App helps emergency crews ID toxic chemicals

Medical personnel dealing with cases of possible exposure to hazardous chemicals could have an easier time deciding on a course of treatment thanks to a new online tool from the National Library of Medicine, News Medical reports.

The Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management Intelligent Syndromes Tool is "a prototype decision support tool developed by experts in medicine and emergency response as an aid for identifying the chemical a patient was exposed to in a mass casualty incident," according to the CHEMM-IST website at the National Institutes of Health.

It would allow first responders to answer a series of questions about patients' symptoms in order to narrow down which chemicals they may have been exposed to. Based on this information, the tool would offer recommendations for initial treatments and give first responders tips on how they might avoid exposure to the chemicals.

According to the NIH site, CHEMM-IST is still in the prototype phase of development and should not yet be used for patient care. NIH says that once the tool is validated for use, it will be used in cases of severe exposure to chemicals.

Dr. Mark Kirk, who led the CHEMM-IST development team, said the tool could save victims' lives in the critical early minutes after exposure. "CHEMM-IST helps you fill that knowledge gap until you know exactly what you're dealing with," he added.

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