UK – Vodafone connects South Central Ambulance Service First Responders to boost patient response

Vodafone UK is providing South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) with mobile devices and a bespoke app to improve efficiency and response times for its 1,200 Community First Responders (CFRs) and Co Responders (Police, Fire & Military) in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hampshire. CFRs and Co Responders are volunteers trained to attend medical emergencies and start lifesaving interventions prior to the arrival of an ambulance.  These interventions can have a significant positive impact on patient outcomes.

The Vodafone solution includes a bespoke app and the provision of mobile devices with 4G connectivity, which can be securely managed, protecting patient information. To date, 350 mobile devices are in operation across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire, with a further 210 to be issued over the coming weeks.

The bespoke app, developed in partnership with CommonTime, enables simple and reliable communication between the Community First Responders and their office-based control centre – the Clinical Coordination Centre.

Community First Responders can log in and report that they are available to respond.  When an incident occurs, the closest available responder will be alerted and provided with the exact location, fastest route and incident details. On arrival, they can share critical information about the incident and request additional support from the emergency services.  For their safety, CFRs are tracked at all times through GPS.

Nic Morecroft, Head of Operations – Community Engagement & Training, South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We recognise there is a huge opportunity to improve patient care using digital technology. Our partnership with Vodafone highlights how implementing technology solutions can have an immediate and real impact on the service we offer to patients.  We have already seen improved efficiencies and feedback from our first responders has been extremely positive.”

Anne Sheehan, Enterprise Director from Vodafone UK said: “We are delighted to be working with the South Central Ambulance Service to help improve response times for this critical service, and ultimately patient care. We will be working together to identify other areas where we can use the power of technology to bring benefits to both Community First Responders and patients.”

UK – NEAS launches new resource to support patients with learning disabilities

The North East Ambulance Service has launched a new resource to support patients with learning disabilities.

A new online resource is now available on the Trust’s website, giving people the information in an easy read format that will help them to choose which emergency service they require, be it  NHS111 or 999.

Public Health England has stated that 40% of people with a learning disability reported having difficulty using health services.  People with learning disabilities are two and a half times more likely to have health problems than other people and therefore many of the patients that staff provide aid to often have barriers to communication during triage and treatment. (Equal Treatment: Closing the Gap).

Engagement manager at the Trust, Mark Johns, explained why there was a need to develop information for different people who use the service.  He said, “We know from patient feedback and surveys that people with learning disabilities find it harder to access and communicate with our service.

Information about how to use our services should be readily available to all members of the public, including people with learning disabilities, and we wanted to make sure that we tailored the information so that it’s accessible to people who need it in a different format.”

The NEAS learning disability zone has been created to reduce barriers to communication for people with learning disabilities to optimise patient experience and quality of care.  The information is presented an illustrative form of what to do in an emergency, including a section of what to expect inside an ambulance with pictures and basic descriptions of the equipment in the vehicle.

A user led project group was set up with a community group which supports people with learning disabilities to understand the obstacles individuals face and to help design new guidance on how to access emergency assistance.

Stephen Mckay Guidepost day centre officer said, “We support a diverse group of individuals with a wide range of learning disabilities and it’s encouraging to see this work has taken into consideration the varied capacity and needs of these individuals and the end product speaks for itself. So many places create resources for people with learning disabilities without meaningful engagement with them.

“It’s great that the group have been so heavily involved in creating this zone and actually really listened to. NEAS has broken down the barriers that people with learning disabilities can face when it comes to accessing the right healthcare services and developed a resource we think will help support others to understand the services they offer.”

Mark continues “The project group explained their fears about being inside an ambulance and calling 999 so we’ve tried to allay their fears with more information about what happens once calling us and once on board an ambulance. We hope this new resource gives confidence to people when they come across and need our emergency services. For NEAS, it means that our call handlers will be aware of what to expect when arranging the appropriate help for the person in need, making the experience less stressful for all concerned.”

NEAS also arranged for the project group to meet a paramedic who showed them around the inside of an ambulance and encouraged them to experience sitting on the stretcher and wearing an oxygen mask, should it ever happen to them in the future.

