Prepare for the Worst

Columbia EMS Ambulance Department uses Laserband Statband emergency response tags to prepare for mass casualties

Preparing for mass casualties has become a common theme for EMS agencies like the Columbia EMS Ambulance Department in Columbia, Illinois.

The Columbia EMS is part of the St. Louis Area Regional Response System (STARRS), which was formed in 1999 to address regional preparedness for incidents such as mass casualties, airplane crashes, terrorism events, etc. One challenge STARRS faced was developing a tracking system to capture, prioritize, track and communicate victim information from the scene through transport to the hospital.

The solution STARRS, as well as the Columbia EMS, selected was StatBand emergency response tags. These advanced emergency response tags contain pre-printed uniquely numbered and barcoded self-adhesive labels. The unique identifier on the tag and labels make it possible to track and tie patients to their belongings, forms, evidence, lab specimens, etc. Tags are scanned and victim information is entered into a database using wireless personal digital assistants and responder software. Data can also be transmitted wirelessly to receiving hospitals to alert staff about impending transports and the status of the patient(s).

For Columbia EMS, even minor emergencies are handled with StatBand tags. "We use StatBand RapidID tags for every call other than cardiac arrests and serious trauma," says Gary Hutchison, Columbia EMS. "Routine use gives us practice so we know how to use them should a mass casualty situation occur. Fortunately we haven't had to use them for such an event, but I feel with the training we've had, we should be able to manage mass casualty events effectively."

Receiving hospitals also appreciate the agency's use of the ID system. "Some hospitals use the StatBand tags with the STARRS system in lieu of radio reports," he explains. Patient information can be received via computer so hospital staff can attend to current patients without distraction. "With this system, hospitals can receive information about incoming patients without having to race to answer a radio," he says. "This is much easier for them."

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