Mobile patient data for emergency response

FEMA adds patient tracker apps to ER toolkit

The Federal Emergency Management Agency over the next six months will incorporate automated patient tracking software into the training it now offers emergency first responders at its Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP).

Patient tracking systems compatible with mobile devices are increasingly being used in healthcare facilities throughout the United States as a key component to incident response and management, according to FEMA officials.

“We’re incorporating software that can be used on a majority of smart devices found on the commercial market today,” said Jesse Giddens, CDP’s healthcare training manager. “These devices allow students to input and record emergency casualty care data into an automated patient tracking system.

The mobile tracking systems enable rapid identification of patients as they move from a point of injury, through the stages of a disaster response, to a hospital’s treatment area.

The systems help emergency case managers improve situational awareness in the allocation of critical resources during a mass casualty response, according to Giddens.

The software is designed to scan barcodes on triage tags, linking a patient directly to a specific number and ensuring the patient is properly identified, especially in the event medications need to be dispensed. Photographs and other case relevant information including a patient’s name, age, gender, symptoms, injuries and treatment provided can also be recorded.

These data transmission can also used with common web-based programs found in a majority of first responder command and control applications, according to CDP.

The technology will be used in the majority of its healthcare courses, CDP said, including the upcoming Integrated Capstone Events, a series of training exercises where first responders are tested in multiple facets of a response operation through a series of realistic hazardous scenarios.

Each scenario focuses on the foundations of CDP training – incident management, mass casualty response and emergency response and now patient tracking.

“Emergency responders, regardless of their profession – healthcare, fire, law enforcement –  have a variety of new or modern tools and equipment,” said Mick Castillo, the technology integration coordinator at the CDP.

“Patient tracking is one of those technologies that allows the healthcare community and other responders to manage mass casualty incidents in a comprehensive way, providing situational awareness, coordination of supporting agencies and accountability of patients and resources in an integrated response,” he said. 

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