.

Training volunteers to use digital mapping software such as Avenza or Field Maps will make the process of adding volunteer input to existing basemaps much more efficent.

Download ‘Volunteer Training‘ & ‘Intro to Avenza maps for Volunteers‘ for training resources.


Step 4: Update maps

Once volunteers have returned the data they collected on the ground, its up to the mapping teams to integrate it into the existing basemap. MCFSC strongly recomends that voluteers collect data using a digital map if possible to facilitate this process.

See ‘ER Mapping for New GIS Users’ if instructions are needed to input new data onto the existing basemap.

Step 5: Publish & Store Somewhere Accessible to Emergency Responders

Congratuations! The hardwork is done but your community Emergency Response Map will be no use if they don’t get into the right hands during an emergency. MCFSC recomends publishing your maps in both hard and digital copies and making them available in a number of different places.

1. Local Fire Department

2. Community Lock Box (Knox Box or similar)

3. MCFSC Website


Tip: Include a QR code on the published version of your map so First Responders can easily download maps onto their phones or smart devices.

Click here to view examples

This project was funded by the Community Foundation of Mendocino County.