Archive for the ‘Emergency Preparedness and Response’ Category
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has released a free, mobile web app of its Emergency Response Guidebook 2012 (ERG). The new safety tool will provide the nation’s emergency responders with fast, easily accessible information to help them manage hazardous material incidents. The mobile ERG will make it easier for firefighters, police and other emergency first responders to quickly locate the information they need, thanks to an electronic word search function, and will ensure easy reading even during nighttime emergencies. The 2012 version of the ERG includes new evacuation tables for large toxic gas spills and standard response procedures for gas and liquid pipeline incidents.
PHMSA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Library of Medicine (NLM) joined forces in producing the two free ERG mobile applications. Links to download this software are available from the Apple iTunes website at ERG 2012 for iPhone and from the Google Play website at ERG 2012 for Android. In addition, a version of the ERG is available in NLM’s Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders (WISER) application. An instructional video for learning how to use the ERG 2012 is also available on PHMSA’s website.
The National Library of Medicine’s WISER for iOS 3.1, a universal app for Apple iOS devices, is now available. It can be downloaded and installed directly from the Apple App Store. Here’s a look at what’s new in this release:
- WISER now fully integrates content from the Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management (CHEMM) website. This integration includes:
- New hospital provider and preparedness planner profiles
- Acute care guidelines for 6 known mass casualty agents/agent classes
- The addition of a wealth of CHEMM reference material
- The new CHEMM Intelligent Syndrome Tool (CHEMM-IST), a help identify tool designed to diagnose the type of chemical exposure after a mass casualty incident
- Emergency Response Guidebook data is now updated to the ERG 2012; WISER for the iPhone includes a custom ERG 2012 tool
In addition, look for these exciting developments in the coming months:
- WISER for Android 1.1, which includes the same CHEMM integration and ERG 2012 updates detailed above
- Updates to the Windows and WebWISER platforms to include CHEMM integration, ERG 2012 data, and more
- WISER for Android 3.1, which adds Help Identify Chemical and protective distance mapping to this popular platform
WISER is a system designed to assist first 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.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC) has just announced release of the Disaster Response Template Toolkit, a new installment in the Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series. It contains a comprehensive collection of online resources and materials, as well as editable templates that can be easily tailored to meet the needs of any disaster response program.
The Printed Materials section contains customizable public education materials for use by disaster behavioral health response programs to provide outreach, psycho-education, and recovery news for disaster survivors. These materials, geared toward the general public, provide information about common disaster reactions and ways to cope. The Messaging through Other Media section contains tips for writing television, radio, and newspaper public service announcements (PSAs), as well as samples of print and radio PSAs. There are also links and examples of disaster response program websites, social networking pages, and blogs.
Within each section of this toolkit, “do it yourself” templates are provided in various formats, with space provided for each program to incorporate its own logo or contact information. You will find templates for the following products:
- Brochures for adults, older adults, or children, about common disaster responses and ways of coping;
- Door hangers with common signs of disaster stress, ways to reduce stress, and common reactions to trigger events, such as the holidays;
- Editable tip sheets with information on managing stress, coping with disaster anniversaries, and helping children cope with the disaster;
- Newsletters, wallet cards, and postcards, with broad messaging and room to add your program’s contact information.
It is hoped that the Disaster Response Template Toolkit will be a helpful resource for the disaster response programs in your institution!
In December, 2012, NLM’s Division of Specialized Information Services (SIS) released a major update for the Radiation Emergency Medical Management (REMM) tool. REMM provides guidance for health care providers about the clinical diagnosis and treatment of radiation injury during radiological or nuclear emergencies. It is web-based, but also downloadable to your Windows or Mac, and key information is also available on the mobile apps for Android, iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad & BlackBerry. Key changes are noted below. Many more updates and changes appear throughout REMM. You are strongly encouraged to update any versions of REMM you have previously downloaded to your computer, USB drive, or mobile device.
- Creation of REMM Multimedia Library
- Display of REMM multimedia items in carousel format
- Items accessible by content category
- New videos, illustrations, pictures, tables
- REMM YouTube channel: 4 new videos uploaded
- Improved REMM bibliography
- New table of contents improves access to listings
- Many new references and topics
- Updated Prototype for Medical Orders
- Now includes Pediatric information
- Updated information in many sections, including use of anti-microbial drugs
- New sections for “Other Audiences”
- Updates to key pages
- Print output from Dose Estimator for Lymphocyte Depletion Kinetics and Time to Onset of Vomiting
- Improved right navigation panel for accessing key items
New Features on Mobile REMM
- Interactive tool for radiation unit conversions, e.g. curie to becquerel, rad to gray
- Updates to Emergency Contacts
The usage of “digital volunteers” during disasters is growing in popularity, allowing volunteers with computer and information skills to participate from outside the affected region in supporting disaster response and recovery. One example of this effort is CrisisCamps, which bring together volunteers in information management, and web design and coding, to work on projects identified by federal and state agencies in response to specific events. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, there are CrisisCamps occurring in various locations, including San Francisco. Find out if your area is hosting a CrisisCamp and how to volunteer! Virtual Operations Support Groups, also known as Virtual Operations Support Teams (VOST), are groups that make use of technology and social media tools to provide support to those at the scene of a disaster. VOSTs are activated to perform specific functions in support of affected organizations and jurisdictions. The web site includes a list of active teams in the US. The Standby Task Force is an international digital volunteer platform that uses an open source model for digital volunteering, with a specific focus on crisis mapping. The Red Cross Disaster Digital Volunteer training program includes the use of Radian6 Engagement Console software, and other necessary online platforms to monitor social media and news sources, in order to assist the Red Cross in its response efforts.