Carol who was one of the participants in the project group said, “I was terrified of the mask, that’s why I asked to have a go.  Now I won’t be scared if I needed to ever use it in real life. I hope when people see my picture they won’t feel scared too. The North East Ambulance Service’s website is really good and I’m glad I got to tell the paramedics and other staff what I wanted to know.”

Paul, who was another participant in the project group said, “The new NEAS website page is really good and I really like that NEAS listened to me and I will show other people so they can learn how to get help too.”

You can find out more about the disability learning zone by following this link: /patient-info/learning-disability-zone.aspx

Delaware – DPH announces first flu deaths of the 2018-19 season

The Division of Public Health (DPH) is reporting the first flu-related deaths of the 2018-2019 flu season. A 65-year-old man who was infected with Influenza A passed away last week, making him the first person to die due to flu complications this season. In addition, a 73-year-old man and a 77-year-old woman, both also infected with Influenza A, passed away within the last week. All three individuals were Sussex County residents and all had underlying health conditions.

As of Dec. 22, 2018, the most recent date for which statistics are available, there have been 461 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza in Delaware. This number only reflects the number of lab-confirmed cases; the actual number of cases circulating statewide is likely much higher. Additionally, 80 people have been hospitalized with flu-like symptoms since the start of the flu season. These numbers are an increase from the 2017-2018 season when at the same time, there were 225 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza and 63 hospitalizations.

“Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who have died from flu-related complications,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “This is an unfortunate and solemn reminder that the flu can be deadly. If you haven’t already, please take the time to get a flu vaccine and make sure everyone in your family has received theirs, as well. The flu vaccine lowers your chances of getting the flu and can lessen the severity of symptoms if you do fall ill. Also be sure to take any antiviral medication as your doctor prescribes.”

Single-week numbers of laboratory-confirmed flu cases have started to increase in Delaware. A total of 179 lab-confirmed flu cases were recorded between Dec. 16 and Dec. 22, 2018, compared to 95 laboratory-confirmed cases reported between Dec. 9 and Dec. 15, 2018.

In addition to getting a flu vaccine and taking antiviral medication, DPH recommends the following:
• Practice social distancing if you have cold or flu-like symptoms.
• Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
• Cover sneezes and coughs with a tissue, and dispose of tissues immediately; if no tissue is available,
sneeze or cough into your inner elbow.
• Stay home if you are sick until you are free of fever for 24 hours – with a temperature of less than 100
degrees F (37.8 degrees C), without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least 24 hours.

Social distancing means that those sick with the flu should stay home from work, school, and other gatherings and not return until they have been free of fever – with a temperature less than 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C) without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least 24 hours. They should avoid close contact with well people in the household, and stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other clear liquids. Over-the-counter medicines can provide symptom relief, but if you suspect you have influenza, call your doctor as he or she may decide to provide antiviral medications to help hasten recovery and prevent serious complications. This is particularly important for those who feel very sick, are pregnant or have chronic medical conditions.

Flu symptoms come on suddenly, and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and body aches, chills and fatigue. Some people get complications including pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus and ear infections. People with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes and asthma are more susceptible to catching the flu.

DPH will be administering free flu vaccines in the basement floor Library in Legislative Hall at 410 Legislative Ave., Dover, on Wednesday, Jan. 16, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Members of the public who wish to attend this flu clinic must go through security. Additionally, flu vaccines continue to be available at many pharmacies and grocery stores, and through primary care physicians and some specialists. To find participating stores, enter your zip code in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) flu vaccine finder at www.cdc.gov/flu/. For more information about the flu, visit flu.delaware.gov/ or call DPH at 1-800-282-8672.

Flu shots are still available at DPH clinics located within the State Service Centers:

• Porter State Service Center, 509 W. 8th St., Wilmington. For all ages 9 and up. Walk-ins are welcome Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to noon and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

• Hudson State Service Center, 501 Ogletown Road, Newark. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Call 302-283-7587 (choose Option 2) to make an appointment Monday through Friday.

• Williams State Service Center, 805 River Road, Dover. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Call 302-857-5140 to make an appointment Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

• Milford State Service Center – Riverwalk, 253 N.E. Front St., Milford. For ages 9 years and older. Call 302-424-7130 to make an appointment on Mondays from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

• Anna C. Shipley State Service Center, 350 Virginia Ave., Seaford. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Walk-ins welcome Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For information, call 302-628-6772.

