CDC studies potential for sensors to enhance first responder efforts

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention increasingly is studying wearable health to enhance how emergency responders operate, according to Gayle DeBord, director of the Center for Direct Reading and Sensor Technology at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health within CDC.

DeBord, in an interview with Nextgov, notes that CDC intends to publish a technical report on the landscape of sensors in healthcare, but says that the agency is currently in the "research phase" of such efforts. Through upcoming focus groups and scheduled workshops, CDC researchers hope to learn more about how sensors can paint a more detailed picture of emergency environments, perhaps to enhance first responder preparation and deployment.

The agency does not anticipate publishing a report, however, until late 2017, DeBord says.

"All the sensors are out there like Fitbit, these health sensors. How can we use those to better gauge what's in the environment?" DeBord says. "Environmental health has really embraced the sensor world."

In particular, she says, first responders with whom she has spoken have indicated that increased sensors in buildings would help them to prioritize and streamline their efforts.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, beginning in October 2014, integrated automated patient tracking capability into its emergency first responder training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness. The software, which is mobile device compatible, is viewed as a critical aspect to incident response, according to FEMA leaders.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County Fire Department uses a mobile app to find and tap people trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation who may be close by in an emergency situation.

To learn more:
- read the full Nextgov interview

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