EMCAPS helps emergency response officials ensure they are ready for a large-scale threat. Melinda Johnson, Metropolitan Medical Response System program coordinator for the north central region of Colorado, began using the software three years ago. With EMCAPS, she can run a scenario and see how the estimated number of patients compares to the surge capacity at area hospitals. If a given situation would overwhelm a particular local hospital, medical personnel would work with local and state officials to move patients to another hospital in the 10-county region or elsewhere in the state. Prior to the creation of EMCAPS, first responders and emergency planners had few tools to calculate the likely impact of an emergency. "It's difficult to find an algorithm that says x disaster in this community causes y casualties," Johnson said.
In addition to estimating the numbers of casualties in a given disaster, EMCAPS lists the kinds of injuries victims are likely to sustain based upon the disaster type. With this information, first responders participating in training scenarios can consider what equipment and planning would be needed to effectively treat patients. Victims of a dirty bomb detonation, for instance, would likely experience partial or total hearing loss. In that situation, first responders must consider ways to effectively communicate with patients during the triage process, according to Scheulen.
When the significantly upgraded version of the software is released next year, it will offer even more scenarios, including earthquakes and hurricanes, so first responders can plan for natural disasters as well as terrorist attacks, according to Whiteree. Researchers are reviewing the existing scenarios to see if the calculations can be improved or updated. The release also will revise the injury severity scale used in the current EMCAPS, according to Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Epidemiologist Jacquel
|Contact: John Verrico|
US Department of Homeland Security - Science and Technology