• Adams State Service Center, 544 S. Bedford St., Georgetown. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Walk-ins welcome on Thursdays only from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

For more information about flu surveillance in Delaware, read the weekly flu report at dhss.delaware.gov/dph/epi/influenzawkly.html.

Australia – NSW – Measles alert

NSW Health is warning people to be alert for signs and symptoms of measles, after three infectious cases have been notified in the Christmas-New Year period.

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness which begins with a cough, fever, sore, red eyes and runny nose, followed three to four days later by a red spotty rash which begins on the face and neck and spreads to the rest of the body.

People who are experiencing signs and symptoms of measles should seek medical attention. NSW Health recommends calling ahead to the practice or emergency department to alert of them of your symptoms, so that measures can be taken to limit your exposure to others upon your arrival.

Symptoms usually begin to appear around 10 days after exposure to an infectious case, however the time from exposure to onset can be as long as 18 days.

Update 3 January 2019

A child visiting from overseas developed measles symptoms while visiting NSW on Christmas Eve. Prior to being diagnosed with measles and isolated the child visited the several locations. People who were at these locations at the same time as the child may be at risk of developing measles up to January 18:

DateLocation
Thursday 27 DecemberChatswood Medical and Dental Centre, 7 – 8pm
Thursday 27 DecemberChatswood Mall, including Chemist Warehouse, late afternoon
Friday 28 DecemberOakvale Winery, Pokolbin, 5 – 6pm
Saturday 29 DecemberDinner at Bimbadgen Winery, Pokolbin, 6:30 – 8pm
Sunday 30 DecemberChatswood Medical and Dental Centre, 3-4pm
Monday 31 December- New Year’s DayRoyal North Shore Emergency Department, 11pm – 1am

Australia – ACT – Update on measles in the ACT

The individual is in isolation at the Canberra Hospital and in line with the national guidelines, Health Protection Service staff are currently contacting people who have been in contact with the person.

Dr Kelly said this was the first case of measles to be notified in the ACT in 2019.

“We believe the individual is likely to have acquired the infection from the measles case reported in the ACT in mid-December,” Dr Kelly said.

“As the person did not attend any public venues or events in the ACT whilst infectious, we are advising the community that there is minimal risk of exposure to the general public.

“Contacts with the individual have been able to be identified and ACT Health staff are following-up with these people directly.

“As the individual travelled in NSW between Christmas and the New Year, we are working closely with NSW Health, who are also providing information to their local communities,” Dr Kelly said.

As Measles can be highly contagious among people who are not fully immunised, ACT Health is taking the opportunity to reiterate important health advice on measles and to know the symptoms. These include a fever, tiredness, cough, runny nose and sore eyes, followed up by a rash.

Anyone with symptoms of measles should seek medical advice, advising their health care provider before they arrive so that appropriate infection control precautions can be put in place to stop the spread of the infection.

People generally develop symptoms 7-18 days after being exposed to a person with infectious measles, with 10 days being more common. People are infectious from 4 days before they develop a rash until 4 days after.

The virus is spread from an infectious person during coughing and sneezing or through direct contact with secretions from the nose or mouth.

Whenever a case of measles is identified in our community, it is a strong reminder that the best way to protect yourself and your family against measles is vaccination.

Two doses of Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine (MMR) are required for immunity against measles and are given to children in Australia at 12 and 18 months of age. However, the vaccine can be given at any age after 9 months.

With many travelling over the holiday period in the next few weeks, we are encouraging people to check their immunisation status and get up to date if needed before travelling.

For further information about measles, visit the ACT Health website.

Jamaica – Health Ministry moves to stem the tide of dengue infections

The extension of the Enhanced Vector Control (EVC) Programme is among the raft of measures being taken by the Ministry of Health in response to a more active dengue season.

“Each suspected and/or confirmed case of dengue is concerning to the Ministry of Health and every effort is being made to put in place measures to ensure the best possible health outcomes for each Jamaican affected,” said Minister of Health, Dr. Christopher Tufton.