The National Library of Medicine is developing and testing several new technologies which may help transform the way hospitals keep track of patients during emergencies. The People Locator and the Patient Tracking and Locating System are research projects being conducted as part of the public-private Bethesda Hospitals’ Emergency Preparedness Partnership (BHEPP). The People Locator, which is part of the Lost Person Finder, is an online “lost and found” Web site, that can include a person’s name, gender, age, health condition, and any available photo, to assist family members, emergency officials, and others during a disaster search. The Patient Tracking and Locating System, produced by NLM’s Office of Computer and Communications Systems (OCCS), consists of a commercial digital pen that captures patient information via a tiny camera, and tracking of disaster patients and equipment with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags in a real-time location system (RTLS). This system would allow broadcasting of patient location and condition to care providers at a central location, and a software application devised by the OCCS could be used to transfer patient records electronically between hospitals.
The BHEPP formed in 2004, to develop a coordinated disaster response model for hospitals across the country. BHEPP partners include the NLM and three nearby hospitals; the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and Suburban Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine, a non-profit community-based hospital in Bethesda, MD. In addition, NLM’s Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC) also has projects under development, including the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS), a back-up communications system for hospital emergency operations centers, and the Hospital Incident Command Center, a responder training research project that uses “virtual world” technologies. Further details about these projects are available in the NLM in Focus newsletter.
In November, 2010, the federal Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) convened the Southeast Regional HIT-HIE Collaboration (SERCH) project on Health Information Exchange in Disaster Preparedness and Response. The consortium included representatives from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas, with the goal of developing a strategic plan for sharing health information data among the Southeast and Gulf States during and following a declared natural disaster. The consortium members carefully assessed the challenges of accessing medical records and coordinating health care information for patient populations displaced due to a disaster. To date, there has been limited research on how HIE could be leveraged to provide timely access to clinical information in response to a disaster. The best way to ensure that health information can be accessed during an emergency is to ensure that it can be accessed during routine care. As connectivity through HIE expands, opportunities to link exchange efforts with emergency preparedness and response to provide health information to providers and patients in response to a disaster will increase.
The final report from the project, released in July, 2012, includes an actionable plan for incorporating health information exchange into disaster preparedness efforts. The phased approached suggested by SERCH supports immediate progress in the absence of routine, widespread health information exchange. It also addresses key legal, technical, and governance issues and offers a list of steps that states can take to align their health information exchange planning activities with ongoing emergency preparedness activities. The report includes five recommendations, which offer a path forward for states wishing to integrate disaster planning and health information exchange efforts, to help ensure that when a disaster strikes, patients and providers will have better access to information, and providers will be better able to provide appropriate care.
On September 14, 2012, the publication Government Health IT reported that HHS officials announced the release of MappyHealth, a new Web-based application tool available to public health officials. MappyHealth was the winning entry in a developers’ challenge competition, “Now Trending: #Health in My Community.” The challenge was sponsored by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). Health officials can use data gained through the app to complement other health surveillance systems, to identify emerging health issues and potential public health emergencies in a community.
Currently, the top diseases being tracked by MappyHealth are the common cold, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), mosquito borne disease, pertussis, tuberculosis, influenza and gastroenteritis. The top five locations for these disease-tracking tweets are São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Orlando, Chicago and Los Angeles. The availability of MappyHealth provides a mechanism for local public health departments to effectively utilize social media to monitor disease trends as they occur in real time.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the National Center for Telehealth and Technology are excited to announce a new application, called PFA Mobile, now available in the iTunes App Store. The app is intended for disaster responders who are trained in Psychological First Aid (PFA).
PFA Mobile includes:
- Summaries of PFA fundamentals
- PFA interventions matched to specific concerns and needs of survivors
- Mentor tips for applying PFA in the field
- A self-assessment tool for readiness to conduct PFA
- A survivor’s needs form for simplified data collection and easy referral
The app is free and will work on any mobile Apple device (iPod touch, iPhone, iPad). Please download and feel free to send any feedback or suggestions for future versions. An Android version may be available in the coming year. Anyone needing technical assistance or additional resources may contact Dr. Melissa Brymer.
A new disaster topic page on Droughts and Health has been compiled by the National Library of Medicine’s Disaster Information Management Research Center. The page focuses primarily on human health effects of drought conditions as experienced in the United States. It is intended to grow as new materials become available on this topic. Health effects in the United States have historically included (or are speculated to include):
- Changes to water quality, especially private wells, with potential for increased waterborne disease
- Changes to air quality, including increased dust and particulates, with potential for increased respiratory distress
- Poorer personal hygiene due to decreased water availability
- Food crop or food processing contamination from use of recycled water
- Increased suicide rate (higher than national average) among farm families affected by drought-related economic concerns