Contact: Stephanie Haak
Milwaukee ’s EMSystem brings officials together to talk about disaster preparedness and information sharing
MILWAUKEE – Recent events ranging from hurricanes and public health threats to terrorist plots have focused emergency planners and medical officials on the need to rapidly exchange information.
More than 60 attendees at an EMSystem software user group meeting here this week are discussing their experiences handling recent crises and talking about the need for additional communication tools to improve emergency preparedness. EMSystem develops and markets software that helps hospitals, emergency planners and government agencies track and share information about the availability of hospital beds, critical care and isolation facilities, patient data and medical credentials.
Andy Nunemaker, CEO of EMSystem, said ongoing discussions at the three-day conference all point to a growing need for rapid information sharing and regional cooperation among multiple agencies.
“Much of what we’re doing is based on the experiences of people working on the front lines in these disaster situations,” Nunemaker said. “For example, we heard from officials in Texas about the challenges they faced in tracking and providing for the needs of some 200,000 Katrina evacuees in a very short period of time.”
EMSystem software allows for rapid intake of people in mass casualty situations using bar code technology, scanners and database tools. Beyond improving patient tracking, Nunemaker said recent disasters have demonstrated the need for emergency management officials to be able to verify the medical credentials of volunteers who arrive on the scene to help. Such information is essential to ensure resources are deployed to the best advantage and appropriate care is provided.
The software user group event, which ends Friday, included a keynote address by Lynn Steele, director of the Division of Emergency Preparedness and Response with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Steele discussed the need for national reporting standards to ensure that information is captured in a standardized format that is quickly and easily accessible to decision makers in multiple agencies and locations.
A presentation by officials from Oklahoma exemplified the rigor some communities are applying to disaster planning. There, daily inquiries about hospital patient loads and emergency medical availability are shared on a regional basis.
“Across the country, we’re seeing more communities investing in large scale disaster planning and carrying out drills that test the functionality of the systems,” Nunemaker said. “EMSystem supports these efforts, which we believe are an important step forward for national security and public health.”
Founded in 1998, EMSystem of Milwaukee hosts the annual user group conference with the intent of learning more about needs that may arise during major medical emergencies, natural disasters and public health incidents. With 20 employees, the business currently supports emergency medical operations that provide service to more than one-third of the United States population. For more information, visit http://www.emsystem.com.