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Bar codes help first responders track patients during triage

Sunday - 9/22/2013, 8:26am  ET

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This tag might save a life during an emergency situation. (Global Emergency Resources)

WASHINGTON - It was a busy day at National Airport on Saturday - a large-scale emergency response drill was taking place where first responders were dealing with a mock plane crash involving more than 100 passengers. At the same time, new technology was being used that makes it easier to keep tabs on the injured.

It's a bar code tracking system which allows first responders to track all of the patients that are triaged at the scene of an emergency situation. Most importantly, they can track the number of patients who are in dire need of immediate care.

The patient tracking system uses a device that scans the bar code on a patient's triage tag. The tag identifies the patient and the level of care they need.

The system allows first responders to enter information about the victims, their injuries and what hospitals they will be taken to from the scene. It's all uploaded to a system that's tracked in real time, and the hospitals can upload the information.

Joseph Krieg, an account executive with Global Emergency Resources which developed the electronic patient triage and tracking system, says the bar code can track the patient throughout the process.

"For this incident, it was for the transport officer to say 'I've sent 10 patients to Alexandria Hospital' and be able to manage the situation based on that," he says of Saturday's airport drill. "Once Alexandria Hospital gets overcrowded then they can determine where else these patients need to go."

Krieg says the system allows for complete situational awareness, and for responders can track numbers of patients, and that's critical in this kind of environment. Krieg says the bottom line is that it reduces response times and that saves lives.

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