The EVC programme is to be extended to March 2019, to include the employment of an additional 500 temporary workers, who will join the effort to identify and eliminate mosquito breeding sites. This is to keep the public safe from vector-borne diseases, including dengue, that are transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

In addition, the public can expect:

  • Increased fogging in communities, particularly those with clusters of dengue cases;
  • Continued implementation of the USAID-ZAP programme, whose team has worked with the Ministry’s vector control staff in more than 71 communities to eliminate mosquito breeding sites; and
  • Ongoing collaboration with the University of the West Indies, Mona at the Mosquito Control and Research Unit to reduce the spread of vector-borne diseases.

“The vector control efforts of the Ministry and its partners have been shown to yield success. However, the gains can only be sustained and multiplied by the householder taking action. We, therefore, encourage members of the public to support our interventions by keeping their homes and places of work free of mosquito breeding sites,” said Director of the Health Promotion and Protection Branch at the Ministry, Dr. Simone Spence.

Meanwhile, with the increase in dengue cases helping to put pressure on the public health system, the Ministry is also working with its regional teams to address the overcrowding at some facilities, including at Bustamante Hospital for Children, where:

  • At least one roving nurse is stationed, together with Customer Service Officers, to respond to patients’ needs as they come in;
  • Senior Managers have been rostered to give administrative coverage after 5:00 PM and on weekends; and
  • There is additional employment of Enrolled assistant nurses to complement Registered Nurses.

Other response measures include:

  • Extended opening hours at several health centres within the South East Health Region;
  • Increased sessional staff (nurses and doctors) in hospitals’ Accident and Emergency Departments; and
  • Increased customer service representatives.

“The public can feel sure that we are doing all that is within our power, given the current demand and within the bounds of available resources, to ensure timely access and quality care for our patients,” noted Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie.

Trinidad and Tobago – Ministry of Health responds to reports of Malaria

The Ministry of Health (MoH) acknowledges the recent media reports regarding the current case of Malaria at the San Fernando General Hospital. The MoH assures the public that, through the Insect Vector Control Division (IVCD), the Ministry has enhanced its surveillance and vector control activities in order to optimally manage this mosquito borne disease. The Inter-ministerial Committee on Malaria, established in 2018, has presented to Cabinet a National Malaria Action Plan. The activities undertaken by the agencies of the MoH are in alignment with this plan and include:   Surveillance activities –

  • Home visits by Public Health Inspectors and other health care professionals to continue the ongoing investigation of this current case.
  • Testing at-risk individuals using a blood smearing technique. This technique is the WHO recommended approach for testing suspected malaria cases.
  • Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Mapping of both human cases and the mosquito (Anopheles) habitats.

Insect vector control activities-

  • Indoor Residual spraying, which will be conducted in the affected areas. This is the mainstay of Malaria vector control.
  • Ultra low volume spraying (truck mounted spraying), which will take place from the evening of Monday 24th December, 2018.
  • Mosquito surveillance for the Anopheles mosquito (Malaria is spread by the Anopheles mosquito).

This ongoing programme of the IVCD has been strengthened in response to regional increases in the prevalence of Malaria and the increased migration of persons from Malaria endemic regions.  

Personal Protection   Members of the public are asked to note that the Anopheles mosquito, which spreads Malaria, bites predominately at night between 6:00 pm to 6:00 am.   (The Aedes aegypti mosquito usually bites in the daytime (6:00 am to 6:00 pm). This mosquito spreads Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika). The public is reminded of the following personal protective measures for mosquito bite avoidance:

  • Use of mosquito repellents.
  • Use bed nets
  • Screen doors and windows.
  • Wear protective clothing.
  • Keep surroundings clean.

The MoH also continues to maintain strong partnerships with international and regional agencies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the UN Migration Agency (IOM) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to ensure that our insect vector borne disease control, remains consistent with international best practice.  

Study – Big data and technology in disasters: Better integration needed for effective response

In a recent review article published in the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, a group of Johns Hopkins’ authors evaluated 113 studies using predetermined criteria with the final search taking place on May 1, 2017. Search terms were created in consultation with medical librarians and subject matter experts in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), big data, and disasters. Only articles that implemented ICT and big data tools in real life were considered. (Table 1).


