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Online Resource Helps Responders Identify Chemical Hazards

FDNY ambulance (Michael Gil)An online tool, developed by a University of Virginia faculty member, will help emergency medical staff and other first responders identify more quickly the group of chemicals causing patients to become ill. Mark Kirk, a professor of emergency medicine with the University of Virginia Health System, led development of the Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management Intelligent Syndromes Tool (CHEMM-IST) with members of the National Library of Medicine.

Kirks, who also works for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, says CHEMM-IST divides toxic chemicals into groups based on the symptoms they cause. First responders answer questions about the symptoms patients are experiencing that CHEMM-IST uses to determine which group of chemicals is most likely causing the illness.

The online program then recommends initial treatments and advises how rescue workers should protect themselves against exposure to the chemicals. At that point first responders can begin providing the most effective treatment sooner before the hazardous chemical is precisely identified, with better outcomes for patients.

CHEMM-IST is available online for viewing, but is still a prototype undergoing testing and validation, and thus not yet recommended for patient care. The resource, part of the National Library of Medicine’s Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management program, is also expected to develop a smartphone version to make it easier for emergency medical workers to access at the scene of a chemical exposure.

Read more: Ad Hoc Network Devised for Emergency Communications

Photo: Michael Gil/Flickr

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