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WISER (Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders) is a system designed to assist emergency responders in hazardous material incidents. Developed by the National Library of Medicine, WISER provides a wide range of information on hazardous substances, including substance identification support, physical characteristics, human health information, and containment and suppression guidance.

WISER is available as a standalone application on Microsoft Windows PCs, Apple's iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch), and Google Android devices. Download it for free!

WebWISER is also available! When an Internet connection is available, access the same WISER functionality with your web browser. Support for mobile device browsers is included.


  • Rapid access to the most important information about a hazardous substance
  • Intuitive, simple, logical user interface developed by working with experienced first responders
  • Comprehensive decision support, including assistance in identification of an unknown chemical or chemical syndrome and guidance on the immediate actions necessary to save lives and protect the environment
  • GIS support provides for isolation/protective distance overlays on a map of the incident
  • Access to NLM's PubChem and Chemical Hazards Medical Management (CHEMM) content, which contains a wealth of detailed, peer-reviewed information on hazardous substances
  • User Profiles enable users to specify the role they are currently playing at the scene of an incident: first responder, HAZMAT specialist, EMS specialist, hospital provider, or preparedness planner. The application interface is customized so that so that the information most relevant to the respective job can be quickly accessed.
  • Tools and reference materials, including triage tools, radiological incident support, WMD response guidelines, and an electronic version of the ERG 2012
  • Mobile support, providing first responders critical information where they need it, when they need it

WISER System Concept

The WISER system concept is designed to work in a standalone or connected mode. The end user device is preloaded with the most critical information. At the scene, a wireless network can be leveraged for protective distance mapping and external information (e.g. external reference links). If a wireless connection is not available, the device still has full functionality with access to the critical local data available on the device.

The current standalone versions are an important step in the development of the WISER system concept. To get the information in the hands of the emergency responder as quickly as possible, we have developed the standalone capability first. We first targeted the Palm OS operating system, then evolved to Windows Mobile platforms, Windows PCs, the web (WebWISER), Blackberry's, and, more recently, iOS and Android devices.

Substance ID Support

A key feature of WISER is the support for identifying an unknown substance. WISER can help a emergency responder identify and validate the unknown substance based on the following:

  • sign/symptoms of victims of exposure
  • physical properties of the substance gathered by observation or sensors
  • hazard values from NFPA 704 placards
  • the ability to categorize a substance, such as a substance used in a meth lab, a flammable substance, etc.
  • transportation identification, including DOT placards, type of road trailer, and type of rail car

User Profiles and Key Info

WISER allows the user to specify the role they currently perform at the scene, customizing its home page and substance display to bring relevant information to the user's fingertips.

Radiological Support

As of version 3.0, WISER now provides radiological support. This consists of a substance list and substance data for 21 radioisotopes, and general tools and reference materials targeted to on-the-scene support of radiological events.

Biological Support

As of version 4.0, WISER now provides biological support. This consists of a substance list and substance data for the six Category A biological agents, and general tools and reference materials including the guide pages from the WMD Response Guidebook.

Emergency Response Guidebook

WISER now provides general tools and reference materials, including a comprehensive, fully searchable, electronic version of the ERG 2020.

Operational Version

The current operational version of WISER provides a highly functional solution with information and substance identification capabilities on over 500 substances. It operates in a stand-alone mode on Microsoft® Windows® PCs, Apple iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch), and Google Android devices. WISER is also available in PC and mobile device based Internet browsers (WebWISER). Future versions will provide wireless connectivity, support for additional portable devices, and more (see the news page for more information).

Substance List

The WISER substance list is based on many other lists (ATSDR, DOT NIOSH, etc.), inputs from emergency responders, toxicologists, and medical personnel, and analysis of how likely a substance is to occur in an incident and how hazardous it is.

Q: What is the National Library of Medicine?

A: The National Library of Medicine (NLM), on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, is the world's largest medical library. The Library collects materials and provides information and research services in all areas of biomedicine and health care. Click here to go to the NLM home page.

Q: What is WISER?

A: WISER stands for the Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders. It is a system designed to assist emergency responders in hazardous material incidents. It provides a wide range of information on hazardous substances, including substance identification support, physical characteristics, human health information, and containment and suppression advice.

Q: Why did NLM create WISER?

A: Part of the mission of NLM is to ensure that information makes its way into the hands of people who need it. NLM maintains toxicology and environmental health resources. In reviewing potential users that could use this information but may not have been using it to its fullest extent, emergency responders to chemical, radiological, and biological incidents were identified. While websites such as PubChem are excellent resources, they are not accessible on the scene. The solution was to provide decision support for these users that would fit in on a handheld device or portable computer.

