Hospital Implements High-Tech Emergency Response System

Location-based mapping system helps public safety officials, hospitals, and emergency responders more quickly and efficiently get aid to people in trouble.
Loma Linda University Medical Center has the second-largest bay station in the county, said Corbett. The use of the system is being expanded in to neighboring counties, including Los Angeles County and Santa Clara County. San Bernardino is "enormous but sparsely populated, GIS helps us determine what's the nearest facility based on a patient's needs," say Corbett.

In the next phase of development, scheduled to roll out in August, the additional AEGIS functionality will enable the system's use by all regional public safety organizations for disaster management, said Ed Carubis, principal consultant and senior program manager of ESRI professional services.

"The real-time situational awareness applications [of AEGIS] accomplish their mission through multiple location services," said Carubis, who, before joining ESRI, was a CIO for the New York City Department of Health and was involved in the post-9/11 development of a bio-surveillance system to collaborate with hospitals, emergency workers, and the Centers for Disease Control to monitor the outbreak of disease.

"It doesn’t take much for a large casualty event to bring hospitals to capacity, hospitals don't have a lot of extra beds," Carubis said. "There needs to be a regional approach for response of care in wider areas to make those decisions," he said. "As horrific as 9/11 was, it had a small footprint" compared to the sort of havoc that occurs in other disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, which covered a multistate region, he said.

AEGIS uses location-based technologies, including automatic vehicle location, which is a set of capabilities consisting of GPS mounted on vehicles like ambulances, fire trucks, police cars, and helicopters, said Anak Agung, ESRI senior consultant. The vehicles transmit their data through "wired or wireless, cell phone network, direct satellite communication, Wi-Fi, and a Web service that processes the location data transmitted by vehicles, and serves the locational data to other users," including ArcGIS Mobile users, he said.

ArcGIS Mobile, a part of ESRI's ArcGIS server, is the GIS technology that enables mobile users working on laptop, tablet PC, PDA, and mobile phone to be connected with enterprise GIS, said Agung. "It allows users to synchronize data they input from the fields and share data from other users at nearly real time," he said. It also allows mobile users "to run sophisticated analysis provided by a server using the field data input," he said.

"For example, based on the current location of a mobile user, one can ask the server to analyze drive time and to report back from the server the multi-rings polygon indicating drive times, and find out other mobile users within each polygon," he said.

This information helps emergency response managers and public safety officials make better informed decisions, such as choosing the routes and destinations for helping critically injured patients and other victims of an emergency or disaster. Input from users in the field will also allow emergency responders, for instance, to alert other responders en-route in a disaster that there are fallen trees or debris blocking a road leading to a crisis area.

When not being used to manage real emergencies, AEGIS can also provide simulation training, not only for new users, but also as a cost-effective means for hospitals and regions to participate in disaster preparedness, Carubis said.

The system is also built to help emergency response and public safety officials handle more routine situations. "You don't want a system only for mass casualties, you want to use it on a day-to-day basis," which also helps prepares responders when a large crisis does occur. "You want this to be second nature," Carubis said.