Disasters are becoming more commonplace and complex, and the challenges for rescue and humanitarian organizations increase. Increasingly these groups turn to big data to help provde solutions. The authors wished to examine how ICT tools and big data were being used in disaster responses. By conducting a structured literature search and developing a data extraction tool on the use of ICT and big data during disasters they showed that some important gaps exist which should be part of a future research focus.
Credit : Copyright: © 2018 Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. https://doi.org/10.1017/dmp.2018.73

A data extraction tool was developed by subject matter and included the following items; first author and year, data type, disaster type, country. (Table 2).

The literature review identified some important gaps: more information is needed on the use of technologies. Most articles discussed the use of ICT in natural disasters which were mainly hurricanes and earthquakes. What was underreported was data on extreme temperatures and flooding, even though these events account for 27% and 26% of global deaths respectively.

Copyright: © 2018 Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. https://doi.org/10.1017/dmp.2018.73

According to first author Dr. Jeffrey Freeman, “Disasters are inherently a Big Data challenge, and with the ubiquitous nature of cell phones, the rapid spread of connectivity, and the rise of technologies like the Internet of Things, the challenge is only going to get bigger. In disasters, the key question we face today is how do we harness a growingly diverse and often chaotic wave of data and information. Simply put, we’ve got to handle more data than we’ve ever had, and do so more quickly and effectively than we’ve ever done before. Big Data and ICT pose a serious challenge in disasters, but they also hold promise for potential solutions. The answer to leveraging the massive amounts of data that ICT is creating is likely to be found within the very same technologies driving the Information Age. But we have to think creatively about adapting and adopting these technologies in emergency situations. Disasters leave little room for trial and error. The consequences are too great.”

According to Dr. Dan Barnett (coauthor on the paper) “As a researcher of public health emergency preparedness and response systems, I’ve watched closely as the rate of innovation has frequently outpaced adoption in this field. If we are to be effective in responding to disasters and other public health emergency situations, we need to do a better job figuring out how technology can be integrated into disaster response.

In embarking on this integrative literature review, we knew information and communications technology (ICT) was present in disasters, and we knew people were using related technologies, but we didn’t know much else. As researchers, we wanted to more clearly understand how Big Data applications and ICT solutions were being used, and more importantly, we wanted to know where things went right and where things went wrong. These kinds of insights can move the state of the science forward, and ultimately, allow us to achieve a more effective response to disasters.

Technology and disasters have had a tenuous relationship. For those of us in the field, there has been a growing recognition that technology holds promise for enabling disaster response, but we’ve also watched as even the most basic of technologies, like phone service and electricity, has been crippled during the acute phase of a disaster. Technology holds little value in disasters if unavailable when it’s needed most. If we can understand more clearly how people want to use Big Data and ICT in disasters, then we can focus our efforts on ensuring those technologies are resilient and reliable under any circumstances.”

Report – Chronic Disease After Natural Disasters: Public Health, Policy, and Provider Perspectives

Chronic Disease After Natural Disasters: Public Health, Policy, and Provider Perspectives

Source:Columbia University, Earth Institute, National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP)

Date Published: 11/27/2018

Format: PDF

Annotation: The purpose of this 46-page report is to provide public and private stakeholders, especially at the state and local levels, with a resource to help them better understand and support the needs of individuals with chronic conditions, and the post-disaster burden on chronic diseases. It highlights the strengths and weaknesses that have been experienced or are anticipated in current approaches to this issue, and makes recommendations that include increasing the focus on the needs of these patients during the disaster recovery phase.

 URL:https://academiccommons.columbia.edu/doi/10.7916/D8ZP5Q23

Issue Paper – Enhancing the Resilience of Victims After Terrorist Attacks

Enhancing the Resilience of Victims After Terrorist Attacks

Source:European Union, European Commission

Date Published: 3/2018

Format: PDF

Annotation: This 21-page issue paper looks into the resilience of victims and the broader society after a terrorist attack, and proposes how this can be strengthened, building upon the experience and advice of victims from past attacks. It discusses the importance of looking at the variety of reactions displayed by victims and society alike after an attack has taken place, and to explore the key principles when it comes to psychosocial care.

URL:https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/what-we-do/networks/radicalisation_awareness_network/about-ran/ran-rvt/docs/enhancing_resilience_victims_after_terrorist_attacks_032018_en.pdf