NATIONAL EMS INFORMATION SYSTEM
In the inaugural issue of EMS Update (March 2006) we discussed the many benefits of having uniform, nationwide EMS data. In the Summer 2006 online issue of EMS Update we provided more information about the actual NHTSA Uniform Prehospital Dataset (version 2.2.1), the data portability provided through the standardized platform (XML) that allows data to be seamlessly transferred from one organization or deviceto another, and a description of the various resources and services offered by the NEMSIS Technical Assistance Center (NEMSIS TAC).
There has been more exciting progress on implementation of NEMSIS. Over the summer, NEMSIS TAC began to receive State EMS data from the first several States to participate in the National EMS Database. It is expected that six to seven States will submit data by the end of this year, with several more preparing to submit next year. In mid-June, the NEMSIS TAC Advisory Board held its first meeting in Silver Spring, Maryland. The advisory board is comprised of representatives of key EMS stakeholders and will provide ongoing input to the TAC. In addition, in July 2006 the TAC announced the first class of NEMSIS-compliant software. This will assist State and local agencies in their selection of vendors/software for EMS data collection and analysis. A list of NEMSIS-compliant software and information about the NEMSIS compliance process can be found at www.nemsis.org.
Finally, the NEMSIS TAC, NHTSA’s Office of EMS, and the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) have begun discussions about the initial reports that might be generated from the National EMS Database. There will be many opportunities for input as these discussions continue.
Uniform, nationwide EMS data that can be seamlessly transferred from one organization or device to another will give EMS will the ability to strategically plan its future, with decisions based on objective evidence. NEMSIS data will give EMS another tool to guide its continued improvement. For more information on NEMSIS, visit the NEMSIS Web site at www.nemsis.org or contact Susan McHenry.
Next Generation 9-1-1 Initiative
It’s been a busy summer for the Next Generation 9-1-1 Initiative. In conjunction with the Intelligent Transportation System’s (ITS) Public Safety Program (housed within the Federal Highway Administration), the Office of EMS is managing a research initiative that will produce a high-level system architecture and transition plan for the next generation of the 9-1-1 system, establishing the foundation for emergency communications in a wireless mobile society and enabling enhanced 9-1-1 access with many communication devices. The goal of the initiative is to establish the infrastructure for transmission of voice, data, photographs, and video from different types of communication devices to the Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) and onto emergency responder networks.
America’s current 9-1-1 system is decades old, and was not built to handle the text, data, photos, and video that are increasingly common in personal communications. The current system is analog, not digital, and is landline-based, not Internet-based. This antiquated network cannot transmit the information available from new technologies. The data, photos, and video provided by personal communication devices have the potential to improve emergency response, triage, and definitive care. That’s assuming PSAPs are equipped to receive data, photos, and video, and that EMS providers know how to use this additional information to improve patient care
A Request for Proposals was issued in May for a design team that will be responsible for producing a high-level system architecture and transition plan for the next generation of the 9-1-1 system. The NG 9-1-1 design team contract, funded by the ITS Joint Program Office, will be awarded this fall. To view the preliminary concept of operations document and for other information on the Next Generation 9-1-1 Initiative, visit http://www.its.dot.gov/ng911/index.htm, or contact Laurie Flaherty.
National 9-1-1 Office
The emergency communication provided by 9-1-1 services is an essential component of any EMS or public safety system. To support 9-1-1 services, a National 9-1-1 Office, required by Congress, is being established within the Office of EMS -- a joint effort between NHTSA and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) at the Department of Commerce. The ENHANCE 911 Act of 2004 requires the establishment of a National 9-1-1 Implementation Coordination Office (National 9-1-1 Office) whose functions include:
- actions to improve Federal coordination and communication on 9-1-1 activities;
- developing, collecting, and disseminating information concerning practices, procedures, and technology used in the implementation of 9-1-1 services; and
- administering a grant program designed to provide funding to 9-1-1 call centers, to upgrade their equipment and operations to receive 9-1-1 calls with automatic phone number and location identification.
Most commercial telephone networks have the technology to transmit wireless 9-1-1 calls that include automatic phone number and location identification. However, many of our Nation’s 9-1-1 call centers are still operating with 30-year-old infrastructure, and are not ready to take advantage of these new capabilities. The ENHANCE 911 Act of 2004 authorized grant funding for 9-1-1 call centers to upgrade their equipment and operations to receive location-capable wireless 9-1-1 calls. Although the grant program will not be funded until 2008, the National 9-1-1 Office will create a Federal focus for 9-1-1 policy and programs. For more information, contact Laurie Flaherty.