Q: Where does WISER data come from?

A: Most of WISER's core data comes from PubChem, an open chemistry database at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). PubChem contains information on human exposure, industrial hygiene, emergency handling procedures, environmental fate, regulatory requirements, and related areas. All data is referenced and derived from a core set of books, government documents, technical reports and selected primary journal literature. Many of the sources of data are used by emergency responders already and include:

  • DOT Emergency Response Guidebook
  • U.S. Coast Guard, CHRIS Manual - Chemical Hazards Response Information System
  • NFPA Fire Protection Guide to Hazardous Materials
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards
  • EPA Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS)
  • POISINDEX(R) Information System, Micromedex, Inc., CCIS
  • TOMES(R) Information System, Micromedex, Inc., CCIS
  • ACGIH Guidelines for Selection of Chemical Protective Clothing
  • American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists TLVs & BEIs
  • Association of American Railroads, Emergency Handling of Hazardous Materials in Surface Transportation
  • NOAA Chemical Reactivity Worksheet (CRW)

Acute care guideline and related reference material comes from CHEMM, a comprehensive, user-friendly, web-based resource focused on enabling first responders, first receivers, other healthcare providers, and planners to plan for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of mass-casualty incidents involving chemicals.

Q: What substances are included? How did you decide on those substances?

A: View the WISER substance list.

WISER has over 460 core substances, with a substance list that contains over 4700 names when including aliases (synonyms of the core substances). This number of core substances represents a balance between having a wide array of substances and limited memory space on a handheld device. Substances were chosen by reviewing each substance in terms of how hazardous it is, its likelihood to be in an incident, and inputs from emergency responders, toxicologists, and medical personnel.

Q: Why don't you have substance X in WISER?

A: If you have a particular substance that you would like to see included in WISER, please let us know. An important substance may not have been included because of oversight, limited device memory, or because it was not in PubChem, our underlying source. However, if a substance is of important to you, we will make every effort to include it in the next update of the data set. We are especially interested in including substances that are used in training and simulations, so please let us know about them.

Q: How do I get WISER?

A: For Windows, iOS, and Android, WISER is available only through download from the Internet. Please go to the Download page. If you are unable to download and would like a CD, please see this topic on our technical support page for details on obtaining one.

A web-based version of WISER, WebWISER, is also available, and will work with most web browsers, including those on many mobile devices.

Q: What does WISER cost?

A: WISER is a free government resource. Like all of the National Library of Medicine resources, WISER is available for use by everyone with access to the Internet.

Q: Why do you ask me to sign up for the e-mail list?

A: The WISER e-mail list (the NLM-WISER-L "listserv") is used to inform you of important updates to WISER, including platform and feature additions.

While information in WISER is derived from the peer-review Hazardous Substances Data Bank, and we have conducted a verification process, updates to substance data may be made as more research is conducted. We would like to be able to inform you of important changes in the data; some of those changes may be critical for the safe use of the information. If you choose not to join the list, you can still download and use WISER, but you will not receive notification of updates.

Please know that we will not release your e-mail address for any other purpose and we assure you that any e-mail we send will be infrequent and concise.

Q: How do I give you feedback?

A: Please use the Contact Us option.

We are providing WISER because we want to support and assist the emergency responder community with useful information. We would like to make WISER as helpful, intuitive, and powerful as possible. We welcome your comments about how to improve WISER, any issues you have with it, and any technical problems in installing or using it. If you have a technical problem, we would like to know the specifics of the platform you are running it on, and exactly what happened.

Q: What do I need to run WISER?

A: You need one of the following:

  • Microsoft® Windows® based PC (XP or later) with 50 megabytes of hard disk space and the Microsoft® .NET Framework 4.6.1 (if your computer does not have .NET, the installer will aid in downloading and installing it)
  • Apple iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 9.3 or higher with 100 megabytes of storage space
  • Google Android device running version 6.0 (Marshmallow) or later of the Android OS with 100 megabytes of storage space
  • WebWISER requires only an Internet connection and an Internet browser. The latest version of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or Safari is recommended.

Click here for more comprehensive details on the system requirements and installation instructions for WISER for Windows.

Q: How do I get answers to technical questions?

A: Please see the README file (if provided) that is included with your installation of WISER (and is also accessible on the respective download page), or see our Technical Support page. If you still have a question then please contact us.