Wednesday, February 29, 2012
A year ago, when fire forced the evacuation of the nursing home across the street, Trident Medical Center’s Emergency Department could communicate quickly with all the other hospitals in the area, as well as EMS and emergency preparedness officials.
What used to take multiple phone calls costing 30-40 minutes of valuable staff time instead took only a few minutes thanks to e-Net Messenger, a new platform that allows text and voice messages to be sent simultaneously to all users in the local emergency medical community.
“This has provided a significant solution to one of the biggest problems in emergencies – communication between agencies,” says Michael Shirey, EMS, Security and Emergency Management Coordinator for Trident Health. Both Trident and Summerville Medical Center’s utilize this new technology.
Shirey helped secure funding for all the major tri-county hospital to tap into E-Net through a successful grant proposal to the federal Hospital Preparedness Program. “Each hospital received this machine and this software at no cost to the hospital,” he says. EMS in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties also were tied into e-Net, along with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
E-Net not only allows each user to send alerts and follow-up messages to the rest of the group, it also allows for instant responses to verify that messages have been received. It can be used any time a crisis with the potential for mass casualties crops up, whether it’s a natural disaster, an industrial accident, an illness outbreak or any other sudden event that might place demands on health services.
“It’s quick, and it’s easy to use and it reaches all the key players immediately,”
-Dorchester County EMS Director Doug Warren.
Dorchester County EMS used e-Net in January when riots broke out at Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville. Three corrections officers were transported from the maximum-security prison to TMC as a result of injuries sustained during the nightlong uprising, and officials feared that many more might be seriously hurt.
Warren says he kept the hospitals informed with hourly updates that would not have been possible without e-Net and ultimately informed them when they could stand down and return to normal staffing levels in their emergency departments. “This clearly facilitates much better communication,” he says, “and it’s two-way.”