As a response to “significant” gaps in the health monitoring of the 3.5 million emergency workers in the United States, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has released a free software product.
The ERHMS Info Manager was developed to implement the Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance (ERHMS) framework into emergency responder organizations.
“The nation depends on more than 3 million emergency response workers who are trained and prepared to respond to disasters and other emergencies where they often face hazardous conditions,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D in a statement. “ERHMS Info Manager streamlines the important task of response worker health monitoring and surveillance saving organizations time while ensuring the health and safety of emergency responders.”
The software platform allows organizations to track and monitor emergency response and recovery worker activities during all phases of emergency response following a natural disaster or other public health emergency.
It can be used by anyone involved in the deployment and protection of emergency responders, including: incident command staff, response organization leadership, health, safety and medical personnel and emergency responders, according to NIOSH.
“By being able to easily collect, analyze, and report health data, ERHMS Info Manager decreases the time required to identify exposures and signs and symptoms illness throughout an emergency response to ensure workers are not harmed and can respond effectively,” said NIOSH ERHMS Coordinator Jill Shugart, MSPH in a statement. “Data collected before, during, and after a response also helps identify which responders would benefit from medical referral and possible enrollment in a long-term health surveillance program.”
ERHMS Info Manager uses CDC’s publically-accessible data management and informatics tool, Epi Info for creating forms, capturing data and analyzing data specific to emergency response situations. The platform allows users to:
- Create responder profiles
- Record response incidents and map incident locations
- Assign responders to an incident roster
- Design forms and surveys using custom and pre-built templates
- Request information from responders by using forms and surveys
- View and analyze forms and survey responses.
NIOSH, along with partner federal agencies, developed the ERHMS framework following the collapse of the World Trade Center when the subsequent health problems experienced by responders illustrated an urgent need for improved health monitoring and surveillance of emergency responders.
Additional resources as well as the ERHMS Info Manager can be found on NIOSH's website.