Emergency Responders Rely on Treo Smartphones

Emergency Responders Rely on Treo Smartphones and Handhelds to Gain Quick Access to Reference Materials During Hazardous-Materials Incidents

Palm Products Offer Flexibility to Emergency Responders Through National Library of Medicine’s WISER Mobile Application

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July 26, 2006

By: Christopher Meinck

Palm today announced that the National Library of Medicine, the largest medical library in the world and an organization within the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has created a free application for emergency responders called Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders (WISER) that runs on Palm Treo smartphones and handhelds. Emergency responders use Palm products paired with the WISER application as wireless or stand-alone reference tools for gathering information on hazardous substances and supporting comprehensive decision support. The solution serves as a reliable alternative to the current paper-based systems or outdated technology that emergency responders often contend with on a scene.

During the past 40 years, the NLM has produced a Hazardous Substance DataBank (HSDB) that compiles comprehensive data for close to 5,000 chemicals. The WISER application gives emergency responders access to relevant information on more than 400 of the most commonly encountered HSDB substances. The user interface is designed to present the data to the emergency responder in a format that is easy to access and comprehend during an emergency, as well as during disaster-preparedness training.

Available as an application download useable on Palm devices from http://wiser.nlm.nih.gov, the WISER application can travel wherever the responder needs to go. To date, NLM has recorded more than 11,000 application downloads for the Palm OS application. The free application is stored either on the Palm device or a storage card (purchased separately) and then updated at the user’s discretion.

“Our objective with WISER has been to utilize the HSDB’s existing resource of authoritative data and package it specifically for the emergency-responder community,” said Marti Szczur, deputy associate director for Specialized Information Services Division at the National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Md. “The marriage of mobile devices and the WISER application provides critical information in a useful format and enables the user to have access to this data on the site of a hazmat incident. Feedback from users is indicating that our investment in building WISER is contributing to American public health and safety.”

When handling hazardous-material (hazmat) incidents, emergency responders in general, and hazmat units in particular, have to make many decisions quickly. WISER can assist in identification of an unknown substance and provide information on immediate actions necessary to save lives and protect the environment. All this can be done right on the scene with Palm smartphones and handhelds.

“Mobility tools like Treo smartphones with the WISER application serve to shorten critical response time in crisis situations and provide accurate authoritative information,” said Lieutenant Chip Haake of the Tuscola Fire Department, Tuscola, Ill. “We have encouraged and implemented use of the Palm solution in order to make sure we’re using the latest life-saving technologies for the communities we serve, as well as our own team members.”

Larry Tucker, a regional disaster coordinator for the Duke Trauma Regional Advisory Committee, Durham, N.C., recommends that every emergency response (ER) and emergency medical services (EMS) agency use WISER on Palm devices. “The word needs to be spread that WISER is available — it’s a good program, it’s free and it’s accurate,” said Tucker. During the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, Tucker’s Palm handheld running WISER was crucial in dealing with the many chemicals in the air, water and food. His team immediately was able to identify chemicals and treat patients accordingly.

“Palm provides tools to solve critical needs that help individual citizens and whole communities,” said Tara Griffin, vice president of enterprise markets for Palm. “We’re proud that the National Institutes of Health and, specifically, the National Library of Medicine are delivering life-saving technology solutions on Palm products that offer flexibility and mobility to emergency responders across the country.”

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