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September 25, 2003

Bioterrorism programs here

UPMC bioterrorism preparedness programs include:

• UPMC MedCall Service is a tracking system that includes immediate contact information on more than 14,000 UPMC physicians. It is available 24 hours per day, seven days per week, and maintains more than 400 on-call schedules. The average weekly volume of calls is 4,000, with a corresponding outbound volume of 4,400 calls. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, MedCall was modified to include a database of experts in bioterrorism, infectious diseases and disaster medicine.

• UPMC Safety Link is a series of educational sessions that give UPMC managers and staff detailed information on how they should respond to specific disasters and emergencies, natural or man-made. In a disaster, each UPMC hospital would have its own command center and instructions on how to respond. To date, more than half of UPMC employees have received Safety Link training.

• RaPiD-T WMD Response Training for Local and Regional EMS Services — RaPiD-T stands for Recognition, Personal Protection, Decontamination and Triage/Treatment, the steps that first responders must take to minimize injuries to themselves and to maximize victim survival. RaPiD-T methodology is an attempt to systemize first responses to potential terrorist hazards. The heart of the RaPiD-T system is a symptom-based, diagnostic matrix intended to aid non-medical or non-specialists in recognizing the potential agent. By observing common symptoms in exposed victims, the matrix suggests a probable agent class and assigns a color code indicating the personal protection, decontamination and triage/treatment that first responders should use.

• Real-time Outbreak and Disease Surveillance System (RODS) is a computer-based surveillance, analysis and communication system that conducts ongoing, real-time monitoring and analysis of data that is continually evaluated to detect various kinds of threats to public health, whether naturally occurring outbreaks or potential bioterrorism attacks. RODS monitors, among other things, emergency department and acute care visits. After a patient registers, complaining of cough or other symptoms, this fact is transmitted (without identifying information) directly from the hospital to the RODS system where it is combined with information from other visits in the region. Investigators then look for possible geographical or other relationships among these patients so they can make specific diagnoses for groups with common symptoms.

• The Pittsburgh Matrix is an emergency response application that hospital and public health officials can use to become more prepared in the event of a bioterrorism attack or infectious disease outbreak. It can identify 20 different bioterrorism scenarios along with a timeline of detection to determine cost worth data. For example, the Pittsburgh Matrix would be able to determine, based on a particular scenario, whether a hospital should stockpile medications or invest in better bioterrorism detection technology systems.

• The UPMC Critical Incident Stress Management Team assisted with the 1994 USAir Flight 427 crash in Hopewell Township, the United Flight 93 crash in Shanksville on Sept. 11, 2001, and last year’s Quecreek mine rescue in Somerset. The team consists of emergency medicine personnel and mental health experts from Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. It offers on-scene support; demobilization for emergency responders; a defusing phase that assesses the mental health needs of emergency workers, and a debriefing phase weeks or months after a disaster.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 36 Issue 3

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