RIT Develops EMS Online Directory; Co-hosts Emergency Responders Workshop May 9
Workshop will examine ways to expand directory and improve access to emergency information
May 3, 2007
by Kelly Downs
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Every second matters when firefighters, emergency medical personnel, and police officers are called to the scene of an emergency. In an effort to ensure they have the most comprehensive, up-to-date information for area hospitals, doctors and ambulance bases, Rochester Institute of Technology has developed the Emergency Medical Services Online Directory.
STEP (Society for Total Emergency Programs) Council of the Genesee Region, which produces an annual reference book, sought the technical expertise of RIT’s software engineering students in developing the online database. RIT’s Center for Advancing the Study of Cyberinfrastructure will host the directory and spearhead future development and research initiatives.
To encourage more counties throughout New York state to be part of the Directory, STEP and RIT will co-host the conference “From Home To Hospital” on Wednesday, May 9, from 8 a.m. to noon in Room 2210 of RIT’s Louise Slaughter Building. The invitation only workshop will look at the needs of counties and examine ways to improve emergency access information.
The EMS Online Directory, www.emsdirectory.org, is currently utilized by emergency medical services in Monroe and Livingston counties. The information is also available to the public. Starting next month, Monroe Ambulance’s EMTs and paramedics will be able to access the director from the field using wireless technology.
“Oftentimes, patients may not know the hospital affiliation of their physician,” says Mindi Meath, director of training of Monroe Ambulance. “The on-line directory enables field EMS providers to save time during non-life threatening situations and accurately transport patients to the facility their personal physician is affiliated with.”
In addition to EMS providers, the directory is also a lifesaving resource for the public. The directory includes valuable contact information for numerous ancillary organizations at the local, state and national levels, such as The American Red Cross, Alternatives for Battered Women, Lifespan and the Centers for Disease Control.
The keynote speaker for the May 9 workshop will be Dr. Donald A. Henderson, a 1954 graduate of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and currently distinguished scholar at the Center for Biosecurity and professor of Public Health and Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. From 2001 through 2003, Henderson served as director of the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness as well as principal science advisor under former U.S. Director of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson. Henderson is also the former director of global smallpox eradication for the World Health Organization. Henderson’s keynote address will start at 8:45 a.m. He will talk about how this directory could ultimately serve as a resource for a natural disaster impacting several states.
Among the nearly 50 attendees at the conference will be Dr. Andrew Doniger, director of the Monroe County Health Dept.; Joan Ellison, Livingston County public health director; and John Merklinger, director of Monroe County’s 911 Emergency Communications Dept.
“One of the workshop’s goals is to expand the Directory to include all 62 counties in New York state,” says Dr. David Kluge, STEP founder and editor of the STEP EMS Directory. “It provides the necessary interface between the first responders, physicians, and the emergency departments of all area hospitals. From the moment first responders arrive at the scene to the point at which doctors begin caring for the patient in the emergency room, the process should be as seamless as possible. All the information is just a click away.”
Guy Johnson, director of RIT’s Center for Advancing the Study of Cyberinfrastructure (CASCI) says, “We want to continue to improve the site’s capabilities including efforts in data mining or the merging of information without having to manually input the data. We will correlate the information in a way that improves emergency medical services.”
RIT students designed the software so any county across the U.S. can input its data. “My team provided daily support, both fixing any technical problems and helping organizations use the Directory,” says Dave Beaton, a 2006 RIT graduate who currently works at Paychex Inc. “This project provided a very unique opportunity for us because it allowed us to implement a real world application which people utilize on a daily basis.”