Students attending healthcare training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) will soon have automated capabilities to track patients during mass casualty exercises. Patient tracking, oftentimes automated, is used in a variety of healthcare facilities throughout the United States and is a key component to incident response and management.

“We’re incorporating software that can be used on a majority of smart devices found on the commercial market today,” Jesse Giddens, CDP Healthcare Training Manager. “These devices allow students to input and record emergency casualty care data into an automated patient tracking system. The system facilitates rapid identification of patients as they move through the continuum of care, from the point of injury, through EMS disaster response teams, to the receiving hospital’s treatment areas. And, as appropriate, follow-on discharge, transfer to specialty hospitals, trauma centers, alternate care sites, shelters and mortuary facilities. The system also provides situational awareness for health-sector providers, emergency managers and decision makers in the allocation of critical resources during a mass casualty response,” Giddens explained.

The software includes the ability to scan barcodes on triage tags, linking patients directly to a specific number, ensuring that the patient is properly identified, especially when it comes to giving him or her medications. Additionally, photographs and pertinent information such as a patient’s name, age, gender, symptoms, associated injuries and treatment provided can also be recorded in the system. The software also allows students to securely transmit patient information to the incident command, hospital command center and public health office, providing a common operating picture of the mass casualty incident, facilitating the community’s integrated response. The data transmission can be used in conjunction with popular web-based programs found in a majority of first responder command and control elements. Data collection is vital throughout a mass casualty response, as it enables hospital leadership to maintain situational awareness, determine the number of patient admissions and hospital occupancy levels.

“CDP provides students with realistic training and exercise experiences appropriate to real-world events, using applicable tools and technologies available in the first responder community. The tools used during training and exercises increase realism and demonstrate the current technological capabilities, capacities and advances available to responders,” said Giddens. “CDP healthcare training is very popular and introduces modern technology which improves interdisciplinary facets of healthcare emergency management.”

Healthcare training at the CDP takes place at the Noble Training Facility (NTF). The NTF is the only hospital in the nation solely dedicated to preparing the healthcare, public health, and environmental health communities for mass casualty response to a catastrophic natural or man-made disaster.

The CDP expects to fully incorporate the patient tracking technology into training over the next six months. The technology will be used in the majority of the healthcare courses. The full capability and efficiency of the devices will be implemented incrementally during each of the upcoming Integrated Capstone Events (ICE). The ICE promotes an interdisciplinary response to a mass casualty incident, where first responders and receivers are challenged to manage multiple facets of the operation and – with the newly added technology – will manage patient tracking, transport and care.

The CDP builds realistic exercise scenarios into its courses. The NTF provides the perfect setting to exercise a patient surge in an emergency department and the activation of a hospital’s command center. The scenarios include role players with simulated serious injuries. Each scenario focuses on the foundations of CDP training—incident management, mass casualty response and emergency response to an all-hazards incident.

“Emergency responders, regardless of their profession—healthcare, fire, law enforcement – have a variety of new or modern tools and equipment,” said Mick Castillo, 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.”

Students receive continuing education units (CEUs) for CDP training through the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET). Physicians and nurses may earn 32 educational units, depending on the course they take. The healthcare courses involve a variety of agencies that may take part in a mass casualty event in a real-world incident.

The CDP plays a leading role in preparing state, local and tribal responders to prepare for and respond to manmade events or major accidents involving mass casualties. CDP training is fully funded for tribal, state, and local response personnel. Round-trip air and ground transportation, lodging, and meals are provided at no cost to responders or their agency or jurisdiction. Federal personnel may also attend the numerous training programs offered at CDP. To learn more about the Center for Domestic Preparedness, visit http://cdp.dhs.gov or call 866-213-9553 or to learn more about the VHA visit http://www.va.gov. You can also visit the CDP on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.