26 Sep Healthcare needs of hurricane-hit region being monitored by West Allis company's system
West Allis, Wis. — A Web-based system known as the Critical Infrastructure Data System (CIDS), developed by EMSystem of West Allis is being used to monitor healthcare critical needs and operational issues in the multi-state region that continues to be affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Following the onset of Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) engaged EMSystem to provide real-time information regarding healthcare facilities to respond to evacuees across the country in need of medical and mental health care, services that EMSystem donated.
“We were probably the only company in a position to provide these services,” said Andy Nunemaker, company CEO.” “We thought it was the right thing to do, to donate our services, rather than take advantage of the situation in which there are so many victims.”
As Hurricane Rita approached, the system was extended to encompass areas hit by that storm.
EMSystem has been monitoring information from hospitals, community health centers, mental health and substance abuse facilities, federal medical shelters and a number of other facilities in the region. Information on facility status, critical needs and available resources has been monitored and reported daily. Surveillance information has been collected in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control from numerous facilities, providing trending information on possible outbreaks for early detection.
Information from CIDS has been used in daily briefings to Secretary of HHS Mike Leavitt and, on several occasions, to the White House. Information is also passed back to state and local authorities where resources can be deployed accordingly.
“EMSystem is being used as the communication tool regarding all issues related to the Katrina Disaster,” said Eric Epley, executive director of the South East Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council.
EMSystem collaborated with several entities in the development of CIDS.
RTI International, a research and design institute based in North Carolina, donated geographic information system services for mapping all data. The American Hospital Association, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Health Resources and Services Administration all played critical roles in supportingthe project and encouraging their member facilities to participate.
“The Critical Infrastructure Data System developed for HHS by EMSystem in a matter days after the hurricane has allowed us to access vital critical infrastructure status in the affected states and envision a system that makes us better prepared for future incidents,” said Captain Roberta Proffitt Lavin of the U.S. Public Health Service, Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness.
The National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) was activated during the relief effort, and many states used EMSystem to comply with NDMS requests including Arkansas, Arizona, Missouri, Virginia and Kentucky.
EMSystem provides of real-time communications and resource management solutions that enhance preparedness and response to medical emergencies, mass casualty events, and public health incidents. The company provides emergency department status tracking, patient tracking, mass casualty incident support, syndromic surveillance, hospital bed tracking, credentialing and public health alerting solutions.