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Sunday, May 16, 2010
EXCLUSIVE by Nadja Hainke
May 13th, 2010
TERRITORY victims in large-scale accidents or catastrophes will soon be barcoded at the scene before being sent to hospital.
Experts say it is only a matter of months before Territory emergency services adapt the revolutionary barcode card technology.
And the rest of Australia is expected to soon follow suit.
The technology is designed for major catastrophes which involve more than 10 victims.
These could range from traffic accidents to terrorist attacks and natural disasters, such as earthquakes.
Royal Darwin Hospital director of disaster preparedness Dr Ian Norton said it would put the Territory at the forefront of major emergency responses in Australia.
"It's the holy grail of disaster management," he said.
"It's information we've never had before."
The technology, designed by Darwin-based company Combined Communication Solutions, was trialled for the first time yesterday at an urban "search and rescue exercise" involving nearly 80 mock patients in Yarrawonga.
It allows the tracking of patients from the incident scene to the hospital in real time.
Patients are separated into critical, semi-critical, walking-wounded and dead categories before being equipped with a barcoded triage card.
A hand-held scanner then sends the information to a website via 3G technology.
Dr Norton said further details, including the patient's medical history, nationality and nature of injuries, could be added to the code.
"The medical teams can record all that information, even take a photo of the patient, tag it all together and send it back to the website and the guys in emergency know everything about the patients before they even arrive," he said.
"As soon as that scan happens, the hospital would know how many patients they would have to treat and how severe they are, and they would have emptied out the beds appropriately."
The technology has cost the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre about $65,000 so far.
Emergency services personnel from interstate kept a close eye on computer screens to assess the system during its first test run yesterday.