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UPMC to Test Biodefense System in Emergency Exercise


The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) will participate on Friday, July 27, in a simulated mass casualty incident involving the Pennsylvania National Guard, St. Francis University’s Center of Excellence for Remote and Medically Under-Served Areas (CERMUSA) and various regional emergency responders.

Named “Operation Red Rose II,” this second annual exercise will begin at 7:30 a.m. at the Lancaster County Public Safety Training Center, 101 Champ Blvd., in East Hempfield Township. More than 500 emergency and other personnel are expected to participate. The event is designed to measure the ability of various state, federal and private agencies to effectively deal with emergency situations. To add to the realism of the exercise, none of the participants will be informed of the nature of the situation until the exercise has begun.

UPMC will be testing its Strategic Biodefense Emergency Operations and Communications System (SBEOCS), which includes a Web-based portal for health care workers called PrepLink, a limited health care satellite communication system, and a communication and notification system called HealthComm.

Using the PrepLink prototype system, emergency operation centers, health systems and individual hospitals can view hospital bed availability, hospital status and critical incident information during a disaster. Physicians and critical staff can be contacted via HealthComm, and communication can be sustained during disaster-related system outages through the satellite network. Emergency patient tracking systems also will be evaluated and tested by the SBEOCS team as part of Operation Red Rose II.

The SBEOCS was initiated in 2005 and is administered by the Innovative Medical and Information Technologies (IMITs) Center at UPMC. When the system is production ready in late 2007, the SBEOCS will be used in Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Region 13 to help coordinate the communication of health care-related information during mass casualty or other disaster situations.

UPMC’s prehospital care department also will be at the Lancaster County site with its Simulation Medical And Resource Training (SMART) Unit. This multi-purpose mobile facility combines audiovisual and simulation technologies, including the SBEOCS satellite dish to provide Internet capabilities and voice over IP phones. The vehicle is equipped with two fully functional hospital emergency treatment rooms, a minor care triage area and a command/control area. During Operation Red Rose II, it will be used to provide medical care for simulated drill victims and to test the SBEOCS satellite network.

CERMUSA will provide staff and technology resources for this drill, including its Mobile Communications Platform vehicle and modular mesh network. The network will enable videoconferencing from the scene of the simulated disaster, streaming video, point-to-point wireless links and wireless Internet connectivity for first responders.


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