emPOWER map: Health disaster preparedness through geographic data

Power outage during disasters like this one caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 can be crucial for people relying on electric medical equipment (Image: Kevin Deamandel)

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of USA has released a map based on geographic data to support during disasters and emergencies patients whose lives rely on electric medical devices.

The emPOWER map will assist Medicare (national social insurance programme) fee-for-service beneficiaries using electrical equipment, if due to an emergency their area is in danger of a power outage. To reach this purpose, the map records where the beneficiaries live and inputs the data, together with information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), into a Geographic Information System (GIS), a computer system that stores and displays geographic data.

“For people who rely on electricity-dependent medical equipment, prolonged power outages can mean life or death. This tool helps communities better anticipate, plan for, and respond to these unique needs of this population and improve resilience for the entire community before and after disasters,” stated Dr. Nicole Lurie, HHS’ assistant secretary for preparedness and response.

Now the main challenge remains in training caregivers in the use of such devices and how to efficiently respond during disasters.

Publishing Date: 

03/07/2015

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