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Anaheim Fire Department Deploys Multipronged RFID System
Radio frequency identification will help the California organization monitor the location and status of not only firefighters, equipment and supplies, but also disaster victims.
The RFID solution, once fully implemented, will be able to capture data from the tags as they are scanned at every step of the way, from initial check-in by a medic to transport to the hospital, thus allowing for the seamless hand-off of patients. The ability to quickly know the number of patients, as well as their types of injuries and disposition, is a huge step forward in the handling of mass-casualty incidents, Logue says, and will eliminate lost tags or missed information. This, he adds, will enable patients to be quickly reunited with their families.
The RFID-enabled system, developed by VerdaSee and the Anaheim Fire Department, consists of EPC Gen 2 tags embedded in the triage tags, which are affixed to patients via a lanyard. First responders and medical personnel are equipped with a handheld device containing a built-in RFID reader they can use to capture the tags' unique ID numbers. A display screen on the device guides a medic through a series of prompts requesting such basic information as the patient's approximate age, sex and condition.
The tags can be scanned once more when the patient is loaded onto an ambulance, at which time the hospital to which that person will be taken can be entered into the system. All of the data can then be transmitted to a back-end system that the commander in charge of the incident can access in order to better understand the situation and the fire department's response, as well as learn the quantity of patients and the individual status of each.
The Anaheim Fire Department was able to work with VerdaSee to develop the RFID-enabled triage tags and interrogators via funding from a grant issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as part of its Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) program. The program helps cities develop plans, conduct training and exercises, and acquire equipment for responding to a mass-casualty event caused by a terrorist act.
Since deploying its RFID system, Logue says, the department has sought other ways to leverage it as well. "The more often personnel utilize the reader," he states, "the more comfortable they will be with the device." The department has thus begun affixing EPC Gen 2 tags to medical supplies stored at the 12 fire stations so firefighters can automatically order new supplies when needed.
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